As a good leader, salesperson or influencer, you will always be on the lookout for ways to build commitment in others. When people really commit to something, they will go the extra mile, put in their energy and creativity and more than pull their weight. On the other hand, if people are just going along with something to please you, they will do the least possible. Sounds familiar?
An important key to building commitment is the power of a compelling invitation. Particularly when you’re getting to know people and wanting to build a relationship, you can create and use compelling invitations to offer people the chance to be involved. The point about offering – as opposed to simply telling – is that an invitation has to be accepted. That’s how we get commitment – by inviting the others to join us at their own discretion.
My research around the world into how leaders act as hosts shows that a compelling invitation has three key elements:
1. Acknowledgement – What I value about YOU and why I’d really like you to be part of this
Think about it: to receive a great invitation is always affirming. Even if we don’t want to say yes, it’s an honor to have been asked. It just feels good to be invited; the experience of an invitation is nourishing. A key part of this acknowledgment is to focus on what you appreciate about the person, their skills, qualities, strengths – why is it that we want them to be with us?
2. Attraction – To what am I inviting you?
Secondly, an invitation needs to be attractive. What’s the project? What are our best hopes, intentions, vision, purpose, objectives? What will the benefits be, and who will enjoy/reap them? When well executed, invitations connect with the person’s vision of themselves, honor it and match it with the project, the conversation, the opportunity.
3. Choice – to get an authentic and heartfelt 'Yes' there has to be the possibility of a 'No'
Third, an invitation has choice. For there to be the possibility of a meaningful Yes, there also has to be the possibility of an equally meaningful No. It has to be (somewhat) okay if the person says no, because then there IS the space and the grace to say Yes.
4. Use the ‘power of the ask’
When we put a compelling invitation together, we draw on the ‘power of the ask’. When we don’t use this, we are in essence saying ‘No’ before the question has even been asked. The power of the ask is a well-known expression in fundraising circles. Unless we ask, straight out, for money, people are unlikely to give any. Of course, if we just ask without any preamble, you may not get much response. The effectiveness of the ask is closely linked to how compelling our invitation is.
5. Have a clear next step for action
Having used the power of the ask to make our compelling invitation, make sure there is an action step for people to accept – and remember, the easier it is to do the action step, the better. If people know how to accept right away, they are much more likely do it there and then – with commitment and enthusiasm.
By Mark McKergow, co-author Host: Six new roles of engagement for teams, communities, organisations and movements. Inviter is one of the six roles discussed in the book.