Playing Your ACE in a Stacked Deck

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you break down inherent barriers to your ideas.

          The idea was sound. The hard-working, highly competent manager checked his facts. He had the documentation. He presented his idea clearly and concisely. No one could refute the thinking process or the expected results.

         The idea worked elsewhere. It could work here. It should work here. It will work here, he assured anyone and everyone.  Yet most of the decision-makers in the company he needed to persuade remained poker faced even though they saw that indeed the company could benefit from his idea.

        But his idea never got off the ground, even though he had done the proper research, even though he  had earned third-party endorsement from his peers outside the company.   What happened? Why didn’t his idea fly?

       Perhaps this highly competent manager forgot to EARN THE RIGHT to present a new idea beyond his credentials, expertise and education. I have been in the shoes of this highly competent manager.   I learned the hard way that when no one is buying your well researched, well thought-out idea, when the deck seemed stacked against you, the most persuasive leaders play their ACE.

       ACE–Acknowledge, Coordinate and Enhance — is a three-step persuasion process. based primarily on that bromide: no one cares what you know until they know how much you care.       When I played my ACE first, I found top management more willing to learn more about my idea and more willing to give me the green light. Here’s how you can play your ACE:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE the expertise around you. Focus on the positives of tradition. Credit the success of the organization in the past
  • COORDINATE the ongoing changing conditions with the expertise and the tradition of the organization. Show how the organization adapted and adjusted to changes in the past. Link your idea as a continuation of this tradition.
  • ENHANCE the company’s strengths. Illustrate how the change will help the company grow and help the individual employees continue the tradition of serving the customer.

 Compatibility, Credibility and Capability

         I’ve learned that persuading others requires the 3C’s of compatibility, capability and credibility.  And the most important of these is Compatibility. Gain trust. Without it, nothing changes, no matter how many facts you have on your side, no matter how clear your reasoning, no matter how documented your evidence.

        First  establish your compatibility with executive decision-makers regarding the company’s values, mission and vision. Then cement your credibility. Seek mutual allies to link your new idea to a proven principle recognized for many years within the company. Then and only  then unsheathe your capability.  Follow this 3-step process:

  1. Present your new idea as a reaffirmation of the company’s mission and vision.   First EARN THE RIGHT to be right.  Focus more on the concept of reinforcing corporate values.
  2. Then establish your idea in the context of challenges facing the company.
  3. Then and only then after that concept and context is well planted,  use your content to demonstrate to the executive decision makers why they are doing the right thing for the company in approving your idea.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Seek compatibility first in persuading others to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Persuasion:
Flash your Lt. Columbo Badge of Confusion

Speaking Without Words

From Plato to Play-Doh

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