Why Senior Managers aren’t buying into your idea

Rahul was in Quality Assurance in his bank but promoted to Head of Delivery two years later.

In this new role, he needed to persuade Senior Leaders to change strategy. They’d brush aside his presentations and ignore his proposals.

Jasmine, the new Head of Business Development, mentions this SAME strategy in a Board Meeting and the lot of them pounce on it like guinea pigs on a bed of lettuce. She could have delivered it in Morse Code and they’d still have been dead keen.

So what the devil did Rahul not do, that Jasmine did?

The Board still can’t help seeing Rahul as ‘the Q.A. guy that got a promotion’.

Not Rahul’s fault but it’s now on him to change that perception.


Here are 7 ways to get buy in with Senior Leaders when you feel dismissed or ignored.

1. You’ve not built up trust beforehand: this is where reciprocity – give and take – is useful and you don’t need to take out a bank loan to do it. In fact, stick to free such as recommendations and they don’t even have to be work related. Got the name of a good restaurant or book? That’ll do.

2. There’s a gap between what you know and what they think: show and tell.  You need to show them what’ s possible. That’s where either Storytelling comes in useful or taking them to client sites.

3. Same old place and conversation: change the environment. You feel one way if you’ve a meeting with your boss in the boardroom but meet her in a restaurant and it’s different. We associate certain types of interactions with places so take it somewhere else.

4. You’re giving too much detail: make it easy and stop going into the process. They’re more interested in what you do than how you’ll do it. Begin with why, remembering Senior Managers get eye dilation when you mention more money or being better than the competition.

5. You’re not clear: Middle management are often swimming in Business Bullshit Bingo. Senior management are out of that verbal maze so drop the jargon. Speak plain English – see this LinkedIn post here.

6. They see you in your old role and can’t associate you with your new one: drop in some high level experience you’ve had, little-known stats and facts or refer to what the competitor is doing strategically.  They get itchy about competitors so it stirs them up to know what the other side is doing.

7. You’ve not done the pre-work: you need to speak to individuals to sound them out before you influence. Find out objections. They may also voice benefits you didn’t even know about. Moreover, they can work other directors so you don’t have to.


Your Action:

1. Remember influence starts before you need people. Start to build connection now.

2. Start 121s with leaders if possible: a chat to find out what’s going on. Focus on building the relationship. Give them credit when it’s due (not financial credit, I mean acknowledgement.) Discover their concerns.

3. Record some of your higher level accomplishments. When you talk of a situation, use those as illustrations of your experience.

4. Use plain English in your communication: instead of “we’re optimising our system to support market superiority”, you could rephrase to something less opaque such as “we’re installing a system that’ll best out the competition” – if that is what you mean. It’s such an opaque statement, it’s open to interpretation….



Having problems getting your ideas heard with colleagues, clients or leaders?  I’ll help you get your voice heard.  Click for a free 15 minute Discovery Call here.

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