The Art of Influencing: Executives

The Art of Influencing: Executives

This week, we have one of our Coaches, Terry Hildebrandt, PhD, with us to share some tips on how to influence executives (or those above your Boss!)

Take it away Terry:

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“One of the most common topics that comes up when I am coaching mid-level to senior leaders is giving presentations to executives. Having observed executive presentations for over 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that 90% of what you need to cover can be outlined in five questions. These include:

  1. What have you done lately?
  2. What should I be worried about?
  3. What are you going to do to address the risks/issues?
  4. What do you need from me?
  5. What other creative ideas do you have?

Let’s go a little bit deeper into each of these questions.

  1. What have you done lately?

This first question gives you the opportunity to update senior leaders on your accomplishments and your lessons learned. This should always include celebration of successes, even if there have been significant problems. Your lessons learned from the challenges or issues should also be included. Many organizational cultures value learning from failures as much as learning from successes.

  1. What should I be worried about?

The second question is about elaborating on risks and providing updates on problems. Risk management includes not only identifying potential problems but also analyzing harmfulness and likelihood of each risk occurring. You should also be prepared to discuss issues and roadblocks.

  1. What are you going to do to address the risks/issues?

This question should address your plans to mitigate risks and to address problems. This may include contingency planning and preventative actions to prevent certain risks from occurring. You should also address the likelihood of successfully addressing the concerns and what management can expect to see during the next review in terms of progress.

  1. What do you need from me?

This question allows you to ask for additional resources, changes in scope, or approval of modified timelines. Also consider asking for political or relationship capital support in driving changes within the organization, especially with departments where you may have no direct oversight to drive action.

  1. What other creative ideas do you have?

This last question is often overlooked; however, it has the potential for breakthroughs in innovation and creativity. Allowing time in your agenda to explore new approaches and brainstorm possible solutions enables executives to consider alternate strategies and enables you to exhibit your brilliance.

Before going into any executive update, make sure you fully consider the answers to each of these five core questions. I highly recommend you structure your slide deck and agenda to address these five questions any time you are providing updates to senior leaders.”

Thank you, Terry!!

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