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Effectively Influencing Decision Makers

| August 11, 2009

by Jim Bruce

Much of a leader’s time is spent, formally or informally, working to influence decision makers, typically peers, cross-organizational colleagues, or those higher up in the organization.  The Tuesday Reading this week – Effectively Influencing Decision Makers:  Ensuring That Your Knowledge Makes a Difference – focuses on just this subject.

To begin the article, Marshall Goldsmith quotes Peter Drucker as having said that knowledge workers can be defined as people who know more about what they are doing than their managers do.  He then notes that though knowledge workers have years of education and training for that work, they have little training in how to effectively influence decision makers.

Goldsmith then sets forth ten guidelines to help in your influencing of decision makers:

1.  When putting forth a proposal to a decision maker, your responsibility is to sell the proposal.  It is not the decision maker’s responsibility to buy.  You need to take responsibility for achieving results.

2.  Focus on the needs of the decision makers and those they represent, not on achieving your objectives.

3.  Focus to win “the big battles.”  Don’t waste energy and capital on the trivial points.

4.  Present real cost-benefit analyses.  Don’t just sell the benefits.

5.  Never remain silent on the ethical issues.

6.  Remember, those you are working to influence are human too.

7.  Don’t be disrespectful.

8.  Support whatever decision is made.  This is not a time to say “They made the wrong decision!”  Treat the decision maker like you would want to be treated in a similar situation.

9.  Make a positive difference – don’t just try to win or be right.

10. Focus on the future;  let the past go.

By spending some time learning to influence decision makers, you can make a much larger positive difference.  Today is a good day to start.


.  .  .  .  .    jim