On a call this week with a not-for-profit organization I work with we discussed everything from keeping up morale to how to build awareness and compliance within our communities to abide by social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  One of my colleagues reminded us all – these are the moments when we need to tap into all we’ve learned and studied about leadership and influence.  All the experiences, books, classes and mentors we’ve benefitted from are gold mines to plunge and activate in real-time.

My colleague said, “Hey, how can we use the persuasion principles you teach in “Lead with Influence” to get community members to abide by social distancing and more during this pandemic?”  It was a great idea and invigorated the group by having an interactive conversation about how to leverage these principles, originally introduced by Dr. Robert Cialdini.




Keeping in mind the group’s objective to clarify misinformation, provide practical guidance and stimulate adherence to national and local guidelines, here are some of the messaging examples we surfaced to get community members to take action.  If you had the same assignment, what would be your customized approaches?

  • Reciprocity:  New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, provided a great example when he made a plea for ventilators asking for anyone who could (within his state or outside) to send the ventilators they are not using and NY will gladly supply you with more later…Do this for us now and we will be there for you later.

A local message might be:  If you can help me distribute these informational flyers in your building, safely, I will assist you next week in providing meals for the homeless.

  • Scarcity:  Time is of the essence.  Using the scarcity principle might sound like: “There is little time left to take definitive action before we experience a surge in spread activity…Act now before it is too late.”

A local message might be: “Only 2 days left before the lockdown.  Get your supplies in the next 48 hours.”

  • Authority:  White House health advisor Anthony Fauci, M.D says, “This is not business as usual. We cannot treat this as business as usual.  We must take definitive action.”

A local message might be: Our school superintendent, Delores Jones, mandates that schools will stay closed until further notice…”

  • Consistency:  Community Influencers can leverage consistency effectively – “We need you and count on you to help us spread the word.  Are you with us?”
  • Liking:  Community Advocates could say: “We’ve been neighbors for a long time, we care about each other – can you help me spread the word?”
  • Consensus:  Nationally we are all aware of the slogan:  We are in this together.  A powerful tool to persuade is consensus: “I just spoke with folks in the Martingale complex and they are all onboard.  Will you help too?”

Compliance and Collaboration have never been as important as they are right now to combat COVID-19.  It is essential that we lead and influence with integrity and do the right thing to ensure protection for us all.

What have you learned in recent years about leadership, influence, teamwork, and motivation that you could activate to help your community or your organization survive and thrive during these challenging times?  Your voice matters.