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Extraordinary Influence

How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others

By Tim Irwin
13-minute read
Audio available
Extraordinary Influence: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others by Tim Irwin

Extraordinary Influence (2018) delves into the latest neuroscientific research to shed light on the secrets behind effective leadership. The key? Communication. Getting that right, clinical psychologist and corporate consultant Tim Irwin argues, doesn’t just keep team members motivated – it also drives them to go the extra mile and perform at their highest level. 

  • CEOs and business leaders
  • Team leaders looking to up their game 
  • Coaches and communication experts

Tim Irwin studied organizational and clinical psychology at Georgia State University. An adjunct professor at his alma mater, Irwin is also a contributor to Business Week and the Wall Street Journal as well as a regular guest on Fox Business News. He is also an acclaimed consultant who has worked with major firms in both North and South America. Irwin’s previous books include Derailed and the best-selling Impact

 

© Tim Irwin: Extraordinary Influence 2018, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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Extraordinary Influence

How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others

By Tim Irwin
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Extraordinary Influence: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others by Tim Irwin
Synopsis

Extraordinary Influence (2018) delves into the latest neuroscientific research to shed light on the secrets behind effective leadership. The key? Communication. Getting that right, clinical psychologist and corporate consultant Tim Irwin argues, doesn’t just keep team members motivated – it also drives them to go the extra mile and perform at their highest level. 

Key idea 1 of 8

The human brain loves affirmation, but it needs more than a pat on the back. 

Losing can be devastating. Take it from the author’s son, the captain of his school’s football team. The athletes he was leading had put a ton of effort into improving their performance but still ended up losing a vital match. 

After the game, the opposing team’s coach came up to the author’s son and told him that it’d been an honor playing against him and his team. Despite the loss, he added, they’d played their hearts out and shown tremendous courage. It was just what the boy needed to hear, and it took the sting out of the defeat. After that pep talk, he even felt inspired. 

No wonder: the human brain craves affirmation. That’s backed up by hard evidence. Neuroscientific research carried out over the last couple of decades has shown that the brain responds physically to positive emotional feedback. 

How? Simply put, it releases neurochemicals which increase our sense of wellbeing. According to a 2005 study by the American psychologists Creswell, Welch and Taylor, affirmation reduces stress and sharpens our problem-solving skills. And that, in turn, boosts our overall performance. 

That said, it’s important to remember that affirmation comes in different forms. Social life is full of low-key acts of affirmation. We often compliment someone on their clothes, for example, or tell a coworker that they’ve done a “great job.” These small pats on the back are nice enough, but they’re not the same thing as real affirmation. 

The difference becomes apparent when you look at the etymological roots of the term itself. “Affirmation” comes from the Latin noun affirmatio, which is derived from the verb “to strengthen” or “fortify.” True affirmation, then, is deeper than a throwaway compliment. It’s about accompanying someone through a process and offering constant reinforcement through constructive feedback and – when it’s deserved – high praise. 

A good example of how that might play out comes from the culinary world. In Japan, sushi apprentices spend years doing menial work before they’re allowed to complete even simple cooking tasks like preparing eggs. When they’ve finally mastered their craft, they receive the honorific title of shokunin or “artisan” from their master. 

That’s the final act of support and affirmation bestowed by their teachers, the sushi masters who’ve spent years closely guiding their apprentices through the tricky process of mastering sushi-making. 

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