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Conversations The Power of Dialogue

We (the authors) didn’t always spend our time noodling over crucial conversations. In fact, we started our research into orga¬≠ nizational and personal excellence by studying a slightly different topic. We figured that if we could learn why certain people were more effective than others, then we could learn exactly what they

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did, clone it, and pass it on to others.

To find the source of success, we started at work. We asked people to identify who they thought were their most effective




colleagues. In fact, over the past twenty-five years, we’ve asked over twenty thousand people to identify the individuals in their

organizations who could really get things done. We wanted to find those who were not just influential, but who were far more influential than the rest.

Each time, as we compiled the names into a list, a pattern

emerged. Some people were named by one or two colleagues. Some found their way onto the lists of five or six people. These

were the good at influence, but not good enough to be widely

identified as top performers. And then there were the handful

who were named thirty or more times. These were the best-the clear opinion leaders in their areas . Some were managers and

supervisors. Many were not.

One of the opinion leaders we became particularly interested

in meeting was named Kevin. He was the only one of eight vice

presidents in his company to be identified as exceedingly influ­

ential. We wanted to know why. So we watched him at work.

At first, Kevin didn’t do anything remarkable. In truth, he looked

like every other VP. He answered his phone, talked to his direct

reports, and continued about his pleasant, but routine, routine.

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