10 Tips for Effectively Influencing Decision-Makers

GCG Leadership Development Team

Most companies train their executives and managers in one form or another on how to lead employees. But, leaders seldom learn how to effectively influence up or across their organization. If you want to successfully convert your ideas into actions, however, you need to know how to convince decision-makers in upper management as well as peers.

Here are 10 tips for developing this crucial leadership skill:

1. Every decision will be made by the person who has the power to make it.

The first step to becoming more effective in influencing others is accepting the fact that you are not always the decision-maker.

2. It is your responsibility to sell, not the decision-maker’s obligation to buy.

Instead of blaming upper management for not buying ideas, focus your energy on developing your ability to present ideas effectively.

3. Focus on the larger needs of the organization.

Effective influencers always demonstrate how their suggestions positively impact their organization as a whole. You can’t assume that decision-makers will automatically make this connection.

4. Strive to win the big battles without wasting energy on trivial points.

High-achieving individuals tend to feel the urge to want to win every argument. This can be counterproductive when time is wasted on issues with negligible impact. The key is prioritizing problems that will make a real difference. 

5. A realistic cost-benefit analysis should be a part of every idea.

With limited resources available in every organization, you should prepare for a realistic discussion around the costs of your proposal. Ideally, you anticipate and address possible objections before they occur.

6. Upper management decision-makers make mistakes, too.

Even the most experienced executives are normal human beings who may be wrong from time to time. Instead of judging them, offer your support.

7. Decision-makers deserve respect and courtesy.

While it is crucial to challenge up, it should be done constructively. Destructive comments and backstabbing are counterproductive behaviors that undermine relationships and trust.

8. Supporting the final decision demonstrates integrity and commitment.

The best leaders stand behind the final decision of their organization, even if it is not their preferred one, and try to make it work.

9. The ultimate goal is to make a positive difference.

When you shift your focus towards how you can make things better instead of dwelling on what others are doing wrong, you will ultimately move your organization in the right direction.

10. A future focus helps to let go of the past.

Complaining about past mistakes is a behavior to avoid. Successful leaders learn from the past, but always think forward. They concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow.

When leaders invest even a small amount of time in learning how to influence decision-makers, they can have a bigger, more positive impact in their organization. And along with it, being seen and recognized as a more effective leader. Leadership coaching can help you get there. 

The time invested in honing these important skills for influencing decision-makers, along with a range of other essential skills, is the hallmark of every great leader. 

At GCG, we provide expert coaching for leaders at all levels of leadership in organizations of all shapes and sizes. Through democratizing coaching for all, we help everyone from high potentials on through to CEOs. Click here to learn more about our coaching services for professionals or if you’re interested in our coaching services for your organization, visit this page.


Adapted from an article related to the 10th Global Peter Drucker Forum, with the theme “management – the human dimension”.  

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