Maybe the toughest thing in management to do is persuade
others to go along with you when you have no authority over them. I once heard
Jim Collins, the leadership expert and author of Good to Great (Social Sector), analogize this situation as the
equivalent of Lyndon Johnson leading in the Senate.
As Senate Majority Leader in the Fifties, Johnson was able to drive through legislation through the power of his persuasion. He was a good
talker, but he was also a great listener. And as Johnson’s biographers Robert Dallek and Robert Caro point out, Johnson was able to read others. That
is, he got to know what makes them tick and what was close to their hearts.
This way he could pitch his legislation toward what appealed to their
We as leaders in the corporate sector must do the very same.
Say you are challenged to implement an initiative across multiple functions.
What will you do?
One, do your
homework. Find out what your colleagues in different functions think about
the initiative. Likely they will oppose it for any number of reasons that we
can label the “don’ts.” As in “Don’t like it. Don’t want to change. Don’t want
Two, make your case.
Demonstrate how the initiative will make things better in the long run.
Acknowledge short term pain for longer-term gain. Argue the business case.
listen, listen. Pay attention to
what your colleagues are telling you. Let them digest the change but listen to
how you can adjust the initiative to meet their specific requirements.
Four, push hard.
If this initiative is important and if senior management is counting on you to
drive it through, and then keep on it.
Five, be there to
follow up. This is critical. Make it known up front that you will be
available to help implement the initiative. You, or your team, will help the
team get the new initiative up and running.
Driving things across the enterprise is never easy, but you
can do it if you are willing to listen, learn and act on what you know.
Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership development consultant,
executive coach, author, and speaker. In 2010 Top Leadership Gurus named John
one of the world’s top 25 leadership experts. John’s new book is Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up (Amacom 2009). Readers are welcome to visit John’s