All Articles Leadership Management How needs, narratives and networks can deradicalize extremists and build vibrant work cultures

How needs, narratives and networks can deradicalize extremists and build vibrant work cultures

Learn about three concepts that can drive people to radicalism -- or pull them from the brink.

2 min read


The 3 Ns of persuasion

I read an article recently about a white supremacist who renounced hate. A University of Maryland professor, Arie Kruglanski, was interviewed for the article. I was fascinated at his research.

Kruglanski described how “three Ns” are the foundation of not only recruiting people into extremism but also of deradicalization. These powerful persuaders are needs, narratives and networks.

As I learned more about these persuaders, I realized that these same Ns are the foundation of organizational cultures — for better or worse! More about that in a moment.

Let’s dig into the three Ns. “Needs” describe the basic human quest to matter, to live with significance. For some, their needs drive them to do good, to serve people. For others, their needs lead to violent upheaval. The deciding factor for acting for good or evil, according to Kruglanski, is the second N — “narrative” — that people are exposed to.

If the narrative in your community espouses that the way to significance is through good deeds, you’ll do those. If the narrative espouses fighting the enemy of your beliefs, you’ll do that.

The third N is “network,” a community that rewards behavior and validates members who act in accordance with the narrative for good or for evil.

We all have seen these three Ns play out in healthy and unhealthy work cultures.

Watch this crisp, three-minute video to understand how to embrace needs, narrative, and network so your work culture is purposeful, positive, and productive, every day.

Subscribe to my free twice-a-month newsletter. Subscribers enjoy free resources including a preview of my Amazon best-seller, “The Culture Engine,” which helps team and company leaders create a powerful, purposeful, positive, productive work environment.

And, subscribe to my YouTube channel, where you’ll find more short, crisp, and clear episodes of my “Culture Leadership Charge” video series.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mail on leadership and management, among SmartBrief’s more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.