How to Influence Decision Makers
Managing up is a leadership tactic that employees are using in today’s workplace as a means of influencing the top decision makers within the company. Expert leadership consultant, Peter Drucker, dubbed this strategy, “The Art of Influencing Up,” in his highly acclaimed blog. This strategy is one that employees at all levels can use to directly influence decision makers.
The discouraging fact is that numerous workers only maintain a downward management mentality. This downward focus will only permit the employee to retain the decision-making power they have already been granted over their subordinates. This focus will not provide them with any credible authority in the workplace, nor provide a means for their advantageous ideas to become reality.
Drucker is more to the point, in this statement about downward focus,“The great majority of people tend to focus downward. They are occupied with efforts rather than results. They worry over what the organization and their superiors ‘owe’ them and should do for them. And they are conscious above all of the authority they ‘should have.’ As a result they render themselves ineffectual.”
Obtaining Real Influential Power
You may be skeptical of taking on an influence without authority perspective, but there are strategies that you can adopt to achieve a level of influential power despite your workplace environment.
Understand of the Organizational Structure
One of the most important aspects of this leadership approach is to recognize the developed organizational structure of the business. You must not only distinguish which members of management maintain the decision-making power, but you must also relinquish any considerations of overthrowing that power. Influence in the decision-making process does not equate to a power struggle. It is about learning to properly communicate ideas that will be heard, understood and embraced. Once you understand and accept this structure, you will be more powerful when proposing and negotiating your ideas.
Establish Clear Objectives
In addition, you must establish clear objectives that detail your exact visions and goals. This will ensure you keep the focus on the initial concept and create an appropriate plan of action. It is vital to continuously focus the beneficial points of your idea on the upper management team and the company. You certainly do not want to focus on how your proposal will help you in the workplace. Therefore, it is crucial to explain how the improvement would relate to upper management and be valuable to the company as a whole.
You also must be able to clearly communication your idea. To accomplish this, you must first develop a well-planned and organized proposal. You will also need to have exceptional communication, as well as influencing and negotiating skills. Whether you are a natural born communicator or not, it is advisable that you obtain leadership training or attend various business-minded seminars to learn effective communication strategies. Without these required skills, your ideas are likely to only be heard and not implemented.
Never start pitching an idea without any thought and preparation. Your upper management team will not take your ideas seriously and you will indeed prove to be ineffectual. You need to be able to answer the vast array of questions that they may have about your proposal. Remember that you can never be too prepared. Compile reports, graphs, and facts that will back-up your idea. Consider creating a cost-benefit analysis, or preparing a projected return-on-investment report. Bottom line is that your management team wants to know how the company will benefit.
Influential decision-making is a strategy that every employee should acquire, in order to play a vital role within the company. This influence is attainable by employees at every level within the business, despite their authoritative power. It does require obtaining fundamental skills, such as leadership influence skills, communication tools, and negotiating techniques. To obtain or improve upon these skills, you should be determined to educate yourself about leadership and the power of influence by attending leadership workshops or seminars, taught by professional business consultants.
About the Author: Alan Vengel is the CEO of Vengel Consulting, an author and developer.