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:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PM
“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!!

The Art of Influencing: Your Boss

The Art of Influencing: Your Boss

You know that you’ve got the next big idea for what could really help your team.

You’ve played this scenario over and over in your mind and are only more convinced that this idea is the way to go.

Now the hard part – getting buy-in from your boss.

Learning how to influence your boss is an art!

As you are preparing, check out this article from The Muse.

Below are two of Jo’s suggestions that we really resonated with!

“1. Understand your leaders and their goals”

Really take the time to think about your boss.

We recommend to ask yourself: What have I seen my boss value or what are those key phrases or points I always hear them coming back to?

“2. Communicate in a style that they find persuasive”

Try out a couple of different communication techniques to learn what your boss REALLY hears. Maybe try:

  • Assertively asking for what you want using “I would like ___ so that ____”
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Prep your Boss with material before and then discuss

Leverage what you learn to communicate in the best way for them!

We’d also recommend to leverage your meetings strategically.

If you already have regular meetings with your boss, think about how you can use those as an opportunity to influence, where you come prepared and ready with ideas!

Continuing to Navigate

Rapids 2Last week, Coach Terry, PhD, PCC shared 3 steps on how to use political savvy to expand your influence in a positive way. Well, Coach Terry is back to share the final steps to developing your political strategy.

Take it away, Terry!

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PMNow that we have recognized the key players, identified their interests, and mapped out their power and authority, let’s focus on getting our political strategy defined.

 

Step 4: Conflicts and Alliances

 

In every situation there are likely to be natural conflicts. While you may have had a strong alliance with a key leader yesterday, a new topic may emerge where you now find yourselves at odds. You can better predict likely conflicts by understanding the interests of key players. Frequent contact with the key players is crucial for political savvy.

 

Best Practice: Mapping out the alliances and the conflicts in any given political situation helps you better understand how decisions may be influenced within an organization.

 

Step 5: Political Strategy

 

In this final step, you will synthesize steps 1 through 4 to develop your political strategy.

 

Consider the following key questions:

 

  • Who are my allies that are likely to support me?
  • Who are my detractors, and how much power do they have?
  • Do I have enough support to overcome objections?
  • Who do I need to talk to further to better understand their positions, concerns, and interests?
  • Do I have enough relationship capital to influence those in authority to get what I want?
  • Is the timing right, or should I wait until there is more support for my position?
  • If I move forward, what will be the likely outcome in terms of future support or resistance from stakeholders?

 

The ultimate goal here is to continually build alliances and to avoid making enemies over the long haul.

 

As a reminder, political savvy can be used in an ethical way in an organization to increase your influence and build relationships. By understanding political savvy as a process, anyone can develop the skills to be successful in maneuvering organizational politics to achieve greater influence and business results.

 

So, try it out! Opportunities come up all the time to expand your influence, wherever you are in your organization.

Let us know how it goes!

Navigating Your Workplace

Murkey Water

Organizational politics.

I know… those two little words made you shutter. No matter how large or small an organization is—all of them have politics. Regardless of where you are in your organization, navigating these can be tricky!

Terry Hildebrandt, PhD, PCC is back to Middle Seats to share some tips on becoming more political savvy.

Here’s what he’s got to say:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PMPolitics do not need to be negative. In fact, one can use political savvy in a very ethical and positive way to expand one’s influence and increase the probability of getting what you want at work and in life.

 

Here are some steps:

 

Step 1: Recognize Key Players

 

In any given scenario there will be key players. The obvious players include the executive sponsor, the team members, any relevant customers or suppliers, and supporting staff. What is less clear are the hidden players that work behind the scenes to influence the stakeholders to make certain decisions or take certain actions.

 

Best Practice: Create a Stakeholder Map listing each of the key players and their roles and relationships.

 

Step 2: Identify Interests

 

Each of the key players identified in step 1 will have their own interests that need to be understood. It is your job to build relationships with the key players in order to understand their true motivations. This will require some time and networking skills to talk to those close to key stakeholders to understand their perspectives.

 

Best Practice: create a table listing all the key players and their interests as they become clear to you.

 

Step 3: Understanding Authority and Power

 

Understanding who has authority (those empowered by the organization to make decisions) and who has power (those who have the ability to influence those in authority to make decisions) among the key players will help you understand how influence flows in an organization, how decisions are made, and how resources get allocated.

 

Best Practice: creating a power and authority map of who has access to the ears of key managers can help you better understand how power and authority flow in your organization.

 

Check back next week for Terry’s final two steps!

Stop, Start, and Continue

Stop Light

Ever heard this? “Winners never quit and quitters never win”

I don’t think that’s wise.  Wise winners quit. In fact, people that don’t quit get stuck – and then don’t have room, bandwidth, and energy to get other, more impactful things done.

Perspective on what to do can come from within (reflection) and from others (feedback). Either way – a good, balanced model for yourself and those you manage relates to the stoplight:

  • Stop
  • Start
  • Continue

It’s pretty self explanatory, right? The important part is to balance the elements out.  Why?  Because for every stop, there’s a start and a continue (it’s aggravating to be stuck at stop all the time). The stoplight model addresses a more ‘feed forward’ approach, so you think and talk about what you’re going to do differently the next time, not how things could’ve been better the last time.

Try the stoplight way of giving yourself and others feedback instead of the ‘sandwich’ feedback model where positive stuff sandwiches the negative.

Changing and growing is a continual process of starting, quitting, and learning. Let me know how it works for you.