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The Secret to Influencing Corporate Change Revealed

Foxx Discusses Local Economic Issues with NC Business by Virginia Foxx

 

Many of my clients over the past ten years have either developed thought leaders for their organization, leveraged thought leaders, or have been thought leaders themselves.

It seems like common sense that if change in an organization is going to be adopted, it needs to happen from the top down, but my clients have been able to manage upward. Executive leaders have to be able to recognize a problem and the pain that it’s causing to have any desire for change.

When you cannot bring the executive leader to the problem, like in Undercover Boss, sometimes you have to bring the problem to the executive leader, but how you do you do that? Through storytelling. Who does it? A person with influence.

I’m referring to authentic influence. I’m not talking about leaders who are talking heads and attempt to assert their influence using authoritarianism. People with authentic influence, who I refer to as influence leaders, earn trust and loyalty by listening first and foremost. This is also referred to as caring.

At first you may think that they are inaccessible because they seem like Mr. or Mrs. Important, but they genuinely want to be of service. They also want to invest their time improving situations that impact the most people or cause the most pain, so if you want them to give you their ear, be a curator and deliverer of people’s pain stories.

It does not always work. Unfortunately, sometimes executive leadership is more influenced by ego. That is usually how these thought leaders, and the developers of thought leaders found their way to me. They were usually hired because there was an intention and planned initiative for change, but they found interference coming from the top and felt stifled. They are driven by their desire to realize change and they lose their motivation quickly if unnecessary obstacles are created at the top. An influence leader can only inspire change if they are inspired.

In order to retain these valuable people for your organization, executive leaders have to be open and receptive, and to be willing to stand up for change and go to bat for their people.

Otherwise, I will help them find and be found by organizations with leaders who will stand up for change, and that organization will benefit from their influence.

 

Whether you are the thought leader, you develop thought leaders, or you leverage the thought leaders, you are an influence leader. Only work for an organization that demonstrates its willingness to be influenced. If that does not apply to where you are at, let’s have a consultation. It is highly important to me that you, who have such potential to make things better for others, are in a position that enables you to embrace and use your power. That is the influence that I am driven to have.

 

Can this strange campaign advice land you work?

I had the privilege of driving a few local dignitaries in my dad’s antique Dodge convertible for our township’s 300th anniversary parade.

Pet's Day Out by Mosmon Council on Flickr

Pet’s Day Out by Mosmon Council on Flickr

One of those dignitaries happened to be one of my best friend’s fathers, Bob, a former School Board President. He and the two other distinguished gentleman who rode with me had proclaimed to be retired from campaigns and leadership positions. As we went 3 miles at 2 miles per hour, we had a lot of time to come up with pithy conversation to fill the awkward silence, so I took this campaign advice with a grain of salt; it was probably more for conversation’s sake, but it really made me think.

Bob said, after passing out compliments to many of the parade-watchers on their dogs, that the best way to ensure that a campaign is “in the bag” is to find out the constituents pets’ names and add their names to mailings.

Huh.

I know that from my education in journalism and my experience as an executive sourcer, personal information is not that hard to find, if you know where to look. I do this for my clients when I write their cover letters and I teach clients how to do that through my webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media: 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired.  But I didn’t consider pets as a way to a decision-maker’s heart. Could he be right?

There was an episode of Modern Family in which the patriarch, Phil Dunphy, went to extremes to help a potential home buyer envision himself in the home. In the end, it was very creepy, and I think you risk that if you take it too far.

What is too far, though?

If you know a decision-maker owns a dog, and you can find a picture of said decision-maker and her dog (say through Google images), would it be too much if you commissioned an artist to paint said dog and owner as a gift?

Probably, in most cases. You would probably want to dig as deep as possible to determine how an individual feels about their privacy versus their pet pride, perhaps even by inquiring within a contact’s personal network.

The example that I use may seem a little over-the-top. Gestures like this can backfire, or they can have residual paybacks for years to come. If such a gesture would be appreciated, that decision-maker would probably show off that painting to all of her close friends and family. It might also get that artist additional work.

In employment climates like this, creativity can take you very far, especially if that is what you think buyers or employers need most.

 

Can you think of any other epic examples that stand produce epic results?

 

Are you promoting yourself as creative, but not using creativity to reach your audience?