German Portal



 About RMP

About themanager



The Three Legs Of Persuasion

By Chris Widener


If you have heard me talk about leadership at all, you will know that I have

a very simple definition of Leadership. Leadership is simply: Influence.

That’s it. Simple. When you lead, you influence. To lead others is to

influence them through various means to follow you to your vision of a

preferred thought, belief or action.


One of the key ways to do so is to increase your ability to persuade people.

Now, at first glance you may do as many do and think of persuasion as simply

a verbal plea or argument (in the positive sense of the word) that seeks to

change someone’s mind. I want to focus in on what I believe to be a much

more well rounded view of persuasion, one that has been around for many

hundreds of years, and which, when applied, will increase your ability to

persuade others, or influence them.


My basic points for this article are found from Aristotle’s “The Rhetoric.”

They are what I call the “Three Legs of Persuasion.” Together they enable us

to fully persuade people. Miss any of the three legs and it is like trying

to sit on a three-legged stool that is missing one leg!


What are the three legs? They are:


Logos, or Logic


Pathos, or Passion


Ethos, or Ethics


Let’s start with the two that are most prevalent, Logic and Passion, and end

with what I consider to be the most important, Ethics.

In order to master the art of persuasion, you must have:


1. Logic. Your vision must make sense to the person who is following you (or

the one you are trying to get to follow you!). How is this done?

Vision. Do you have a vision of where it is that you want to go? Do you have

the destination in mind? If you want people to follow you, you need to have

a vision, an end result that you are targeting.


Clarity. Is the vision clear? Can it be articulated clearly? Is it simple

enough to grasp? Does it make sense?


Communication. Can you communicate your vision so that it is understandable

and compelling? Do you communicate it regularly so that the logic of it

sinks in?


Strategy. The strategy for getting to your destination must be logical for

your followers. Does it make sense for them to follow you on the journey of

your vision for your organization? A well-thought out strategy for getting

to your vision is a must.


2. Passion. People underestimate the principle of passion. Today more than

ever, this element of being passionate about your vision is paramount to the

idea of persuasion.


As we leave the modern era and move into what sociologists are calling the

“post-modern” era, people are going to be persuaded less by logic and reason

than they are passion. We live in a video age that uses images and music to

move people more than sense and reason. For example, think about how

basketball shoes are sold today. They ads don’t say, “These shoes are made

from the finest rubber and leather and will sustain the shock of x amount of

pounds of pressure, etc, etc.” No, today shoes are sold by showing

basketball players dribbling the ball to a methodical beat. Image. Passion.


So do we throw out logic? Certainly not, but we understand that the passion

we demonstrate is extremely important. Probably more important than logic

and increasingly so in the years to come.


Are you passionate about your vision? Does that come through when you speak

about it? Does it come through in the materials that you distribute to

support your vision?


People want to know that you are passionate about your vision. If you aren’t

passionate about it, then why should they be? Your vision must be

passionately compelling. After all, you are asking them to put themselves on

the line, to give it all to get the group to the vision. It takes a

passionate person to move a group toward a vision. And the bigger the

vision, the more passion you need to get there!


3. Ethics. This is what I believe to be the most important aspect of these

three legs of persuasion. Ethics. Integrity. Character. However you want to

say it, people look at you and are constantly judging your character.


You may have tremendous skills. You may have all the logic in the world and

passion to fill a sporting arena, but if your followers see a crack in your

character, they will run for the hills. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not

talking about mistakes. Followers will allow for mistakes. But they will not

allow for poor character.


I know what you must be thinking: Wait a minute. We have all sorts of

leaders with poor character - just look at the politicians! A few thoughts

on that very good question:


Many of the people we think have poor character have many others (and in a

politician’s case, they just need 51%) who think their character is fine, or

at least sufficient. So for some the question of ethics has been answered,

just differently than we would answer it. For example, polls show that most

people think that politicians are unethical and corrupt in general. But when

polled on their own representative, they answer that that person is just

fine, thank you very much.


Secondly, we have seen that very talented leaders are eventually undone by

their lack of character, or at least thwarted in their goals of leadership.

Let’s take Bill Clinton for example. What do we know about him? What would

most people agree upon?


For one, he is smart, a Rhode’s scholar. For another, he is talented. Still

more, he is passionate and driven. He is winsome and gregarious. We also

know that he had a few “character problems.”


“But he was re-elected,” you may point out. True, but he didn’t accomplish

what he wanted to because he was answering the question of his character all

of the time. And beyond that, many people who were big supporters of his

ended up realizing that they could have someone else who would provide

leadership without the sideshow, and they abandoned him in droves by the



To his major detractors, Bill Clinton was an example of a person who lacked

the character to lead. To his supporters he has become a caricature of lost

opportunity because of the issues of character. Now, I do not intend to turn

this article into a discussion of politics, but I use Clinton as an example

of how people who are both opposed as well as sympathetic to him and his

vision can agree that character questions were his undoing.


Where does this leave us? Hopefully you aren’t dealing with the kind of

issues we have seen in our political process lately, but you should be

asking yourself what your character is like.


Am I honest? Am I who I say I am? Do I do what is right? Am I responsible?

Am I the same behind closed doors as I am in public? Am I a person of

integrity? These are the most important questions. The way your followers

answer them about you will determine to what degree they follow you. Will

people follow you if your character is less than stellar? Maybe. But all

other things being the same, a strong character will put you over the top.


Logic, passion and ethics are the three legs of persuasion. Become a person

with a vision that is logical and well thought out, combine that with a

passionate pursuit, and you are well on your way to persuading people and

achieving the goal for your organization. The key will be what kind of

character you have. If you develop a fine, strong character, with high

personal ethics, you will have all three legs of persuasion - and you will

become an Extraordinary Leader!



Chris Widener is a popular speaker and writer as well as the President of

Made for Success and Extraordinary Leaders, two companies helping

individuals and organizations turn their potential into performance, succeed

in every area of their lives and achieve their dreams. Join subscribers in

over 100 countries around the world! Get Chris' FREE weekly Made for Success

Ezine by sending a blank email to

<>. Get his FREE daily SuccessQuote™ with

action point by sending a blank email to

<>. Get his FREE monthly Extraordinary Leaders

Ezine, one of the world's most widely distributed leadership newsletters, by

sending a blank email to

<> or visit his websites at and

Copyright 2003 Made for Success. Used by permission. All rights reserved