Categories
Position Paper

The Dozen Dogmas

The Fundamentals for Projecting Leadership

  1. When dealing with words, start with the metrics.
  2. Learn to speak in less than one minute and begin with your conclusion.
  3. Always stay within the time.
  4. Never talk about the time.
  5. Do not talk about your outline.
  6. Use fewer words to convey more meaning.
  7. Avoid connecting words and phrases.
  8. Speak slowly; pause and pause again: the audience will fill in the blanks.
  9. Never speak when others are speaking.
  10. Electronics require the same extreme caution as children and animals on stage.
  11. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse: everything is beautiful at the ballet.
  12. Analysis, not opinion; facts and figures to support the analysis.

Categories
Position Paper

Corporate Citizenship

POSITION PAPER

Corporate Citizenship

GSL™ requires firms to build their brand equity as standard-setters

by Nicholas Dungan

  • Major business firms need to prepare now for a sea-change in the way they fit in global society.
  • A broad-based, holistic concept of corporate citizenship, already developing considerable momentum, will soon disrupt and displace the mere exercise of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
  • Global firms—multinational enterprises, financial institutions, professional services firms—will henceforth be compelled to prove, convincingly and continuously, their commitment and their conduct as exemplary global citizens.
  • Global firms cannot eschew their responsibility to play their part as non-state actors in the management of world affairs. States are no longer the only or even the principal decision- makers on global societal issues.
  • The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda has become the world’s collective global roadmap, a rallying point and plan of action for global actors including the actual and potential customers, investors and employees of global firms. All these increasingly look hard at corporate citizenship when assessing a firm.
  • As an essential component of their corporate citizenship, global firms in the top tier of their industries and professions will therefore need to exercise a new, consistent and dynamic form of thought leadership: Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™).
  • In exercising Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™), global firms will be expected to demonstrate the quality of their strategic thinking, not only the quality of their business performance. Global audiences will evaluate the quality of that strategic thinking as an indicator of the firm’s corporate citizenship. Financial markets will incorporate the quality of that strategic thinking into their valuation models.
  • Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™) requires a firm to build its brand equity as a top-tier global standard-setter. Firms will need to produce consistent content as reliable and authoritative as any think-tank, consultancy or university. That content needs to be delivered in a variety of forms, on a variety of platforms, to a variety of audiences. The firm’s representatives must be sought out and respected as experts, to participate in shaping the global conversation, not just to convey corporate messages.
  •  Major firms which fail to exercise Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™) will run the risk of losing trust, reputation and value. Those who do it well will gain trust, reputation and value.
  • CogitoPraxis gives equal importance to high-quality thinking and effective practical action. The ultimate goal of CogitoPraxis is to advise and assist each client firm to achieve its own best form of Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™).

Corporate citizenship has a history

The origins of corporate citizenship can be traced to the publication in 1953 of Howard R. Bowen’s book, The Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. In parlance that now appears dated, but which imparts ideas well ahead of their time, he wrote: ‘The decisions and actions of the businessman have a direct bearing on the quality of our lives and personalities. His decisions affect not only himself, his stockholders, his immediate workers, or his customers—they affect the lives and fortunes of us all.’(1)

The 1973 ‘Davos Manifesto’ issued by the organization that was to become the World Economic Forum opens with these words: ‘The purpose of professional management is to serve clients, shareholders, workers and employees, as well as societies, and to harmonize the different interests of the stakeholders.’(2)

In 1994, N. Craig Smith wrote in the Harvard Business Review: ‘Like citizens in the classical sense, corporate citizens cultivate a broad view of their own self-interest while instinctively searching for ways to align self-interest with the larger good.’(3)

In 2008, Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, wrote in Foreign Affairs: ‘[A] new imperative for business, best described as “global corporate citizenship,” must be recognized. It expresses the conviction that companies not only must be engaged with their stakeholders but are themselves stakeholders alongside governments and civil society.’(4)

Corporate citizenship has gathered momentum

In May 2019, the French Loi Pacte changed the definition of corporate purpose in the French Civil Code to include environmental and societal issues and to permit companies to include their mission (raison d’être) in their bye-laws. (5)

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable in Washington DC released a new ‘Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’ signed by more than 180 CEOs who commited to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.(6)

In November 2019, the theme of the annual Entretiens de Royaumont in France was ‘Can Capitalism be Responsible?’7 and in December 2019 the topic of the 6th Sommet de l’économie in Paris was ‘Resetting Capitalism’(8).

Also in November 2019, the British Academy released a lengthy and detailed study, ‘Principles for Purposeful Business’9 which was launched at the Guildhall in London with a speech by Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, who said: ‘Reforming the corporation is not about tacking on a laundry list of nice-to-have initiatives. The prescription is a fundamental shift in how companies think about their objectives.’(10)

At the end of November 2019, Rolf Nonnenmacher, Chairman of the Regierungskommission Deutscher Corporate Governance Kodex (German Corporate Governance Code Commission), opened the Commission’s annual conference saying, ‘It is quite clear that enterprises that do not live up to their social responsibility will find it increasingly difficult to operate successfully in the market.’(11)

In December 2019, Klaus Schwab published ‘Why we need the “Davos Manifesto” for a better kind of capitalism ’(12) in which he called once again for stakeholder capitalism as opposed to state capitalism or narrow shareholder capitalism.

In January 2020, the theme of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos is ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. (13)

Global pressure is building

Citizens across the world are intent that institutions of all kinds should demonstrate responsible societal behaviour. This determination will only be amplified as global society faces the combined challenges of:

  • responding to and managing the impacts of climate change, which entail far more than improvingbusinesses’ environmental performance or adopting sustainable development processes andtechniques;
  • the need to regulate artificial intelligence and ensure that technology works for humans, not thereverse; and
  • the pressure to address inequalities, an issue where business firms have a critical role to play bypromoting better opportunities, upskilling their human capital and providing support for lifelong learning.

In its feature entitled ‘The Defining Ideas of 2019’, Time magazine included an article ‘Values Added: In the era of “woke capitalism,” apolitical is not an option’, which states: ‘For decades, most companies went to great lengths to avoid opining on social issues. No longer. … Nine in 10 members of Generation Z, who account for as much as $150 billion in spending power globally, believe that companies have a responsibility to social and environmental issues, according to McKinsey. … [C]ompanies are learning that it may be riskier to pretend it’s all business as usual.’(14)

HM Queen Elizabeth II, in her 2019 Christmas broadcast, acknowledged this phenomenon: ‘The challenges many people face today may be different to those once faced by my generation, but I have been struck by how new generations have brought a similar sense of purpose to issues such as protecting our environment and our climate.’ (15)

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (16) is today seen, and acted on, as the world’s collective global roadmap. In its integrated, relatively simple narrative, it has become a rallying point and a plan of action for an exceptionally diverse set of actors, many of whom are either actually or potentially the clients, investors or employees of global firms. All these actors are increasingly taking a hard look at corporate citizenship when assessing a firm.

Global firms must recognize their role as non-state actors in international affairs and take a much more active place at the world’s decision-making tables. Current governance structures are changing fast. States are no longer the sole, or often even the primary, decision-makers on societal issues. Global firms will be compelled to be responsible stakeholders in the management of the affairs of the world.

The move to certification as a B Corporation is on the rise. B Corporations are ‘businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose’. B Corporation certification is ‘a rigorous process that includes comprehensive third-party assessment of social and environmental performance on a range of metrics’ and ‘[o]nly a fraction of applicant companies receive B Corp status on their first try’. (17)

Benefit corporations, distinct from B Corps, ‘lock in positive social, environmental and community impact (in addition to profit) in their constitutional and governance documents’ and those commitments ‘cannot be changed by a new owner or a CEO deciding to change course.’ (18)

It is not fanciful to imagine that, soon, all major global business firms will be held to the same standards as B Corporations and, indeed, may increasingly be judged by the criteria of benefit corporations.

Firms are unprepared

Despite heightened awareness, global firms—industrial, financial, services—have yet to come fully to terms with the imperative for broad-based, holistic corporate citizenship.

Corporate citizenship is stakeholder capitalism focused at the level of the individual enterprise. Most firms have not examined, much less integrated, the many practical effects of corporate citizenship. Implementing a fully-fledged form of corporate citizenship carries a multitude of implications for the management and governance of global firms.

Until now, senior managements have often adopted sustainable development and corporate social responsibility more from a spirit of compliance or fashion than from a conviction that corporate citizenship is good business, and is here to stay. Boards of directors have largely accepted the chief executive’s assurances that the firm they govern is doing what it should in pursuit of worthy environmental and societal goals.

Industrial companies have generally attempted to improve existing processes and practices rather than fundamentally altering their business models—for example by truly practising the principles of the circular economy rather than merely attempting to reduce waste. As part of the re-examination of their business models, industrial companies will have to re-think their relationships with suppliers and customers, assess the integrity of their supply chains and distribution methods, adapt their offerings from disposable products to ‘as a service’ in the sharing economy and reposition their governance towards a stakeholder, ‘purpose before profit’19 model.

Financial institutions and professional services firms will face the need to provide humanist-driven offers and outcomes rather than relying on technical forms of services that will be supplanted by digitalization.

The reality is that all leading global business firms need to reconsider their business models. And they need to prove to society their ability to think globally and strategically, in order to remain leaders.

Corporate citizenship requires Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™)

Global firms will henceforth be expected to demonstrate the quality of their strategic thinking, not just the quality of their business performance. This is a paramount implication of corporate citizenship.

Global audiences will evaluate that strategic thinking as a critical indicator of the firm’s corporate citizenship.

Financial markets will incorporate the quality of that strategic thinking in their valuation models.

The new kind of thinking that will be demanded of major firms as part of their corporate citizenship requires them to exercise Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™).

  • GSL™ is global: the breadth and depth of thinking must be all-encompassing, address multi- stakeholder relationships from a pluri-disciplinary platform and extend beyond comfortable close- to-home geographies.
  • GSL™ is strategic: the thinking within GSL™ must focus on major long-term issues facing the firm, its industry or profession and all societal stakeholders.
  • GSL™ produces leadership: the firm achieves—and then must maintain—its status as a multi- stakeholder standard-setter for the best quality thinking about the fundamental strategic issues of its business, industry or professional sector within the widest definition of global society.

How a firm distinguishes itself through GSL

GSL™ places the firm, in its areas of expertise, at the same level, and achieves the same quality of output, as the world’s best think tanks, professional consultancies and research universities.GSL™ deliverables make the firm the standard-setter in its industry or profession and reinforce the firm’s brand equity.To achieve GSL™, the firm will need to produce consistent GSL™ content that manifests its collective corporate intelligence. That content must be delivered in a variety of forms, on a variety of platforms, to a variety of audiences. The firm’s representatives must be sought out as experts, to participate in shaping the global conversation, not just to convey corporate messages.GSL™ requires cross-sector, multi-stakeholder leadership and impact from the firm. The firm’s critical strategic intelligence on priority issues must be a model both within and beyond its industry. Building the firm’s GSL™ requires inclusive change management within and around the firm, across all its ecosystems—and, especially, buy-in and ownership at all levels throughout the entirety of the firm itself.

Benefits of GSL

Senior managements of global firms should view GSL™ not as a luxury or an optional add-on but as an essential survival kit for the future health, welfare and even existence of their firm.

The discipline, rigour and professional process of achieving GSL™ will produce a positive impact on the firm’s own strategic planning for itself.

GSL™ can make an important difference to an organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent.

GSL™ provides a competitive advantage to a firm in bidding for client contracts—indeed, may serve as a tie-breaker in winning customers.

GSL™ should produce a positive impact on the firm’s share price. Faced with two otherwise identical companies, one demonstrating GSL™ and the other not, financial analysts and financial markets will almost certainly assign a privileged valuation multiple to the think-and-do firm over the do-only firm.

GSLTM should thus improve the quality of the firm’s thinking, its positioning vis-à-vis all its stakeholders and its reputation. In so doing, GSL™ allows the firm to gain trust and value.

CogitoPraxis drives GSL

The CogitoPraxis GSL™ model gives equal importance to high-quality thinking and effective practical action.

CogitoPraxis cultivates a spirit of coordinated interaction with appropriate client firm leaders.

CogitoPraxis’s networks of partners and experts provide the client firm access to worldwide GSL™ intelligence.

CogitoPraxis designs, executes and re-evaluates its GSL™ assignment jointly with the client firm, consistently seeking collaborative solutions and positive outcomes.

The ultimate goal of CogitoPraxis is to advise and assist each client firm to achieve its own best form of GSL™.

Achieving GSL™ typically involves five stages: assessment, objectives, strategy, implementation, impact.

1 Assessment

In the assessment phase, CogitoPraxis and the client firm’s GSL™ team review the client firm’s thought leadership today, compare it to industry peers and global best practice, and map its ecosystems.

  • Assemble a multi-disciplinary team from within the client firm with clear top-level commitment.
  • Review all apppropriate and available sources of existing GSL™ expertise within the client firm.
  • Professionally score the client firm vis-à-vis the full landscape of stakeholders in its ecosystem.
  • Examine the client firm’s outreach today, field test it against competitors, benchmark versus best practices.
  • Deliverable: appraisal and analysis together with a set of concrete, detailed, practicalrecommendations.

2 Objectives

In order to achieve clear, consistent, concrete objectives, CogitoPraxis and the client firm’s GSL™ team match the client firm’s GSL™ ambitions to its purpose, its audiences, ecosystems and their variants.

  • Achieve clarity and consistency on the alignment of the client firm’s GSL™ and its corporate purpose.
  • Enumerate and prioritize with the client firm team the target audiences / networks for its GSL™.
  • Construct transformation maps of the cross-cutting thematics, disciplines, types of expertise toproject.
  • Examine sub-set strands of GSL™ concerning distinct business lines, geographies, GSL™ variations.
  • Deliverable: clear road map with the client firm’s leadership of desired outcomes and their timing.

3 Strategy

Building on a realistic assessment and realistic objectives, CogitoPraxis and the client firm GSL™ team construct a plan of action, each step coordinated with all the others, and a timeline for implementation.

  • Compose a playbook to apply to all client firm GSL™ experts, spokespersons, practitioners.
  • Determine desired sequencing / scheduling with the client firm’s GSL™ team of GSL™ actionitems.
  • Plan with the client firm’s GSL™ team all GSL™ priority actions, eg content, format, outreach.
  • Design GSL™ implementation scenarios by all client firm representatives with CRM-type follow-up.
  • Deliverable: written / oral CogitoPraxis GSL™ presentations to client firm management andgovernance.

4 Implementation

CogitoPraxis stays with the client firm GSL™ team to manage initiatives and processes as the strategy is put into practice. This includes assistance with all forms of outreach and all networks of influence.

  • Designate an in-house client firm expertise task force to centralize and manage the client firm’s GSL™.
  • Execute a phased multi-stakeholder GSL™ implementation plan together with client firm representatives.
  • Capitalize on existing relationships to elaborate a series of multi-stakeholder networks of influence.
  • Produce multi-platform GSL™ content, output, outreach; monitor roll-out based on CRM methodology.
  • Deliverable: multi-year strategic plan translated into focused action steps that achieve GSL™.

5 Impact

CogitoPraxis and the client firm GSL™ team agree in advance on how to gauge the impact of the client firm’s GSL™ once it is implemented; rigorously measure success against those criteria; identify improvements.

  • Establish clear, timed GSL™ results and measurement criteria across the range of GSL™ initiatives.
  • Set specific guidelines to determine desired quantitative and qualitative impact of GSL™ goals.
  • Employ professional external evaluation methods (eg surveys) for objective impact assessment.
  • Utilize the impact evaluation exercise to critique assessment, objectives, strategy,implementation.
  • Deliverable: analysis of performance, recommendations on course corrections, strategy adjustments.

CogitoPraxis differs from other consultancies

CogitoPraxis assists leaders in optimizing their firm’s strategic positioning as a corporate citizen.

We are not a traditional management consulting firm that advises on business processes.


We are not a conventional communications firm that advises on corporate messages.


We are focused on high-quality strategic thinking translated into effective practical action.

Our goals are:

  • to support clients in achieving the highest-quality thinking in their areas of speciality andexpertise;
  • to collaborate in conveying that thinking to audiences across the client firm’s ecosystems; and
  • to create in the client firm the lasting stewardship to sustain, renew and perpetuate the client firm’s GSL™.
Categories
Position Paper

Poised on the Perilous Point

POSITION PAPER

Poised on the Perilous Point

The strategic is as urgent as the urgent

by Nicholas Dungan

Here, then, at home, by no more storms distrest, Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled;
Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled, Here the sun stands and knows not east nor west, Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best, From the wide zone through dizzying circles hurled, To that still centre where the spinning world

Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.

Lay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright,
Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed
May sleep, as tension at the verberant core
Of music sleeps; for, if thou spare to smite, Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead, And, dying so, sleep our sweet sleep no more.

In Gaudy Night, the exquisite novel by Dorothy L. Sayers published in 1935, Harriet Vane, a mystery writer and the book’s protagonist, returns to Oxford, where she writes the first eight-line stanza of this sonnet, a description of the peacefulness of her alma mater but equally a billet doux for Lord Peter Wimsey, Sayers’s aristocratic detective hero. Discovering the opening stanza, Wimsey pens the subsequent sestet and so completes the sonnet, but in contrapuntal mode, rejecting the ‘still centre’ in favour of an upright, activist position: ‘poised on the perilous point’.

There is a widespread conviction in the world today that we are poised on the perilous point of a human revolution.

This is manifested in an eerie feeling throughout the globe that all of humanity is somehow at a tipping point, an inflection point, poised on the perilous point between success and failure—faced with an opportunity, by adopting radically different behaviours towards each other and towards our habitat, to thrive as a united species, lest, through ignorance or division, ‘Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead’.

This human revolution is many phenomena at once: spiritual and humanistic but also political and economic.

The spiritual revolution comprises both stanzas of the sonnet: the desire for inner peace combined with a robust call to action. This duality of serenity and determination finds expression also in a recent video (in which the cellist is Isabelle Dungan of CogitoPraxis). We need both: contemplation and action, both cogito and πρᾶξις.

The humanistic revolution arises from the shared human experiences, one on top of the other, of the Covid19 pandemic and the worldwide movement for racial justice. These experiences, far from separate or distinct, are intimately connected. Analysts, thinkers and leaders from around the world agree that the future must be more humanistic.

The political revolution is made plain in the desire on the part of world leaders to unite to support positive change. This resolve was expressed in the exceptional webinar organized by the World Economic Forum arguing for a ‘Great Reset’ of the world and announcing that this will be the theme of the Davos meeting in January 2021. (In an upcoming position paper, CogitoPraxis will examine the range of stakeholders who need to be drawn into such a reset, and how to attract them.) To be sure, not all the world’s political leaders, or business or other leaders, subscribe to the tenets of stakeholder capitalism. Some holdouts look to be trapped in old ways of thinking that privilege hostile rivalry, raw competition and Darwinian destruction over cooperation, collaboration and consensus. But the winds of change are blowing against them.

The economic revolution will test the mettle of business and financial leaders everywhere. In his opening remarks of the Great Reset webinar, the Prince of Wales stressed that there has never been a time when the involvement of, and commitment from, the private sector has been more crucial. We have seen business and financial leaders such as Jamie Dimon of J P Morgan speak out against racism. In France, for example, Pierre-André de Chalendar, CEO of Saint-Gobain, and Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, chairman of Engie, support the conviction, as do chief executives from around the world, that the Covid19 crisis can serve as a model for facing climate change and enhancing sustainability.

The challenge for everyone—from the loftiest decision-makers to every single ordinary citizen in her or his daily life—will consist of one choice: whether to prioritise the long term over the short term, the fundamental over the circumstantial, the strategic over the urgent. For, as the opportunity and the hope of this human revolution make plain, the strategic is at least as urgent as the urgent.

Categories
Position Paper

Main Methods of Influence

POSITION PAPER

Main Methods of Influence

‘By indirections find directions out’

by Nicholas Dungan

The art of influence ought to be authentic (1). This science of soft skills can be exercised in several different forms (2). And the deployment of influence can make use of a number of identifiable methods.

Give it to them straight: targeting the consumer

Advertising is the most obvious method of attempting to exercise influence. Traditionally, whether in print, on radio or on television, advertising, with more or less directness, sent a message to the consumer: buy this product. In our own day, on the internet, advertising has become more subtle and, some would argue, more sinister, such as in the ability to manipulate democratic processes. On Facebook or Twitter, on Instagram, and even to some degree, in a more corporate context, on LinkedIn, advertising is blended into the other, reputedly credible content we consume—and is far more pervasive and sophisticated than old-fashioned product placement in the cinema, such as James Bond’s Omega wristwatch.

In addition, advertising has become person-to-person, not just business-to-consumer. Previously, methods of advertising passed through ‘creative’ agencies, as depicted in Mad Men. Today, you can advertise yourself or your product or your service all by yourself, on social media. But the fact remains that you are often targeting your audience directly: hear my message, open my post, like my Tweet.

The success or failure of this direct method of influence is fairly binary: it works or it doesn’t.

Professionalising the process: public relations

Communications firms, such as Brunswick, Edelman, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and a host of other big and small companies, specialise in crafting and conveying messages on behalf of their clients. In the earlier, simpler form of public relations, the PR agency shaped the client’s message and sought to sell it to the mainstream media. Nowadays, the range of services of the PR firms has broadened, the type of outlets that they aim for has become vastly more varied and the multiplicity of audiences which they target has increased.

PR is still about selling a message, but with greater professional expertise and, when done well, with less uncertainty, with at least some ability to measure the actual impact of the effort.

Cultivating the decision-makers: lobbying and advocacy

Advocacy takes advertising and PR to a different dimension. If advertising seems rather scattered and PR has a fairly elusive result, advocacy—particularly in the form of corporate lobbying—is more focused in its message and its targeting, and more precise in determining its outcome.

Advocacy generally and lobbying specifically are aimed at government decision-makers—whether legislators, regulators or other administrative officials—in whose decisions the lobbyists and their clients have a direct stake. Many lobbyists are lawyers with long experience in cultivating the decision-makers and even drafting the legislation or regulations their clients desire. Most of these clients are multinational enterprises whether in pharmaceuticals or other industries, or in banking, insurance or other financial services. The clients know what they want, the lobbyists know who to target and it is easy to measure success: did the client get the results it was after from that target.

Other forms of advocacy are harder to gauge, such as issue-based environmental advocacy, or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) advocating for social justice or human rights. But the target audiences generally still consist of persons in authority.

Don’t listen to me, listen to them

Endorsement is an especially effective form of influence. If I boast of my abilities, or promote my organisation’s products, or advocate for my favourite causes, you will believe me only so far. If, on the other hand, I can produce satisfied customers, admiring colleagues or convincing evidence provided by a (supposedly) independent third party, particularly by recognised experts, that endorsement will increase my influence precisely because I am not attempting to exercise that influence myself. This is a strategy of indirect approach.

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.’ –Benjamin Franklin

By far the most lasting method of influence is education. We need to recognise that education is not telling, it is teaching. The Socratic method, whereby the teacher inspires the student to learn on her or his own,is far more effective than an hour-long monologue lecture. We all remember our best professors; and we remember not just what they taught us, but that it was they who taught us.

Whether using advertising, or public relations, or advocacy, or endorsement, the most enduring and appealing method of influence is to educate our target audience, to impart new ways of thinking and communicate new knowledge and wisdom to ‘the other’ whom we are seeking to influence. That ‘other’ will normally react with appreciation and admiration.

  1. See CogitoPraxis position paper, ‘The Art of Authentic Influence’.
  2. See CogitoPraxis position paper, ‘Five Forms of Influence’.
Categories
Position Paper

Benefits of CogitoPraxis Advice

These benefits apply to organisations and to individuals

Awareness

  • enhanced self-awareness
  • increased awareness of ‘the other’ 
  • heightened situational awareness

Understanding

  • nature and sources of influence
  • forms of influence
  • methods of influence

Skills

  • writing
  • speaking
  • media

Techniques

  • how to be persuasive
  • how to be impressive
  • how to be authoritative

Adaptability

  • influence and gender
  • influence and example 
  • influence and authority

Confidence

  • preparedness 
  • flexibility
  • serenity

Goals

  • audiences
  • purposes
  • effectiveness

Empowerment

  • choices
  • consequences
  • you the influencer
Categories
Position Paper

Five Forms of Influence

POSITION PAPER

Five forms of Influence

To be and not to be—and to do and not to do

by Nicholas Dungan

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was among the first to demonstrate that the art of persuasion is something that can be taught, and learned. ‘Aristotle sought to grasp the very roots of persuasion itself, which required him to ponder the nature of character and emotion…. Thus persuasiveness becomes for the first time a fully systematic and even scientific exercise; it can indeed be taught, but only by a deep grasp of some of the central features of human nature.’1

This art of persuasion is the science of soft skills, the art of influence. We are of course talking of authentic influence, which is both legitimate on the part of the person exercising influence and voluntary on the part of the person being influenced (see the CogitoPraxis position paper ‘The Art of Authentic Influence’).

Within this science of soft skills, five forms of influence stand out: diplomacy, seduction, language, silence and drama.

Diplomacy

Professional diplomacy—the practice of relations between states—includes representation, negotiation and administration. In everyday parlance, diplomacy refers principally to the representational aspect, reaching out to ‘the other’. In one classic text, aptly entitled Diplomacy, by Harold Nicolson, the author writes: ‘These, then, are the qualities of my ideal diplomatist. Truth, accuracy, calm, patience, good temper, modesty and loyalty. … But, the reader may object, you have forgotten intelligence, knowledge, discernment, prudence, hospitality, charm, industry, courage and even tact. I have not forgotten them. I have taken them for granted.’2 If we wish to exercise influence by reaching out to the other, we could do worse than to listen to Nicolson.

Seduction

Virtually the opposite of reaching out to the other, seduction implies attracting the other to us. We work to make ourselves as appealing as possible, then do as little as possible to project that appeal. Seduction incorporates a strong component of mystery and is an especially powerful form of influence because we seek to occupy the imagination of the other. But seduction can backfire if no other comes to us. We will be disappointed, and perhaps look extremely foolish, if nothing happens. Seduction can be potent, and dangerous.

Language

Words, spoken and written, are the most obvious form of influence. This is why Aristotle’s study on the art of persuasion is called Rhetoric. We use words every day, all the time. But words are not neutral. Words have consequences. The key to using words is awareness: self-awareness, awareness of the other, situational awareness. Everything we say, and especially how we say it, reflects on us. As George Bernard Shaw wrote in his introduction to Pygmalion: ‘It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him.’3 We will all be judged by the clarity with which we express ourselves. The respect we show for language is the respect we show for others and they will be keenly sensitive to that.

Silence

Just as seduction is a seemingly passive form of influence compared to diplomacy, so silence is a seemingly passive form of influence compared to language. Silence, like seduction, incorporates a strong component of mystery and seeks to occupy the imagination of the other. Charles de Gaulle, in his masterpiece on leadership, Le Fil de l’épée, states: ‘Nothing reinforces authority better than silence’.4 Silence is a strong form of influence because the other doesn’t know what we are thinking; but, like seduction, it is dangerous, because we also do not know what the other is thinking.

Drama

Influence through drama, in the broadest sense, is influence through spectacle, theatricality, putting on a show. As William Shakespeare wrote: ‘All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances, / And one man in his time plays many parts.’5 The use of drama in exercising influence need not be confined to royal weddings and stirring parades. We must pay attention to appearances in our everyday lives, even to our Zoom backdrop, for the impression we create—how we play the part of ourselves—will determine how we are perceived, and how effective our influence will be.

  1. H. C. Lawson-Tancred. Introduction to Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric. London: Penguin Books.1991. p. 8 
  2. Harold Nicolson. Diplomacy. London: Oxford University Press. 1939, p. 126.
  3. George Bernard Shaw. Introduction to Pygmalion. London. 1912.
  4. Charles de Gaulle. Le Fil de l’épée. Paris: Éditions Berger-Levrault. 1944. Quotation from new edition 2010. Éditions Perrin. p.77.5 
  5. William Shakespeare. As You Like It. Act II, scene vii.

Categories
Position Paper

The Art of Authentic Influence

POSITION PAPER

The Art of Authentic Influence?

Thinking it through before acting on it

by Nicholas Dungan

Before we attempt to exercise influence, we ought to analyse what we mean by influence and what the meaning of that influence implies.

Making it authentic

First and foremost, if we are decent people seeking to use our influence towards benificent ends, the influence we wish to exercise must be authentic: genuine, heartfelt, inspired by good will and intended to create good will. Such authentic influence must be both legitimate on the part of the person exercising influence and voluntary on the part of the person being influenced.

To be legitimate, the influence we wish to exercise must be ethical in its means and in its ends. This influence does not allow for anything dubious, unseemly or illegal, nor even slightly suspect, a bit dodgy, disingenuous: nothing underhanded, no cutting corners, not two-faced.

Authentic influence must also be voluntary on the part of the person being influenced. The art of persuasion is just that: the ability to inspire others to act in the way that we desire them to act, but based on the consent, the acquiescence, even the enthusiasm of those others. For influence to be voluntary, there is one aspect that must be missing: fear. Influence exercised by creating anxiety, or making threats, or using intimidation, is negative influence. This putrid sort of influence will be resented by others and will last only until they can find a way to avoid it or reject it or overcome it.

The triangulation of trust

Once we have determined that the influence we wish to cultivate must be authentic, legitimate and voluntary, then we can examine the components which make up that authentic influence. These components are the truth, the sense of reality and awareness of ‘the other’. Together they constitute a triangle that inspires trust on the part of those whom we wish to influence.

The value of the truth should be obvious, but in our day and age seems to be under particular threat. Yet the supposition that we live in a ‘post-truth’ era of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ actually serves to make the truth more valuable, not less. All philosophies and all religions have always emphasised the centrality of the truth. The Buddha said: ‘Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.’ Respecting the truth requires courage and character. And if we deviate from the truth, our influence will not last long, nor be effective, nor be benificent, because others will not trust us.

If the opposite of the truth is falsehood, the opposite of the sense of reality is denial, or delusion. The eminent philosopher Bertrand Russell, when asked for his advice to future generations, gave this guidance on how to confront situations: ask yourself first ‘What are the facts?’. If we attempt to influence others based on illusion, or an idealised version of reality, or an artificial intellectual construct, then, even if we are deemed ethical and truthful by those others, we will still be written off as dreamers disconnected from the real world, and we will fail to exercise our influence.

The third side of the triangle of trust, along with the truth and the sense of reality, is awareness of ‘the other’. We can try to influence all we want, but without the other, there is nobody there to receive our influence. Even more than this, the way we design and project and gauge our influence should be largely a function of who the other is, how we judge her or his receptivity, what we think her or his sensitivities are that will allow our influence to be appreciated, and received voluntarily.

Ancient wisdom, modern intelligence

We should not be surprised to learn that the art of authentic influence which we think we have discovered for ourselves was actually articulated long ago. Aristotle, in Rhetoric, identified three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos.

  • Ethos applies to the speaker and the speaker’s ethics and reputation. Ethos requires the truth.
  • Logos means the message, the substance of the influence. Logos requires the sense of reality.
  • Pathos refers to the emotions through which our audience receives our influence. Pathos requires awareness of the other.

Ethos

the truth

influence / leader

Logos

the sense of reality

message / substance

Pathos

the other

emotions / soft skills

Categories
Position Paper

What is ILE™?

POSITION PAPER

What is ILE?

Professionals need to develop influence, leadership, empowerment

by Nicholas Dungan

Professionals do not succeed just by doing their jobs. They succeed by how they do their jobs.

Career success exemplifies the 80-20 rule. Fully 80% of the ability to succeed in one’s working life depends on a mere 20% of what one does. You have to do the 80% just to get your job done, but that constitutes only 20% of the success of your career. The other 80% of success depends on the remaining 20% of time and effort, and that key 20% concerns largely the science of soft skills.

CogitoPraxis has developed ILE (Influence-Leadership-Empowerment) to meet this need.

Purpose and Impact of ILE™

ILE is designed to empower professionals and executives, from mid-career to CEO level, to enhance their leadership and influence skills, for their own benefit in managing their work and their careers, and for the benefit of the organisations they serve.

ILE seeks to reinforce these professionals’ expertise and sensibilities in the science of soft skills and, in so doing, magnify the professionals’ effectiveness within their organisations and beyond.

In large organisations, when select groups of professionals chosen for ILE programmes are drawn from different disciplines, specialisations and geographies, ILE serves to create increased collegiality among the professionals and intensify their shared culture by offering them the opportunity to interact with each other and to work together on practical, stimulating, inspirational issues beyond their daily responsibilities.

ILE helps to position these professionals as influencers both within their organisations and in their broader business communities and ecosystems.

Process of an ILE Programme

ILE can be designed for an individual CEO or other executive, or for groups of professionals. Especially when provided as seminars for select groups—including by Zoom or other video- conferencing services—ILE embraces three movements.

First Movement: Understanding influence and leadership

Without this context, the practical techniques in the Second Movement are devoid of underpinning.


Second Movement: Exercising influence and leadership

This Movement has two parts: skills and techniques for me to hone in order to exercise influence and leadership; then, how I exercise influence and leadership in organisations and society.

Third Movement: You the influencer and leader

What are my choices and obligations as an influencer and leader? What does this mean for me?

First Movement: Understanding influence and leadership

  • What do we mean by ‘influence’? 
  • The art of authentic influence
  • What’s the purpose of influence? 
  • Influence and awareness
  • Influence and leadership are not the same
  • The art of authentic leadership
  • The dilemma of ‘it depends’
  • Five forms of influence
  • Main methods of influence
  • Benefits of a strategy of influence


Second Movement: Exercising influence and leadership (part one)

Making influence and leadership work for me: skills and techniques


  • How to shine with no time to prepare
  • How to read a room
  • How to own a room
  • How to deal with the media
  • The challenge of social media
  • How to write a speech
  • How to deliver a speech
  • How to write an article in 1/2 hour
  • Talking and listening
  • Zooming

Second Movement: Exercising influence and leadership (part two)

How to apply influence in your work


  • What are my business ecosystems?
  • Working within organisations and groups
  • Authority vs example
  • Managing up, down and sideways
  • Concepts of engagement
  • Value of engagement
  • Strategies of engagement
  • Techniques of engagement
  • Negotiation
  • Business development

Third Movement: You the influencer

  • Creating a strategy of influence
  • Building networks of influence
  • Value of vanity of networking
  • Are you a hedgehog or a fox?
  • Managing yourself
  • Becoming your own product
  • Choices: you, your company, the client
  • Representing your organisation
  • The value of awareness
  • Benefits of a strategy of influence redux

Methodology

The topics in ILE are covered through a Socratic approach. CogitoPraxis poses a scenario, or mini-case study, or problem. Contained within these questions—and therefore within the answers to the questions and within the subsequent discussion—are the topics of influence and leadership embedded in that module. Every ILE assignment is bespoke to suit each client.

Categories
Position Paper

What is GSL™?

POSITION PAPER

What is GSL™?

Corporate citizenship requires major firms to re-think how they fit

by Nicholas Dungan

Major business firms need to prepare now for a sea-change in the way they fit in global society.

A broad-based, holistic concept of corporate citizenship, already displaying increasing momentum, will soon disrupt and displace the mere exercise of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Global firms—multinational enterprises, financial institutions, professional services firms—will henceforth be compelled to prove, convincingly and continuously, their commitment and their conduct as exemplary global citizens.

A new form of thought leadership is needed

People across the world are intent that institutions of all kinds should demonstrate responsible societal behaviour. This determination will only be amplified as global society faces the combined challenges of Covid19, climate change, artificial intelligence and consequent inequalities.

As an essential component of their corporate citizenship, global firms in the top tier of their industries and professions must prepare to exercise a new, consistent and dynamic form of thought leadership: Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™).

GSL™ requires a firm to build its brand equity as a top-tier global standard-setter. Firms will need to produce consistent content as reliable and authoritative as any think-tank, consultancy or university. That content needs to be delivered in a variety of forms, on a variety of platforms, to a variety of audiences. The firm’s representatives must be sought out and respected as experts, to participate in shaping the global conversation, not just to convey corporate messages.

Global audiences will evaluate an organisation’s GSL™ as an indicator of its corporate citizenship. Asset managers should incorporate the quality of a firm’s GSLTM into their ESG criteria.

Major firms which fail to exercise GSL™ will run the risk of losing trust, reputation and value. Those which do it well will almost certainly gain trust, reputation and value.

Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™) takes thought leadership to a higher level

Global firms will increasingly be required to demonstrate the quality of their strategic thinking, over and above their business performance. This is a paramount implication of corporate citizenship. Corporate messages are not enough—indeed, they may erode brand equity on their own.

The new kind of thought leadership required is Global Strategic Leadership (GSL™).

  • GSL™ is global: the breadth and depth of thinking must be all-encompassing, address multi-stakeholder relationships from a pluri-disciplinary platform and extend beyond comfortable close-to-home geographies;
  • GSL™ is strategic: the thinking within GSL must focus on major long-term issues facing thefirm, its industry or profession and all societal stakeholders;
  • GSL™ produces leadership: the firm achieves—and then must maintain—its status as a multi-stakeholder standard-setter for the best quality thinking about the fundamental strategic issues of its business, industry or professional sector within the widest definition of global society.GSL™ requires cross-sector, multi-stakeholder leadership and impact from the firm. The firm’s critical strategic intelligence on priority issues must be a model both within and beyond its industry. Building the firm’s GSL™ requires inclusive change management within and around the firm, across all its ecosystems—and, especially, buy-in and ownership at all levels throughout the entirety of the firm itself.

  • But firms are unprepared
  • Despite heightened awareness, global firms—industrial, financial, services—have yet to come fully to terms with the imperative for broad-based, holistic corporate citizenship. All leading global business firms need to reconsider their business models. And they need to prove to society their ability to think globally and strategically as standard-setters, in order to remain global leaders.

  • CogitoPraxis drives GSL
  • The CogitoPraxis GSL™ model gives equal importance to high-quality thinking and effective practical action. CogitoPraxis designs, executes and re-evaluates its GSL™ assignment jointly with the client organisation, consistently seeking collaborative solutions and positive outcomes. Achieving GSL™ typically involves an assignment in five stages: assessment, objectives, strategy, implementation, impact. Each stage can be undertaken independently, one-by-one. Our goal at CogitoPraxis is to assist each client firm to achieve its own best form of GSL™:
  • support clients in achieving the highest-quality thinking in their areas of speciality and expertise; 
  • collaborate in conveying that thinking to audiences across the client firm’s ecosystems; and
  • create in the client firm lasting stewardship to sustain, renew and perpetuate the client’s GSL™.