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Effectively Influencing Decision Makers

Top tips from Marshall Goldsmith


  • Every decision that affects our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision, not the “right” person or the “smartest” person or the “best” person. Make peace with this fact
  • When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realise that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy
  • Focus on contribution to the larger good—not just the achievement of your objectives.
  • Strive to win the big battles. Don’t waste your energy and psychological capital on trivial point
  • Present a realistic “cost-benefit” analysis of your ideas—don’t just sell benefits. Every organization has limited resources, time, and energy
  • Challenge up on issues involving ethics or integrity—never remain silent on ethics violations.
  • Realise that powerful people are just as human as you are. Don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level…It is realistic to expect decision-makers to be competent; it is unrealistic to expect them to be anything other than normal humans.
  • Treat decision-makers with the same courtesy that you would treat customers—don’t be disrespectful. While it is important to avoid kissing up to decision-makers, it is just as important to avoid the opposite reaction
  • Support the final decision of the organization. Don’t tell direct reports, “They made me tell you.” Assuming that the final decision of the organization is not immoral, illegal, or unethical, go out and try to make it work. Managers who consistently say, “They told me to tell you” to co-workers are seen as messengers, not leaders. Even worse, don’t say, “Those fools told me to tell you…” By demonstrating our lack of commitment to the final decision, we may sabotage the chances for effective execution