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How To Get Your Boss To Say ‘Yes’

How To Get Your Boss To Say ‘Yes’

If you really want something, put your heart into it, writes Dr. Tommy Weir, advisor on emerging market leadership.

I regularly hear top teams complain about not getting what they want from their headquarters. This may be in the form of funding for a capital expenditure, supportive budgets or achievable targets. Each time I hear this, I wonder, “Why are they not getting what they want?”

The reference to headquarters is not necessarily just for multi- nationals. The examples that I am aware of are mostly from regionally based businesses. So whether you are a country CEO/MD for a global multi-national, a divisional GM of a local firm, or the team leader in any organisation, this struggle holds true.

How do you get what you want?

If you want your budget approved, your plan supported, or any other action signed off by headquarters, here is the secret – treat them like an investment partner. In other words, talk to them like you would if you were an entrepreneur gaining the support of a private equity partner or a venture capital firm.

What would this look like?

The very first thing they are going to want to see is a viable plan for major growth; they are not interested in incremental growth. Does your plan show the potential for strong growth?

Your idea prospectus should answer: What do you want to do? What is the current situation? What are your assumptions? Why do you think your business plan is going to deliver? It is paramount to understand what the business is concerned about, as aligned ideas have a greater chance of getting support.

The plan needs to articulate the fundamentals and assumptions. Are these clear in your plan?

When questioned about your ideas, are you able to defend even the most minute details? If not, you are putting your plan and hopes at risk. When gaining internal support, this is the first “tripping point” many leaders face as they have a plan but do not understand or are unable to defend the assumptions and fundamentals.

The next area of focus for getting your idea supported is related to how you communicate it. Just like private equity solicitation, email is not the way to win people over to your side. According to one fund manager, out of the last 600 odd proposals they received by email, only two were selected for further processing. Ideas are best sold face-to-face.

The dealmaker or breaker is the amount of “heart” that is in the plan. Investors and corporate supporters are looking for leaders who are absolutely convinced by the idea and willing to put their career on the line for it. Are you standing confidently by your plan?

From my observation, “heart” is what is gravely missing. It is very disturbing to hear leaders talk about ideas with interest, blame the headquarters for a lack of support and sit idly.

This past year, I sat with a team of 20 leaders from a prominent organisation and listened as they blamed headquarters for their lack of performance insisting the targets were too aggressive. Perhaps they were, but this team took no action.

It left me wondering, “How much do these leaders (or teams) really want what they are asking for?” You can’t keep blaming somebody else for your dysfunction.

In the same organisation, another leader walked into the CEO’s office for the 2012 annual budget debate and got all he wanted. How? He had a plan with good fundamentals, showed how an earlier capital investment would allow them to achieve the aggressive targets being set, demonstrated “heart” and received the budget and funding he wanted.

Keep in mind that once the deal is made, it is time to deliver. And the delivery record is the catalyst for future support (investment).

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