What to Consider When Influencing Your Manager

You are at your desk at work and a brilliant idea comes to you. You jump up, tell your manager the idea, and he or she shoots it down without a second thought. You go back to your desk feeling upset, frustrated, and powerless. You have given up.

Influence Your Boss

What can you do to remedy this scenario? Use your influence!

Below are three suggestions to consider before trying to influence your manager:

Remember, influence is related to power. Power is a set of resources you can draw on in order to influence another person. In this scenario, you were trying to get your manager to take action on your idea. Your manager may have many different kinds of power, including role power and the power to give or withhold resources. Think about what your own power resources are. Are you an innovator with a track record of successful product launches? Are you an opinion leader among your peers? Are you someone who might be valuable to other competing organizations inside or outside your company? Understanding your own power sources will give you confidence and allow you to influence more effectively.


Influence works in two directions. When exercising your influence toward someone, you must be willing to be influenced by that person as well.  So, be open to your manager’s ideas. Ask your manager how your idea could be improved or made more relevant to your team’s business goals.


Planning can help you be more successful as an influencer. Before you jump up to tell your manager about your idea, think about what your influence goal would be. What action do you want him or her to take? Then think about whether your influence relationship with him or her is in good shape or whether you need to develop or improve it. Then consider what’s important to your manager – his or her goals, decision criteria, preferences. Shape your idea so that it’s a good fit; make it easier for him or her to say yes to you. Think about how you will balance presenting your idea with asking him or her for feedback.

For more information on influence, click here to read the first chapter of Exercising Influence: 
A Guide For Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community, Revised Edition.


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