Winning With People

Leadership is about the influence you have over other people. After all, you can’t lead if nobody is following. A lot of law firm founders are leaders by luck; their firms were successful, they hired people, and suddenly they found themselves in charge of a team of five, or 11, or 30. Those attorneys may have developed strategies that worked for them—but sometimes they
haven’t, and sometimes a strategy that works for one person stops working for others.

In this message, we want to break down the specific methods for influencing another person. By putting some thought into a process that may be intuitive to you, you can improve your leadership strategies and perhaps learn some new ones.

Three Tactics for Winning People Over

Influence is about getting people to do what you want them to do. Your employees may already do this because you sign their paychecks, but as you probably know, the best leaders inspire loyalty for reasons that have nothing to do with money. And your employees aren’t the only ones you need to influence; you have potential clients, judges, jurors, opposing counsel, and
others in your life who don’t owe you any deference.

When trying to win people over, most attorneys reach for an appeal to logic—an argument made from the head. A logical appeal says “given the situation and the choices available, this is the most rational choice.” A logical appeal works very well in law school, but you may find it’s less effective with someone whose feelings were just hurt.

If a logical appeal comes from the head, an emotional appeal comes from the heart. It tells the person you’re talking to that the action you’re advocating is desirable for emotional reasons—to support a teammate who needs it, say, or because it makes them the kind of person they want to be.

A social appeal arguably encompasses both logical and emotional appeals, but also takes advantage of the fact that humans are (to different degrees) social creatures. A social appeal says “this is good for the team” or “this will be more effective done together than apart.”

Which of these arguments you reach for in a given situation depends on who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to achieve. A logical appeal won’t work well on a toddler, and an emotional appeal may not make sense in a discussion about trial strategy. That said, you should have all of these in your arsenal as you’re growing your business and your firm. If one kind of argument isn’t working, you’ll be able to switch tactics.


To Your Continued Success,


Luis Scott