12 Angry Men and Executive Coaching

Have you seen the movie Twelve Angry Men? If you are a coach, you absolutely must.

I saw the movie a long time ago, and just saw it performed as a play at the Asolo Theater here in Sarasota, Florida.

In it, 12 jurors must deliberate on what seems like an open-and-shut murder case. The initial vote is 11 jurors for a guilty verdicts and one for a not guilty verdict. The 11 jurors are furious. They have things to do, including one juror who has tickets to a baseball game.

The play is about how the 12th juror holds his ground and gradually sways each and every other juror.

It is an incredible case study about how to influence people, how to take a stand, and how to use what leverage one has to do the right thing.

At first, the 12th juror uses his "not guilty" vote to make sure that there is enough discussion before convicting the defendant. He admits that he doesn't know whether they defendant is guilty or not, but wants to talk about it. He believes that every defendant deserves that right, especially when a death sentence is required in case of a guilty verdict.

The jurors are furious at him, because they think the case is clear — especially when the 12th juror admits that the defendant might be guilty or might not be.

Now the 12th juror uses the form of influence known as negotiating. He says, "Let's just talk for an hour. If you all still vote guilty after that hour, I'll go along with you."

From there, he raises each and every piece of evidence, and uses facts and logic to systematically dismantle the prosecution's case.

But he does more than that. With each and every fact, he convinces just one more juror that there is a shadow of a doubt. He creates a growign coalition of jurors on his side, who start to persuade other jurors. 

By the end, only a few bigoted or highly biased jurors remain, and it takes the large coalition of jurors to stand up for the defendant and overcome their emotional, irrational attachment to a guilty verdict.

The Center for Executive Coaching has some excellent content on coaching clients to become more influential. This includes the types of conversations that influence others, as well as how to get an idea accepted in a politically charged organization, and how to build one's power base over time. At the same time, if you haven't seen Twelve Angry Men, get it today!

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