Are you in a situation where you’d like to make a contribution but can’t seem to make your manager or CEO pay attention? I’ve had clients tell me about the wonderful ideas their leaders won’t listen to. Guess what? It’s not the idea they aren’t hearing; it’s you. It’s time you learnt how to influence people more senior than you – how to influence up.
“Like many other leadership skills, the ability to influence isn’t automatic due to your position or role, nor is it inherent. The ability to influence can be learned and developed with practice and is well worth the effort when you consider the potential benefits.”
It starts with you.
You might be thinking how difficult your CEO is being by not grabbing your great idea with both hands. Here’s the thing. Your CEO or leader isn’t being difficult. The problem is that you don’t have a strategy for making your boss want to listen. The art of influencing up starts with self-awareness and is followed by strategy.
How does your leader see you?
How have you presented yourself in the workplace?
If you haven’t spent time establishing your credibility and professionalism, you can understand why they might not pay you any attention.
- Are you reliable?
- Do you communicate well?
- Are you a team player?
- Do you do quality work?
- Have you come to their attention at all (in a positive way?)
Your ability to influence is a reflection of skills, behaviours and relationships. Time spent on self-development will always boost your credibility. It will increase the range of skills you need to clearly communicate your ideas.
Clever strategies to influence
1. Understand what matters to your leader.
It’s difficult for anyone to be heard if they are talking about an idea which doesn’t relate to the major concerns of their leader. Writing in Forbes, Jo Miller, leadership coach says, “Once you know what your boss is focused on, work backward to craft your messages, establishing a clear link between your most important talking points and his or her most important priorities.” Connect your ideas directly to organisational and team goals. It’s hard not to listen to something so relevant.
2. Think beyond data.
While facts and figures can make indisputable evidence to support your case, it’s not always enough to win people over. They come second to the emotional connection and engagement. Tell the story, paint the picture. Seek engagement first and let your leader use the facts and figures to mentally justify their decision.
3. Clarity and confidence will support you.
Polish your executive presence and your ability to inspire confidence. If you look confident, your leader is more likely to feel confidence in you. Prepare yourself before presenting your idea or asking for what you need. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Smooth and cohesive delivery means your message is more likely to be received.
4. Build relationships and alliances.
Strong relationships are important when you’re trying to influence without authority. Build relationships within your team and with people likely to be on the same page. Get to know your leader and allow him or her to know you. Look for the key influencers in your organisation and get to know them. Build your networks and include people in senior roles. Let them get to know you and start to gain their respect. You’ll always have people to support your case formally or informally with your leader or CEO.
5. Accept rejection gracefully.
No matter how well you present your ideas, there will be times when they are rejected. How you handle the rejection affects your credibility for the future.
- Ask for feedback and listen to it.
- Hear the reasons for the rejection.
- Reflect on your presentation and look for gaps or ways you could have better communicated the idea.
- Consider the language you used and, especially for women, look for those words we tend to use which dilute our point of view. End the
- conversation on a positive note so the lasting impression is that you’re full of savvy ideas.
6. Stop diluting your words
I covered this topic in last weeks post, and if you haven’t yet mastered the art of powerful communication, it’s time you did. Here are some techniques you can practice and incorporate into your delivery.
By following these strategies and paying attention to your actions and behaviours in the workplace, you will be able to influence up and overcome the power gap. Stay in control of your year and your career.
Would you like more information about influencing up and how you can become a powerful influencer? Let’s chat about how I can help you.