World Monitor Magazine, Economy WM_April 2019 web version (2) - Page 70

additional content Bontempo points out that we often approach a persuasion challenge as if it were a truth winssituation: where we have a demonstrably correct answer based on facts. If the facts are completely on our side, then persuasion isn’t necessary. Instead, the listener has a eureka moment, in which the validity of the new insight is suddenly apparent. But we don’t always have eureka moments at our disposal. We rely upon persuasion when an objective, inarguable truth isn’t available, when the facts can be interpreted in different ways and judgment is required. Then the persuader, instead of arguing to prove a truth, must enable the listener to accept a mere possibility – to accept the idea that another explanation might be viable and begin to consider it. For the wildlings who live on the other side of the wall, Jon Snow’s argument produces that eureka moment. That’s why Tormund Giantsbane is ready to negotiate: He has seen the horror of the White Walkers himself. It is a truth wins situation for the wildlings because they have no wall to protect them. In confronting his brothers on the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow similarly believes that the truth will win. He is wrong. He faces a communication situation in which the answer depends on the judgment of his subordinates. To be sure, many of them agree with him, but a sizable minority, including some of the senior leaders — Jon’s direct reports — are not convinced. They understand the White Walkers are real, but they don’t believe the wildlings can be trusted, and they think the wall, which has held for thousands of years, will withstand any threat. Let the wildlings and White Walkers wipe each other out on the other side. Why should the Night’s Watch care? Jon stumbles in this critical leadership moment because he underestimates the potential backlash of resistance on his team. His truth is not their truth. They are stuck in what Bontempo calls the “latitude of rejection.” They have fought themselves in bloody battles against the wildlings, and have seen their friends killed. One boy, Olly, saw his parents murdered by marauding wildlings. “The lord commander must pardon my bluntness,” says Night’s Watch steward Bowen Marsh, “but I have no softer way to say this. What you propose is nothing less than treason.” Jon responds that their mutual purpose should be the defense of humanity. “I am the shield that guards the 68 world monitor realms of men. Those are the words [of our oath]. So tell me, my lord — what are the wildlings, if not men?” When Bowen Marsh remains unconvinced, Jon stops trying and wheels his horse away; he allows Marsh to stay locked in his bias. He then issues the command to execute his strategy and let the wildlings enter, assuming that his angry team members will resign themselves to following his orders. Instead, a few days later, they lure him into a trap and surround him. He believes they are his sworn allies, but they pull out their knives and unexpectedly stab him. Olly knifes him in the heart. Had Jon Snow engaged in more deliberate conversation, he could have talked openly about the level of anger and rebellion triggered by his leadership decision. He could have chosen to imprison or constrain his potential assassins. Or he might have persuaded them by explaining his judgment more fully, supported by a real discussion of the risks. He could have reminded them of the terrors they had seen from the wights, including two who had come to life inside the castle. “Would an army of wight wildlings be an issue?” This question would have acted as a useful grain of sand and could have supported his effort to defend humanity against a terrible threat. Later in the series, Jon Snow is brought back to life through sorcery — a painful process. He reflects on his failure: “I did what I thought was right. And I got murdered for it.” We all need to remember that when we move into new territory as leaders, even after we achieve success, we may still stumble. If our followers are anchored in the latitude of rejection, we have to find time to communicate — to place the grain of sand into the oyster. Jon Snow could have taken the time to let his more experienced members of the Night’s Watch, such as Bowen Marsh, think through the options and join him in evaluating them. Jon fell into the trap of believing he was limited by time. He did face time constraints, but what limited Jon even more, and seemingly cost him his life, was his inability, as a leader, to practice the art of persuasion under pressure. Leaders in fiction and reality Ned Stark and Jon Snow, as any reader or viewer of the series knows, are just two of many Game of Thrones characters who wrestle with the demands of leadership. The list includes quite a few largely unsympathetic characters, focused on accumulating power and its rewards, such as Petyr Baelish, Joffrey Baratheon, Ramsey