How To Get Support For Your Great Idea

"One of the best ways to persuade others is by listening to them."

    --Dean Rusk, former U.S. Secretary of State

Getting Attention to Gain Support

Managerial attentiveness is certainly high on the list of employee wants/needs.


But how about when it's time to gain support for your idea or program? Managers at all levels will give you their attention if you understand how to legitimately capture it. Here are four ways to diagnose listener preferences and deliver your message. (It's often helpful to be able to sort and classify).

1. The "Trend-Chaser": Help Them Follow The Fad

These folks pay attention to what others are doing. Perhaps they need to feel like they "belong"; maybe it's just a matter of not thinking too much. Who knows? It doesn't make any difference. You need to provide social proof--testimonials--of what other people think about your ideas.

Use these phrases:

"The benchmarking companies have implemented . . ."

"The top experts in (name the appropriate field) have just written that. . ."

"Statistical trends now show that. . ."

2. The Analytical: Facts and Stats

Even though we know for a fact that people decide based on emotion, these people need to hear supporting evidence. And you'll be questioned on it, so be prepared. They won't go to a fast food outlet without seeing which one has the "best" value meal: $1.00, $.99, or $1.03. Why? One reason is that they want to be confident that they can give a "logical" answer should someone ask them. So, give them the confidence with facts and figures. Quantify everything.

3. I Love A Challenge!: Overcome Obstacles

Routine bores this group. When the sun rises, they're ready to assault a mountaintop. When they hear that something can't be done, it energizes them to prove otherwise. So, tell them:

  • The system doesn't work
  • It's too late too change (or too early)
  • They can't afford to do what will really make a difference

Watch them leap into action when you present your ideas as barriers to be overpowered. 

4. What's the Payoff? Incentives & Rewards

Here's the group that examines the benefits of your idea, both organizational and personal. They want to improve their situation every day. Show them "how to".

  • How to increase profitability
  • How to reduce conflicts
  • How to be more effective at managing
  • How to leapfrog their career

These are Four Biggies that I see regularly. If you have experiences that show another category with descriptions, weigh in with a comment!



How About A Look At Your Conference Call?

Ever wonder what a conference call "looks" like?

Hat tip to Leadercast for this all-too-true (and therefore, hilarious) look at: The Conference Call.



Creative Talents, But What Kind?

Innovation and Creativity permeate the pages of business books and internet storytelling.

Unlike Project Management skills or Financial Analysis, Creative Talents aren't a homogeneous lump of artistic, business-oriented goo. (I haven't the slightest idea where that line came from. It just flowed at the end of the sentence. Must have something to do with my own hidden, artistic goo).

I know from my work with client companies that the cry for "Innovation!" and "Creative Solutions!" is a loud one. I'm not sure that everyone has the same definition or really understands the distinct subsets of Creativity that individuals can offer.

Here is a way to begin to distinguish among Three Unique Creative Talents:


Creating. The inclination to form new associations among previously unrelated concepts, objects, or systems. These folks are continually experimenting with new ideas. You can observe this in any endeavor: office work, administration, sports, teaching, management...and, it doesn't necessarily require much knowledge of previously developed methods.

The gift here: creating something new out of what appeared to be unrelated, existing entities.

Imagining. Very different from creating and truly in the realm of the mind. Those of you with this innate talent will form new associations in your mind as a result of theorizing, philosophizing, daydreaming, and hypothesizing. This can extend to the development of story characters  and other entities that do not yet exist. In other words, the generation of something brand new.

I believe this is what many organizations claim they are looking for but then stop people from  "doing" it because it doesn't look like "work."

Inventing. This is a way to distinguish those whose tend to produce physical creativity from those who live in the world of ideas and concepts. Inventors--for classification purposes-- have a natural talent for developing new technical equipment and physical systems. One way to identify this kind of creative talent is to observe people who "act out" there ideas in tactile ways using substances such as wood, concrete, plastic, glass, etc.

Real-life story About "Creative" Differences

While doing consulting and coaching some years ago with executives at an energy company in Pennsylvania, I received a fascinating request: Would I meet with some of their almost-college-age children and do some "testing" to help the young people better understand their talents?

So, I asked: "Why do you really think that's important?" (Effective consultants, like effective counselors, never roll with the 'presenting' issue:-)

The real pain was not with the off-to-college crowd; it was with the parents. These adults were all highly educated, highly trained engineers who saw the "real world" as a very physical place. They were unbelievably creative in their problem-solving as well. However, the youngsters involved were making noise about majoring in Theater Arts, Fine Arts, and Music. To the executives involved, even if their kid sculpted the next "David," it wouldn't actually do anything.

From this brief description you could no doubt sit down with the parents and explain what was going on. However: these were engineer parents. So, I spent time doing talent assessments and interviews with the young people (thoroughly enjoyable) and then sat down with them and their folks. When the data were presented along with a list of actual talents and related careers--life at home became good again.

These were terrific parents who cared enough to do something about:

a. Changing some of the thinking of their children as a result of good information

b. Changing some of their own thinking as a result of good information

Thought for today: Begin to engineer your thinking about what it means to be creative. Take time to discern your own inclinations and those of your colleagues. When you begin to see that Creativity comes in different, useful forms, you'll start using more of it.Create, Imagine, Invent. . .

Create, Imagine, Invent. . .

Make A Difference With Differences

I've always been bothered by the seemingly well-intentioned books and workshops that fall under some variation of  "Managing Differences".

Have a look at the graphic and we'll continue. You  can click on it for a full-page view.

Deep Enough_Difference

Style vs. Substance


It would be safe to say that most "Differences" activities focus on issues of Style. These are attributes that we all see in each other and which become magnified when we try to work together in groups. It's a good idea to become aware of one's own inherent approach to these things and how others inherently go at them in a totally different way. I heartily endorse and, in my consulting business, practice that kind of understanding.

The Style issues reveal more about how you are. However, they're only the tip of the iceberg and that's not what sank the Titanic.



These are the "Why" questions of life. They tell people who you are and what you believe and value, personally and professionally. It's the level of information needed to get past a surface relationship and into a real one.


Workplace rules and legislation exist to protect people from undue and ill-willed intrusion into some of these areas. At the same time, it's pretty tough to be "engaged" with other people if we don't know what they are really about. Taking time to find out hopes and expectations for teamwork; what each person values in interactions and task-performance; and some previous experiences that have led them to those concerns will go a long way toward deeper relational understanding without playing the "let's spill our guts on the meeting table" gambit. However, you might just find that each time you learn something more of significance about each other, the willingness to have even deeper relationships will increase.

Thank You For Your Service. We are Deporting You.

A number of years ago I accepted a 2-year consulting and training gig in the Middle East. It was suggested that we develop a "Time Management" program for the executives. This raised a flag for me since, culturally, the notion of "managing time" showed up nowhere in daily experiences, personal or professional; and, I don't believe in "Time Management." Time is finite and unchanging; one has to be clear about priorities and manage those.

If you are anywhere close to the training and development industry, you know that certain eras produce "must have" programs whose related buzzwords  go unquestioned. And so it was with Time Management. A program was developed and then advertised in the company curriculum newsletter. Which is when we showed up on the front page of the local newspaper with a headline that I won't fully repeat but which included the word Infidels (actually, a lot of companies would refer to their consultants that way) and other unflattering adjectives which had been attached to us by the Committee for the Preservation of Virtue and The Elimination of Vice.

Cut to the chase: Indeed, the notion of time management went much deeper than the typical "we move a bit more slowly in hot climates" type of thing. According to the Cleric who was the spokesperson, "managing" time was an affront to the god of their faith who was in control of all things related to time.

OK. We got it. No more Time Management. Instead, "Setting Priorities At Work" satisfied both parties' underlying beliefs. And we didn't have to pack up and head to the airport.

It wasn't a matter of Style, it was a matter of very deep Substance.

What needs to happen where you are to float your corporate iceberg a little higher in the water?



Fear: Success or Failure?

Lets be honest:  All of us have doubts that block us from doing things. It's even socially acceptable to talk about some "fear of failure."

But "fear of success?"

Success-FailureIt's just as real. Being afraid to achieve the very things that we want.

How does it happen?

The Future/Change Factor: Personal

The good news is that when we experience this fear, it's because we're imagining a "better" future. We're actually thinking about change.

But we don't know what else that's going to bring. Since it's all about the future, we can imagine anything and everything about what might be. In the absence of factual information we fantasize, often negatively.

  • "I don't deserve it"
  • "If I achieve what I set out to do, everyone will know that I don't really deserve it"
  • "If I get it I won't be able to sustain it. Why try?"
  • "If I am successful, someone will come along who is better than me. Then, what will happen to me?"
  • "If I am successful, the nature and equilibrium of my relationships will change and I'll have to make new friends. My current friends would never accept a more successful (bigger, deeper, better, healthier) me."

(Feel free to list your own and others you've hear in the comments section).

What happens as a result of this kind of thinking?

  • Self-defeating thinking leads to self-defeating actions. Here are just a few:
  • Doing the wrong thing even when you know the right thing to do. That way, one can avoid having to deal with success.
  • Minimizing your accomplishments so they are ultimately negated. Then, you don't have to live up to being all that you really are.
  • Feeling guilty when you have a success. This creates a slowdown in momentum, hesitancy to act, and a self-fulfilling inability to move on to another success.

What you can do differently

Here are some suggestions that aren't complicated but do place the responsibility clearly on our personal shoulders:

1. Act in a way that will genuinely help build a sense of self: Find ways to encourage and acknowledge accomplishments of those around you.

2. Get an accountability partner--or maybe a couple. These people have your explicit permission to give you feedback--positive and negative --about how they are experiencing your progress. This is a reality check. Honest, factual, periodic conversations will help you replace the unknown negative fantasies with reality-based information.

3. When someone compliments you, respond with a firm "Thank you!" No false modesty or additional talk. Simply hear the compliments and let them begin to influence how you see yourself.

In the next post, we'll look at how this plays out at work and in organizational life. 

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Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder
The Steve Roesler Group
Office: 609.654.7376
Mobile: 856.275.4002

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