How do leaders persuade people to do things they would rather not do? The author outlines two very different persuasive techniques based on social science: the “foot-in-the-door” technique and the “door-in-the-face” technique. Each of these techniques can work in the right situation, although neither of them translates perfectly from the ivory-tower world of social-science research into the messy realities of organizational life. But both techniques can help leaders reflect the hard work of making big change, and what is required to get beyond what management theorists like to call “active inertia” — the tendency for people and organizations to seek comfort in the old ways of doing things, even (or especially) when the world around them is changing dramatically.

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