EP38 Patty and Lynn final

Episode 38 – Physician Leaders Ask about Influence and Incentives


In response to listener questions and comments, we dive into two topics in this episode. The first is influence, especially when managing “up” or when dealing with a high profile colleague. The second topic is incentives. Podcast episode #35 featured Alfie Kohn who surprised listeners when he described the negative impact of incentives on intrinsic motivation.   

We discuss a model of influence from the work of Jay Conger, who wrote extensively on the topic of influence including his bestselling book Winning ‘Em OverHere is a worksheet that we use in our leadership programs. Conger describes four components of influence that can be useful when trying to persuade an audience to align with your point of view:

·      Credibility

·      Compelling Evidence

·      Common Ground

·      Connecting Emotionally

In this episode, as in our leadership programs, we zero in on Credibility as an important foundation for influence. It is comprised of two components:  your expertise as perceived by the other party (or your audience) as well as the relationships you have already built with those you are seeking to influence. 

Of the other three elements of influence, one that physicians may be tempted to overuse is Compelling Evidence or bringing data to the conversation. Finding Common Ground means walking in the shoes of your audience for a spell. The last one is Connecting Emotionally by appealing to someone’s values and leaning in with your own heart. Unlike the use of logic, emotional connection is often evoked by stories and has a lasting effect.

After we wrap up the influence section, we turn to feedback about the podcast conversation with Alfie Kohn (#35). Based on the questions and comments we received, this incentives episode had an unsettling effect on listeners.  We discuss the misguided use of incentives in healthcare and the use of incentives in mundane and repetitive tasks.  We raise the possibility that steering away from incentives might steer us into better outcomes and more empowering approaches to leadership. And Lynn makes the point that we must not confuse incentives with an important and often overlooked leadership behavior: the expression of genuine appreciation.