Problem-Solving to Build Influence

You’re doing a bang-up job.

Considered a reliable leader. Well-regarded by clients. Making a solid contribution to the bottom line.

Still, you’d like to throw a spotlight on other talents. Build a platform for good corporate citizenship. Elevate yourself in the eyes of company influencers. Be an influencer.

You’ll need an extra-credit assignment. One that can show-off your problem-solving skills. Bring transparency to where your passion lies.

Don’t wait around to be anointed.

Choose your weapon. Steer away from Holy Grail issues like employee engagement. Tipping points. Boomers v. Millennials. This is about tackling a stubborn problem hiding in plain sight. One consistently pushed inside of the cost of doing business bucket.

Something vexing but solvable.

The Problem-Solving Pitch

Authenticity will be a strong suit when you pitch the idea to your manager. You’ll need to have tripped over the issue yourself. And can story-tell the energy, time and dollars it took for the workaround.

Prep well. Make sure your finger is directly on the corporate pulse by informal consensus-building with colleagues.

Set up a presentation time. Include teaser expectations. Avoid a pre-emptive spill to your manager during a cramped Uber ride to your next appointment. Unspool your ideas the way you’d present to your best client.

Be sure to reference these three prime directives. They’re deal-makers.

  • The resonance between the solution and the company’s deeply held beliefs.
  • The positive impact on the bottom-line.
  • The timeliness and viability of acting now.

Then step back.

Use deep listening skills. Problem-solving is not a solo sport. Expect the unexpected. Your manager may tweak the idea. Express doubt. Suggest an alternate approach.

Don’t take the feedback as rejection. The perspective of someone closer to the C-Suite than you is worth its weight in gold.

If the Response is Thumbs Down

Ask questions. Lots of them. Best-case scenario, you’ll uncover the potholes in the plan. Points you might not have considered well enough.

Don’t lose faith just yet. Stay committed. Draw out appropriate options.

  • Suggest the possibility of getting feedback from other stakeholders.
  • Request formal introductions to influencers who might provide a wider perspective.
  • Secure commitment for a second meeting once additional information has been collected.

Still in negative territory?

You’ll need to make some decisions if you want to journey-on without an endorsement. Keep in mind, an end-run around your manager is not one of them.

Have a frank talk with yourself. A mountain does not need to be climbed just because it’s there. You’ve already advanced your cause by demonstrating thought-leadership. Take it as a win. Moving on does not equal a retreat.

Finish big. Claim extra points for a graceful dismount.

  • Show gratitude for the positive attention to your request.
  • Ask to be considered for participation in future special projects.
  • Suggest a follow-up conversation at your next performance evaluation.

The road to recognition is not a straight line. Stay alert to problem-solving opportunities. But be circumspect about your choices.

Don’t become a rebel without a pause.


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