Kevin Costner on Influence

You have a brilliant new idea that will revolutionize your organization. After researching its key points and honing it into perfection, you gather your team and give them every detail of this world-changing nugget. A week later, nothing’s been done to get the project moving. What happened? Maybe Kevin Costner can shed some light.

Award winning actor, producer, and director Kevin Costner knows how to make a sports-themed movie. From such baseball-centric classics as Bull Durham and Field of Dreams to the recent football drama Draft Day, Kevin’s films speak to a diverse audience, not just those in the sports demographics. Counter to what you might expect, he stated that to make a good sports movie…

…you’ve got to cut down on the sports. You have to make it about people. You can’t try to impress people with your knowledge and the X and O’s and all the details and the technicalities.

Kevin did not rely on the sports details to influence viewers. He connected with their emotional side. Too often, leaders forget this fact. We get lost in our ideas and forget that everyone around us may not feel as passionately as we do. That’s why the power to influence is important; it’s the only way we can get anyone to do anything…short of resorting to coercion or bribes.

True influence begins with convincing the heart, not persuading the brain. When you need to influence someone, consider their needs and motivations before talking about how it will benefit the company and all mankind.  The popular “What’s In It For Me” idiom is not a cliché; it is a very real concern that every leader must be able to identify for every member of their team. Once you’ve made this connection and have them on your side, you can sell the wide-ranging benefits and get into details.

Kevin uses sports as a backdrop to tell a bigger story. You can use your projects as a backdrop to tell your bigger story, the vision of your organization.