Marshall Goldsmith blog - 10 Tips to Influence Decision-Makers

10 Tips for Effectively Influencing Decision-Makers

13 Mar 2020

Most companies train their executives and managers in one form or another on how to lead employees. But, leaders seldom learn how to effectively influence up or across their organization. If they want to convert their ideas into actions successfully, however, they need to know how to convince decision-makers in upper management as well as peers.

Here are our ten suggestions to help develop this crucial skill:

1. Every decision will be made by the person who has the power to make it.

The first step to becoming more effective in influencing others is accepting the fact that the coachee is not always the decision-maker.

2. It is the leader’s responsibility to sell, not the decision-maker’s obligation to buy.

Instead of blaming upper management for not buying ideas, focus the leader’s energy on developing his or her abilities to present ideas effectively.

3. Focus on the larger needs of the organization.

Effective influencers always demonstrate how their suggestions positively impact the corporation as a whole. Leaders can’t assume that decision-makers will make this connection automatically.

4. Strive to win the big battles without wasting energy on trivial points.

High-achieving individuals tend to feel the urge to want to win every argument. This can be counterproductive when time is wasted on issues with negligible impact. You can help leaders to prioritize problems that will make a real difference.

5. A realistic cost-benefit analysis should be part of every idea.

With limited resources available in every organization, leaders have to prepare themselves for a realistic discussion of the costs of their proposal. Ideally, they will anticipate and address possible objections before they occur.

6. Upper management decision-makers make mistakes, too.

Even the most experienced executives are normal humans who might be wrong from time to time. Instead of judging them, leaders can offer support.

7. Decision-makers deserve respect and courtesy.

While it is crucial to challenge up, it should be done constructively. Destructive comments and backstabbing are counterproductive behaviors that undermine relationships and trust.

8. Supporting the final decision demonstrates integrity and commitment.

The best leaders stand behind the final decision of the company, even if it is not their preferred one, and try to make it work.

9. The ultimate goal is to make a positive difference.

When leaders shift their focus towards how they can make things better instead of dwelling on what others are doing wrong, they will ultimately move the organization in the right direction.

10. A future focus helps to let go of the past.

Complaining about past mistakes is a behavior to avoid. Successful leaders learn from the past but always think forward. They concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow.

When leaders invest even a small amount of time in learning how to influence decision-makers, they can have a larger, positive impact on the organization. Executive coaches can help to build this crucial skill. 

Marshall Goldsmith’s Shareholder Centered Coaching program trains coaches to give measurable results, creating positive leadership change. Click here to learn more about this highly effective, proven approach to coaching. Find out when the next workshop starts here.

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