Ten Points to be a Better Up and Out Influencer
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Upward Management
Alberto has just been hired to head up the program management office for Aspiron Group.
Alberto prepares a 30-minute presentation to replace the organization’s status reporting system for his vice president, Irene.
Alberto and Irene will be meeting each other for the first time.
At the beginning of his presentation, Irene gets an urgent phone call and apologizes to Alberto saying she only has 15 minutes.
Alberto presents slide 1, his view of why the organization needs a new status reporting system.
Irene immediately starts questioning Alberto about his reasons for wanting to replace the current system and why money should be redirected from other priorities to the new system.
Alberto, unable to satisfactorily answer some of Irene’s questions, fumbles for answers and gives a lot of “I’ll have to get back to you on that” statements.
After 15 minutes, Irene again apologizes for having to cut the meeting short and leaves the room. “What is he talking about?” Irene thinks as she leaves.
Alberto is left alone sitting in the room, having never gotten past slide 1, feeling as if he’d blown setting a positive first impression with Irene.
Poor Alberto. Not only is it less likely that he will get the new status reporting system, but he has also failed to establish credibility with Irene. Rather than starting from a positive or neutral credibility position, he’s now operating from a deficit position, making it more difficult to influence Irene in the future.
As a leader, there are two vitally important concepts you need to clearly understand when influencing up and out. The first is the five tollgates that I believe leaders must successfully pass to effectively influence up and out (who I will refer to as recipients):
With tollgate 5 comes the second important concept, which is about decision ownership. There are four decision ownership scenarios, as follows:
I can’t over-emphasize enough the importance of these two concepts when influencing up and out. The first ensures alignment with how a problem needs to be solved and what you expect the recipient to do, and the second articulates the roles you and the recipient play in any decision-making.
Do you need to be better at influencing up and out? Here are ten points to consider:
The Consequences: Being ineffective at influencing up and out can lead to the following:
The Next Steps:
Genuinely and Humbly Seeking Wisdom
Categories: Career Management, Communications, Leadership, Leadership
I can freely admit that this situation happened to me. I was Frank. It was painful. It was humiliating. It was also what I needed to accept that I wasn’t “all that.” I needed to be humble enough to listen to others when they were telling me the stove was hot and if I touched it I’d get burned. That’s not to say I have always put in motion any wisdom given to me, but I can say that I now genuinely seek wisdom from those equipped to give it. There have been countless times my path was altered because of wisdom given, and I’m thankful for it.
Simply put, seeking wisdom is critical to your growth as a leader and can save you a lot of heartache. Give these nine principles a look and see if any resonate with you:
The Consequences: Not genuinely seeking the wisdom of others can lead to the following consequences:
The Next Steps:
Shooting the Messenger
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Project Management
When I screw up, I have one way that I have found effective at helping me get through it and learn from it.
I write about it.
This is one of those royal jerk screw-up times.
Patty and I stayed at a hotel where we paid about $300/night. The room was clean and the location good, but the service and amenities were definitely substandard, certainly not something we’d expect from a $300/night room. The night before we checked out, we put together a number of issues and I sent it to the hotel’s customer service site, requesting a reduction in our room rate. The next morning, I talked with the hotel sales director about some of our issues. She was pleasant and empathic and said she would talk with the general manager. A couple of hours later while driving we got a call from the sales director informing us that the hotel would not make any adjustment.
This is where the jerk part comes in.
I told - no yelled – that the sales director was making a mistake and that we were going to publish our issues with a poor rating on the travel website that we booked the reservation. After a couple more words I hung up. Patty was silent, which meant I was in the doghouse. I said to her, “Hilton would have given us better service.” That’s when she told me (rightly so) that I was rude to the sales director, that she was only the messenger, and that I should have never talked to her that way. The next 30 minutes in the car were pretty silent; I knew she was right and just needed a bit of time to reflect. We stopped at a Subway for lunch and while we split a turkey sub I told her she was right and how I shouldn’t have done what I did. After we arrived at our next hotel I emailed her an apology which she graciously responded to. Even with the apology, I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting a Christmas card from her.
I’d like to say that my primary motivation for writing this article was to give you something to chew on; actually, it’s more a reminder to me and if you get collateral benefit then all the better. Even after reflecting on my actions I still believe that me being disappointed with our stay at the hotel was justified. However, as I look back on my actions there are four things I did wrong:
My point to not only you as my readers but as a reminder to me is as follows: be firm in your convictions but do it with respect. You don’t have to be a wet noodle and give in to others; just don’t be a horse’s hind during the process.
Sloppy or Shady?
Categories: Career Management, Communications, Leadership, Project Management
Recently I received two LinkedIn requests to connect, one from a rep at a well-known insurance company and the other from a financial planner at a well-known financial services company. In the first request the rep told me that the insurance company notified him that my construction company is eligible for a special program that grants an immediate discount.
Sounds great; the problem is I don't own a construction company.
Twice I asked him to tell me who at the insurance company notified him. He finally responded with a “nobody notified us,” even though in his original message he was “notified by <insurance company> that my construction business qualifies for the discount.”
In the second request the financial planner told me he works with a few employees of LonniePacelli.com and would love to walk me through his investment process.
I have two employees; myself and my wife, who confirmed with me she is not sitting on a wad of cash and investing without my knowledge.
I asked him which LonniePacelli.com employees he worked with. He responded and weakly blamed it on an auto-response that he used for other clients. He did apologize for the inconvenience, but the fact that he gave a bogus excuse didn’t sway me.
I am intentionally not divulging the company names nor the individuals who sent me connection requests; there's no need to do that. Getting these two messages caused me to think more about these types of requests and the impression it left on me. With the financial services request, the financial planner blamed it on technology and didn’t take the time to review a very short LinkedIn message before sending it off to me. With the insurance request, the rep flat-out lied to me when I pressed him for an answer.
Sloppy financial planner. Shady insurance rep. Neither worthy of my business.
One can argue that the sloppy financial planner just made an honest mistake. Maybe so. However, the financial planner was pitching me on him managing my money. Do I really want someone overseeing my nest egg who doesn’t even take the time to read a simple LinkedIn message before sending it? Sorry, but no chance. The first and lasting impression he left, even though he apologized, was one of someone who doesn’t pay attention to details. Not a good impression for a money manager to leave.
Now onto the insurance rep. After he saw I wasn’t going away he sent me a response which directly contradicted with his original message to me. So, he not only sent me a bogus first message, but when he sent me the second one, he didn’t even bother to read what he first sent me. Why in the world would I trust someone with my insurance needs who doesn’t respond, then when pressed for an answer gives me conflicting answers? Not a chance.
Neither of these individuals considered not only the negative impressions they as people left on me, but also the negative impression I now have of both companies represented. I’ll probably forget both of their names, but I won’t forget either company.
The point here is simple. Do whatever you can to make your first impression positive. If something goes awry (which occasionally it does), own up to it, apologize, and ask for a second chance to make a great impression. Humbly admitting your mistake can work to your advantage and help you get the outcome you desire. Just don’t let your lasting impression be sloppy or shady.
My Scaling Up Lessons Learned
Categories: Career Management, Communications, Followership, Leadership, Project Management
My very first job was baking bagels at age 15 back in Connecticut. When my family moved to Arizona a year later, I bagged groceries and stocked shelves until I graduated high school, then sold clothes while in college. After getting my degree I joined Arthur Andersen & Co. as management information consultant where I worked in Phoenix, Chicago, and Seattle. After 11 years I went to Microsoft where I worked for nine years before leaving to homeschool our son. My professional life now is as an author, publisher, consultant, and disability inclusion advocate. It’s a journey that I never anticipated and am thankful for the great life learnings it afforded me.
Through the years I’ve experienced countless bumps and bruises, made lots of mistakes, and had a few successes along the way. One of my biggest growth areas, though, was in my scaling up as a leader. So much of what I learned came through making my own mistakes versus learning from others. To help you avoid touching the stove (trust me, it’s hot), I compiled a list of some of my most valuable (and painful) learnings. Hope they’re helpful.
Lean in during a crisis
Execute with purpose
Be a great communicator
Behave like you belong in the position
I’d love to know what you think of my learnings or if you’ve got questions. Ping me here!