Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. I am Steve Nathenson, CEO, and founder of Strive for More. And I want to talk a little bit more about leadership today. And you’ll notice a theme the start of our podcast season this year in 2022 is really focusing around leadership and common questions that I do get from the leaders that I work with. And one of those is how do I influence my leadership? In other words, how do we manage [inaudible 00:00:28]? Another common term. So part of the question can seem difficult. It depends on the leaders that we are working for. And that’s fundamentally, the first part of the answer is we have to know who are we working for?

What kind of leader are they? Are they someone who are open… is open, excuse me, to hearing what other people have to say. Do they value the opinions of others? Do they share information readily? Do they not? Do they create silos? Are they transactional, transformational, inspirational? Do you think that they’re being authentic? Do they help get hurdles out of your way? We’ve talked about a lot of different leadership styles and theories already this season. So we can pick from those to see who is our leader, what styles do they engage with? Does it work for me?

A lot of times, honestly, this question actually comes out when we’re working for a leader who we do not necessarily enjoy working with, who we don’t resonate with or other common question… excuse me, scenario that the question comes out in is not really sure when to speak up. Maybe we are leaders for the first time or kind of getting into a new role and feeling things out. And we’re not quite sure yet how that it’s all going to pan out. That’s another scenario that this question typically comes out in.

So I want to give [inaudible 00:02:20] to those before we dive, because it can be very hard to work for somebody who doesn’t share communication, who is very transactional, who just barks orders, is siloed, “Just do your job. It doesn’t matter what you say or what you think. I’m not going to listen to you.” Those are legitimately hard things to do. So it is fundamentally getting down to who are we being led by? We have to know who they are. How do they operate? What makes them tick? Because by doing that, even in this scenario that we’re talking about, where they’re really closed off, they don’t communicate, they just essentially are more transactional, we start to understand what ways we can and to what extent we can leverage and influence them. But it comes down to reading them, to knowing who they are.

In addition to that, one thing that’s universally true in sales that’s applicable here is we have to know what’s in it for our customers. What’s going to make them buy from us. What value are they getting from it? Is it pure enjoyment? Is it something that they need? Why do we buy Apple Watches, or iPhones, or iPods, when we used to buy iPods? We got something out of it. There’s an importance there for me, for us. I have a Garmin watch because I do triathlons and that works best for me versus, say, Apple Watch or Fitbit. It’s what really resonates with me and gives me what I need out of it, the statistics, the tracking, the ability to swim with it, the ability to last through an [inaudible 00:04:07], those are all things that I weighed in my decision on what to buy. There was value in there for me.

It’s no different when we look at our leaders and the people who are leading. What’s in it for them? When we know what they value, we know what they’re trying to achieve, then it makes it easier to speak to that and to start influencing them because we know what they care about. And in the business world, another important element is the business case. We hear that a lot. What’s the use case? What’s the business case for this? Why would we shift, say, software? Why would we build out a new facility? What is it that’s in it for us and that’s going to drive the business to where it wants to go? It’s no different when we talk about leaders. Fundamentally, who are they? What kind of leader are they?

What’s in it for them? What do they value? What are they trying to achieve in the business? And how do we speak to that? Those two critical elements, who they are and what they value, will help us pick our tactic and our approach to best influence them. Let’s give a real world example. Let’s say we are trying to develop a new branch in our business. And perhaps our leader has the ability to really lead and inspire other people. You know, they’re really good at that, but maybe they’ve never, say, built a mobile application from the ground up. Maybe they don’t know what it takes. They may think this is the right way, they may have explored some options. But perhaps us who’s directly under them, maybe we’ve had stuff like that under our belt. We’ve built 5 or 10 of them, let’s say, and we have that experience.

So we may know what’s really worked, what hasn’t worked, mistakes to avoid that are maybe common mistakes right from the beginning and we can shorten that cycle. To have the conversation with our boss we need to understand what’s the best approach. Are they somebody who values very direct and bluntness of, “Hey, this is the wrong direction. Here’s why. Let’s go this way.”

That may work very well for them. It may not be. It may be more of that kind of questioning and planting within them, a thought that will allow them to reach their own conclusion and walking them through it. So we have a softer, more questioning approach that we take.

What we’re doing is we’re leveraging our knowledge of who they are, what resonates with them and what’s going to ultimately be where we collectively want to go. What’s going to be in it for them? They obviously want it to be successful. Let’s assume, in this example. They want that success. They want to build out this mobile application platform, but there may legitimately be hurdles that perhaps they’re not aware of because what they don’t know they don’t know. And that’s okay. We can influence them into that right direction and help them see that. So by knowing who they are, it can gauge, do we go direct? Do we go soft? Do we need data and research to share with them? Do we need to help them see their own conclusion and think about things and plant that seed and let them mull it over. That’s going to be dictated by our past experiences with them and what we know resonates with them the most that sets us up for success and how we plant that seed and share that information with them.

And ultimately, it’s not something that we’re saying, “Hey, we have to do this because you’re wrong and we’re right.” People don’t like to be told that they’re wrong. How often does that really go over well for you when you’ve done that in the past? When we focus instead on what we collectively want to achieve, what’s in it for them is building out this successful mobile application that drives the business results that we’re all looking for and we want to be a part of, because it keeps us in business and it gives us our paycheck.

It’s much more powerful because it’s towards a common, collective goal versus them, versus you, if that makes sense. Instead of me versus them and saying, “You’re wrong, I’m right.” We’re focusing on achieving a collective outcome that we both desire and helping collaboratively to get there. So we’re not putting one person against the other. We’re presenting it in a way that’s going to help drive the business to where they want it to go. These are some of the key factors to know and how to influence people in general, not just our leadership.

One other common thing that does come out with this in terms of influence is really knowing what’s within our scope and can we accept that? It can be very hard to live in uncertainty and not knowing truly where our scope lies. We may think that this is a big scope that we have. But in reality, maybe we’ve got this smaller scope that we’ve been given. We may be capable more, we may have done more, and that may drive us to want to go different routes, in different ways. But a part of our own question has to be, what truly is being asked of me and can I accept that?

Because once I accept that, there’s something psychologically that happens. It stops the fight within me, and it stops the fight against our leader. And I don’t mean this like we have to absolutely just fall in line and be a good subordinate and that’s the way it’s got to be. What I mean by this is, I may have done much more than what I’m being asked to do now. So I may feel compelled to share information and want to drive and do so much more. And I may feel like I’m fighting against myself because perhaps I’ve taken a step back.

Perhaps this is something that I feel maybe is beneath me even. Those are some common thoughts that could come out. But when I really take that step back and I say, “Well, here’s the position that I’m in. Here’s what’s being asked of me. Yes, I am capable of more, but let me focus on what it is that I have to do, versus what I can do. And I accept that this is what I am responsible for.”

It’s going to shift us psychologically because when we present and try to influence our leadership, it’s not going to come from a place where we have to get things done because we’ve done it before and it’s the right way to do it and it’s what I need to be or should be doing. It’s a little bit of an extra… It’s going the extra mile beyond, and it’s going to shift the tone in which we present it.

I bring this out because with a lot of leaders that I have worked with who are incredibly capable and incredibly smart and intelligent, there is a lot that they are capable of doing. And when their scope is unclear or undefined, it can be that struggle, because they want to do more. They want to do it all. But when we take that step back and we look at, well, what can we realistically achieve? What are we truly being asked to do if I focus on that and I do a really good job at that, that’s also going to give me a greater leg to stand on? When I do have conversations with my management, my leadership, to be able to drive the direction in which they go and to influence them because we have that proven track record. We’re not constantly fighting and saying, “Hey, we should be doing this.” Or, “We should be doing that. This is wrong. Why aren’t we doing this?”

Those types of conversations plant the seeds of doubt. They create arguments. They create aggression and they create an atmosphere where someone may not be willing to give us credence anymore and to listen to us. So by really accepting what it is that we are being asked to do, and we are responsible for and shifting the psychology behind it, we not only are going to make ourselves happier and greater fulfillment is going to come of it, but we’re also going to set ourselves up for greater success in influencing our leadership because we’re not just fighting them at every step of the way. We’re doing what we’re being asked to do and then we’re stepping beyond and going that extra mile and trying to take us to a greater place. It all comes down to the way we present it. And the way we’re thinking about it. Because if we’re always fighting against ourselves, that’s going to come across to others.

So I just share that as one other fundamental thing we can do as human beings and as leaders to influence our leaders, by setting ourselves up naturally for success in presenting our best selves forward and creating an environment and an atmosphere that is easier for us to influence others. So I hope you enjoy today. I hope you got something out of how do we influence others? The three key things that I’ll just recap very briefly that we did talk about was knowing who your leaders are, knowing what’s in it for them in the business case that we can tie things to and then taking that self reflective introspective look at ourselves to see, “Am I creating that environment of constant struggle and fight? Or can I accept where I am, embrace that and shift the psychology around it to go that extra mile that’s also going to flip the atmosphere and the environment in which I engage with my leader that’ll naturally set us up for greater success and influencing [inaudible 00:14:51]?” So until the next time, be the movement in your life.


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