Influencing Sideways For A Win-Win
Updated: Aug 25
When functional heads try to execute anything, they often find that many other functional heads are also involved in the equation. Since each one comes with many years of expertise in their domain, they often tend to have strong opinions on various subjects. A very ambitious project may also be too expensive. A company’s dream project may be an operational nightmare. What next?
Trouble often begins because everyone is right in their particular sphere of influence. If you want to become a leader in your organization, you need to know how to influence these colleagues so everyone agrees to the same thing. In the third and final article for this month, we talk about the subtle, often tricky art of influencing sideways. In our next month’s series, you will find information on building your personal influence as well as personal branding.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when influencing your peers:
Throw the fluff out: Functional heads have seen quite a few glossy presentations in their lives and would appreciate a simple conversation with numbers if they could get that. Often, it is best to deliver the message straight. Set up a meeting at a time convenient to both of you and get to the details as soon as possible.
Be assertive: There’s a good reason why you’ve come to a certain conclusion over another. But your point forth clearly and with enough muscle behind it. Be open to discussions, suggestions and disagreements but never lose track of where you started. If you think your idea has merit beyond these limitations, don’t hesitate to say so.
Don’t make it an ego tussle: We are often caught unawares by when a discussion has moved away from professional territory and become personal. Once it crosses that bridge, the time for advocacy is gone. If you find that a discussion is becoming a matter of personal opinions, politely cut it short and offer to meet again at a later date. Most senior executives are also aware of their own selves, so at some point soon, they will realize where they were wrong.
It is a win-win: Hard as it is to believe that, especially when a discussion is heading south, finding success and synergy with the peers is an excellent way to succeed and sustain in a role. People want employees to get along in an organization, and remember that everyone is only expressing concern for the organization itself.
Educate yourself: Before you head into any discussion with a functional lead, be sure to make yourself aware of the current challenges and opportunities in their field within the organization. By doing so, you will be able to empathise with the other person’s viewpoint and will likely find solutions that benefit both of your interests.
Put your strengths together: The adage ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ stands very true when influencing your peers. Identify each person’s area of strength and interest and find a way to accommodate them into the solution statement likewise. People like to know what exactly they’re expected to do, and one way to succeed is to tell them.
What struggles have you faced while trying to influence sideways? Share your thoughts with us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.