Blog entry by Orji Anyianuka
In the modern business environment, leaders are not expected to use their authority to force others to carry out tasks. Rather leaders are expected to influence action through persuasion, and business audiences expect persuasion to be rational and not primarily emotional.
To appeal to others through reasoning, leaders have to use arguments, which is a way of reaching a conclusion by using evidence. Evidence comes in different forms - they could be qualitative or quantitative facts, calculation, inferences, theoretical knowledge, personal experience, and expert opinion.
An argument consists of three elements: 1. The evidence, 2. The Assumption, and 3. The conclusion. Oftentimes, only the evidence and conclusions are presented together. For example, in the statement ‘our cost rose by thirty per cent in the last year, we must reduce our cost’, the evidence is ‘our cost rose by 30 per cent in the last year’, and the conclusion is ‘we must reduce our cost’. The assumption is missing in the statement, but it is implied. The assumption could be ‘the increase in cost reduced our profit', but that may not be the case. It is also possible that the profit increased by 100 per cent, against the 30 per cent increase in costs.
The quality and strength of an argument lie in the assumptions. If the assumptions are wrong, then the argument is incorrect, and if the argument is not acceptable by the audience, it will not yield the desired results. It is important to note that an argument might be incorrect and be accepted by the audience and that an argument might be correct and yet rejected by the audience.