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“Bob Burg opens the floodgates to Fort Knox.”

~ Dottie Walters, Author, Speak & Grow Rich

The Rope of Leadership and Influence

January 21st, 2014 by Bob Burg

Recently on Facebook and Twitter I posted the following:

“How far can you push a rope? Not very far.
That’s why true influencers don’t push.”

A reader asked, “But if you think about how hard and how often to “pull” when are you being strategic and when merely manipulative?”

I thank him for caring enough to want to use influence for good.

First, a powerful influencer does not pull hard; they pull gently.

Regarding the second part of his question, it depends whether you are thinking only of yourself without caring how it affects the other person. That would be manipulation.

On the other hand, if you are focused on helping them; combining the benefits of your goal with THEIR wants, needs, desires, goals, and values then it’s very positive; what I would call “positive persuasion.”

It’s also important to interpret the quote in context. If a person wanted to utilize the message in order to manipulate, they could. But, it’s not good business and it’s not good life.

Once you obtain a reputation for being self-centered and manipulative, you’ll find people staying away from you in droves. And, even those people who must be around you and work with you will resist and perhaps even sabotage whenever possible.

If one wants to use the message of the quote in order to benefit those they are influencing, they can do that. And, that’s what great leaders; what great influencers do.

And, that’s why they are successful.


27 Responses to “The Rope of Leadership and Influence”
  1. Todd Weaver said at 9:43 am on

    I believe there can be a fine line here if my focus and motives are somewhat wishy-washy. We see how truly great leaders and influencers live and rarely hear them talk about their leadership and their influence. They don’t have to push hard because we are attracted to them. Once we are attracted, we become inspired. And inspiration is an internal force. People will do what we do because they want what we have, wether that’s tangible or percieved. Greatness starts at home. The true measure of a man is how he acts once he crosses the threshold of his own home.

  2. Bob Burg said at 10:05 am on

    Todd: Very insightful thoughts regarding the essence of a leader and inluencer. Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. Hi Bob!

    Love the post. I think another consequence of being manipulative is that those around you or that work for you won’t trust you. Manipulation is such a harmful habit, I, particularly, can’t see good intentions with someone who is manipulative.

    BTW, I loved Dondi’s call yesterday, great insights, loved how she focused influence from her side, as a mentor.


  4. Bob Burg said at 10:04 am on

    Maria: Thank you. Yes, very true. Indeed, manipulation results in a lack of trust, big-time!! And, thank you for your comments regarding the call with Dondi. She was amazing as always, wasn’t she?!

  5. Pili Cuadrado said at 10:15 am on

    Amazing and brilliant as always, indeed! :))

  6. Anita Casalina said at 11:56 am on

    Thank you Bob! This is a great topic for discussion about leadership. It also seems vital to treat each person as an individual. Some people may have been manipulated in the past and are on guard, whereas others are just waiting to be pointed in a new direction.

  7. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:57 am on

    AWESOME article Bob! I LOVE this “pull gently” – shows CARE and LOVE – which I treasure VERY MUCH – and you definately MASTER just that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank’s Bob.
    Hugs and love to you from your Danish Connection 🙂

  8. Kumar Gauraw said at 1:13 pm on

    Wow! Incredible article with again a master stroke!
    Positive persuaders “pull gently” not “hard” and that’s a fabulous statement coming from the master!
    Bob, I have received a lot of great feedback from some of my blog readers who went ahead and purchased your book. Thank you for adding value through your articles and your awesome books from time to time!

    Have a glorious New Year!


  9. Frederique Murphy said at 1:56 pm on

    Insightful, as always Bob.

    I especially like that piece “If a person wanted to utilize the message in order to manipulate, they could.” I’ve found this to be SO true over the years, and always think back to something one of my mentors once said to me “Tools are ethic-less, the ethic comes from the person using the tool”, or the skills, or the techniques. And, that’s why it always comes down (or up to) the intent of the person.

  10. Bob Burg said at 5:14 pm on

    Anita: Thank you for your insight. Great point!

  11. Bob Burg said at 5:14 pm on

    Lene: Thank you for your always-kind words and, of course…hugs right back at ya’! 🙂

  12. Bob Burg said at 5:16 pm on

    Kumar: Thank you so much for your very kind words and positive feedback. Hugely appreciated! So glad to know your readers have enjoyed the book!

  13. Bob Burg said at 5:19 pm on

    Frederique: I appreciate you sharing that wise insight. Indeed, just as fire can be used to burn down a building or to keep someone warm on a cold night, the tool itself is simply that – a tool. How it’s used is up to the person using it. Thank you!

  14. Bill Ellis said at 6:11 pm on

    Manipulation vs influence is certainly a vital topic. One has very much of a self-focus – manipulation – while the other is more inclusionary – influence.

    Influence to me relies on attraction whereas manipulation relies on promotion. While promotion in and of itself is NOT bad…it becomes so when the promotion is done without the best interest(s) of the party being promoted to in mind.

    Love the rope analogy and the ‘soft’ pull thought. Thanks for the thought provoking discussion Bob.

  15. Bob Burg said at 6:40 pm on

    Thank YOU, Bill. Yes, I see the big difference in intent and focus. The manipulator is focused only on themselves and how it effects them. The persuader is other-focused or – as you said it even better, “inclusionary.” Thank you for sharing your insights with us!

  16. […] The Rope of Leadership and Influence http://www.burg.com/2014/01/the-rope-of-leadership-and-influence/ […]

  17. Manny Rodriguez said at 1:27 pm on

    Sincerity and empathy go a long way….not manipulation…..Thanks for the great post Bob…You are a fantastic writer!

    Warm regards,


  18. Bob Burg said at 1:28 pm on

    Manny: Thank you for your very kind words. Much appreciated!

  19. Mitch Jackson said at 11:10 am on

    Enjoyed the post and sharing this weekend!

    What I like about your book “Adversaries into Allies” is that it shows you how to get the other person to let go of the rope and instead reach out for your hand.

    Good stuff Bob 🙂

  20. Bob Burg said at 11:37 am on

    Mitch: WOW – what a great way of putting it. Thank you!! And, thank you for your kind words about the book!

  21. Very true indeed once you get that reputation of being pushy nobody wants anything to do with you… Great post… Have a fabulous new week. And look forward to many more great posts…

  22. Fred Swan said at 11:00 pm on

    Great Article.

    Pulling together on the rope is motivational.
    Teaching how to pull together correctly is vital any successful business or life.

  23. Bob Burg said at 6:50 am on

    Fred: Terrific insight! Thank you for contributing!

  24. […] them into two groups: those that pull (influencers) and those that push (dictatorial). In Bob Burg’s blog he asked “How far can you push a rope? Not very far. That’s why true influencers don’t […]

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