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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How Do You Handle Conflict?

Now that we’re digging into managing conflict – do you know your conflict management style?

We asked Dr. Terry Hildebrandt, Professional Certified Coach and co- author of Leading Business Change for Dummies, about different ways to manage conflict. Here’s what he had to say:

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When we think of conflict, often we assume that there is only one way to handle it. Kenneth W. Thomas (2002) and Ralph Kilmann have actually identified five strategies to deal with conflict – each having strengths and weaknesses. Managing conflict is a critical management skill that involves partnering with others, building relationships, effectively listening, and negotiation.

Conflict arises when our desires or concerns are at odds with someone else’s desires or concerns. The five conflict styles are a function of two variables: (a) how much you try to satisfy your own concerns, known as assertiveness, and (b) how much you try to satisfy others’ concerns, known as cooperativeness. Here is a brief overview of each style.

Competing: This is perhaps what most of us consider when we think of conflict. We try to win or get what we want, and the other party loses. Competing is high assertiveness and low cooperativeness.

Accommodating: When we accommodate, we give the other person what they want but forgo our own needs or desires. We are unassertive and cooperative.

Avoiding: Many people prefer to avoid conflict altogether. In this case, we are unassertive and uncooperative.

Compromising: When we comprise, we get some of what we want and the other party also gets something, but neither party gets all of their concerns met. We take an intermediate position on both assertiveness and cooperativeness

Collaborating: Much has been written the last decade on the value of collaboration or creating “win-win” solutions. Here we are both assertive and cooperative. Not only do we ensure that our own concerns are addressed, we also take on the concerns of the other party and work together to meet their needs as well.

Terry has gone into some more depth on these conflict styles on his blog.

So, this week, think about which category of conflict management you usually work in.

Then, think about a current or past conflict and determine which type of management style would be best in creating a resolution!