Connie Dieken: Positive Outcomes

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Connie Dieken: Influencing positive outcomes under difficult conditions

Speaking at the Align Technology online Growth Summit 2020, social scientist Connie Dieken explained her philosophy for influencing positive change under unprecedented circumstances.

Over a short period of time everything has changed – every expectation has been altered – we’re rethinking the way we do everything. However, there’s never been a better time to reveal and use your leadership influence for good. You now have a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence positive change faster, more completely and for the long term.

From the way a mask fits to air filtration to digital workflow we have reached a ‘moon-shot’ moment, the small step that means a giant leap of change; if you want to try something new this is the perfect time.
If you’re a practice owner who wants to digitise your business, this is the time to influence change. If you’re an associate who wants to introduce a new treatment option, this is the time to influence change.

If you’re a nurse who wants to take on more responsibility, this is the time to influence change. The first step is to identify a specific change that can shape the future of your practice for the greater good. Then, you must identify how to earn people’s commitment to bring it to life. The first step is to influence yourself; you have to act as if the house is on fire – because it is.

As social scientists we study the science behind influencing others, discover why some have the ability to unify others towards a common cause. But what is influence and how does it compare to other forms of social interaction? We get others to do what we want in four ways:

Dominate: This is a one-sided but long-term approach
Manipulate: One-sided again, but a short-term approach
Persuade: This is a mutual but short-term approach
Influence: Mutual, and long-term outcome

Only people who are truly connected with others can bring people on board and transform how they think. It means no longer playing the game but changing the game. But how? By leading. But wait, you say, I’m not the boss! You don’t need to be. If you’ve ever had an impact on another life or helped someone solve a problem, you’ve been a leader. You have had a positive influence.

The InfluenceCycle is a pattern of three critical leadership skills: Connect, Convey, Convince. Our research identified this recurring pattern as the skillsets that the world’s most influential leaders master in order to change the hearts and minds of others.

Connect: First create a culture of openness and common ground. Identify your subject’s values, find out what is most important to them. Is it profit? Is it quality? Is it providing the best possible experience? If you can’t match their values you can’t overcome their resistance to change, whether we’re talking about dental team members or patients it’s all the same. This is openness.

How do we do this? By listening. Wait, you say, I listen all the time. But do you? Listening doesn’t just mean being in the same room when someone else is talking, it means wanting to hear! It means actively seeking people’s thoughts, and it means not going a long time without connecting. A lack of interaction can be perceived as a lack of openness.

It is important to share our common humanity. Don’t offer scripted responses but be honest – while also remembering that wearing PPE creates a distance that needs to be overcome.

Convey: Clarity is essential when trying to get a new idea across. Simplify to amplify, if you confuse you lose. Try talking in triplets, three is the most influential number. In the Olympics we have three medals to aim for, gold silver and bronze, three is good. If you have 20 initiatives you want to achieve, try to streamline them down to three.

Share important information as a story; too much pure information can be confusing, but sharing something as a success story lodges in the memory. A simple anecdote will stay in the mind long after the power point presentation has faded into the past.

Convince: Belief unifies the sceptical and earns their commitment; whether they are the practice principal, a nurse, or an associate dentist, they need to be convinced that your new initiative is for the best. And don’t try too hard to convince them, that smacks of manipulation.

Put your case forward as simply as possible and remember to factor in whatever they consider important, “if we do this it will increase profits”, “if we do that our overall quality will improve”. If your idea has value, your subject will convince themselves, they might even think it was their idea.

And finally, be mindful of the rumour mill. Gossip will undermine your plans if people are not convinced your new strategy has worth; they will only talk about you behind your back if they feel you have failed them.

I’m a social scientist, so I want to help you transform and become even better than you were before the pandemic. I believe the worst possible outcome of this experience would be to emerge unchanged.


Connie Dieken is a social scientist whose research focuses on leadership influence. The founder and chairman of The Dieken Group, Connie developed and launched Influence360º, a statistically validated research tool that measures influence patterns and has helped more than 100,000 leaders around the globe.

Using customised research, she advises executives for some of the world’s leading brands regarding ways to influence positive outcomes under challenging conditions, helping them to unify, elevate, and shape the future of their most critical initiatives.

Images are copyrighted by the Dieken Group.

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