Fast Company

Inviting Others to Become Involved in Your Initiative

There are many ways to get people involved in your effort. The best is to start by inviting them into a conversation. When people are participating in a shared conversation, the topic becomes jointly owned. There is no better environment for inviting significant participation.

Keep in mind, the best work raises the bar for both individuals and organizational performance, and your invitation should never downgrade one for the other. The following questions are designed to show people that getting involved with a bold change initiative can improve their professional standing. It is one of the best, cleanest, and most inciting techniques I know to generate the interest that leads to involvement.

Five Questions That Trigger Professional Excitement
1.    What is the best possible outcome of this initiative in terms of your career?
2.    What professional breakthroughs can this effort facilitate?
3.    What is the highest bar that has been set in your area, and how can this program help you to exceed it?
4.    What is your next step professionally, and how can this work help you get there?
5.    What does every professional who shares your role in this company most want to do, and how can we make it happen as part of what we are doing?

To master this approach, you have to go beyond seeing communication as a way to get your message out. Instead, your goal must be to generate interactions that lay the foundation to a shared and improved future. This is how transformation happens.

Seven Questions to Engage Others in a Better Future
1. What is the right thing to do in this situation?
2. Given this background, what do you think is the best way to go forward?
3. What options are there for resolving existing conflicts?
4. What are some of the best possibilities for getting this right?
5. If you could look at this from above, how would you progress?
6. Can you name creative solutions that we have not yet considered?
7. What is possible here that we have not yet considered?

If you have a story that you are using to spread the word about your initiative, you must bridge that story with your own or what you share will not be compelling. This means you must give thought to your own experience, how your life has been improved, what stirred your personal commitment to the cause. It is this story that will convey your commitment to your listeners.

Six Guidelines for an Effective Personal Story:
1. You must know the core message you are trying to convey – e.g., “This initiative is worth my discretionary time.”
2. Given this message, your story must demonstrate how you came to this conclusion.
3. Your story should be wholly true, something you can share without a need to obfuscate or hide any aspect.
4. Your story should be brief – in most instances, not more than 3 minutes. Practice. Tie yourself.
5. Conclude your story with an invitation for the listener to react – e.g., “What do you think of that?”  Your question is genuine. Listen.  If they give you a one-word answer, probe – e.g., “Say more about that. I’d like to understand what you think.”
6. Conclude with an invitation – e.g., “Would you like to be involved?” or “Would you like to learn more about how you can contribute?” The purpose is not wrest participation. If they are not interested, let it go. However, may deals are not signed simply because no invitation is extended. If you don’t know, ask!

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Seth KahanSeth Kahan (Seth@VisionaryLeadership.com) is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His Web site is VisionaryLeadership.com. His latest book is Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out. Order it via Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble. Download a free excerpt at GettingChangeRight.com

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