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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP190: Upward Influence

Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you couldn’t get through to your boss? Upward influence is one of the most impactful things you can do for your career, but most people are never shown how to do it. Whether you are a leader or aspire to be one, learning how to influence upward is one of the most impactful things you can do for your career. Today, I’m going to show you how.

1. Don’t be a time waster!

Be prepared every time you take your leader’s time. If you develop a habit of wasting people’s time, you will find it harder to gain influence and an opportunity to share your ideas. People will always make time for what is important to them, so use their time wisely! Be prepared with not only an outstanding presentation but also good questions.

2. Understand Your Leaders and Their Goals

Learning what is important to your manager and the business will help you show how your actions are relevant to their priorities. Once you know what your boss is focused on, work backward to craft your message and establish a clear link between what you are trying to accomplish and their priorities.

Keep in mind that priorities shift. In one quarter, your manager’s primary goal may be profit. Still, in another quarter, they may be more concerned about customer retention. Consider how your agenda aligns with the current priority and ensure it is clear in your presentation.

3. Lighten your leader’s load.

When leaders win, organizations win. You must be willing to be a team player, even if it creates more work for you. Ask your boss what you can do for them and earn their trust so that they will give you an honest answer. When you gain their confidence, you’ll also access opportunities to learn skills and get mentorship you would not get otherwise.

Application Activities:

  1. Consider areas where you see a need for improvement in your company. Are there any you would be willing to take an active role in overseeing/executing? Take those areas and evaluate how they serve the goals of your organization. Are there any seasonal goals your suggestions would help? Use this information to help determine which area you want to exercise upward influence.

  2. Are there any areas you promised to help but never followed up on? If you want your opinions and promises to be valued, you have to earn the trust of your leader. Think about any areas you may have promised to help but failed to follow through. If it is not too late, take steps to follow through today! Ensure that your work is high quality. By providing superior results and accountability, you will be seen as a reliable employee and have an easier time leading up.

  3. If you’ve developed the reputation of being a time-waster, it’s not too late to create a new brand! Start by having clear and concise comments at group meetings. If you find yourself rambling, try limiting yourself to a sentence or two and going on only if you are asked for more information. When you set up a meeting with your supervisor, ensure you are ready to start at the agreed-upon time. Have a clear presentation and purpose for the meeting. Describe how your suggestion/project aligns with your manager’s/company’s goals. Ask good questions, and be prepared to provide action steps you can take based on the material presented.


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