How you manage your manager

How to best influence those above you

Apart from using your influencing skills to motivate and inspire, it’s as vital to influence those up to a few levels up in your organisation. We’ll show you how best to do that.

Studies show that, chances of success increase when your request goes to those four or five ranks ahead in your company’s pyramid.

With that in mind, it’s important to know what’s important to your managers. Is cost more important? Innovation? Brand? What keeps them awake at night? Once you identify what really matters, present yourself as the solutions to their issues.

Always prepare in advance, put emphasis on their perspective, under promise, and over-deliver.

Bespoke details

Communicate in a way that fits with their style. Try to find out if they like the details or prefer a brief synopsis.

What structure do meetings take, are they long? How is the reporting structured? Do they prefer oral or written? Once you are familiar with how they prefer information, you can present your ideas in a style that is more likely to be warmly received.

The six principles of persuasion

Whether you work in a conventional company or one more team based, influence should be sustainable, effective and ethical.


When you have given someone something first, they are much more likely to answer positively to a successive request.

While it may seem manipulative, this is how life works. Use opportunities to give generously of your time or expertise in ways that are not expected and that come naturally, and, in time, this generosity is bound to be remembered and reciprocated. Give and take is a universal principle that people behave by.


It is obvious that scarcity increases desirability. The fear of loss is a powerful motivator. When Concorde announced the winding up of their New York to London route, mostly empty planes suddenly filled to capacity. Likewise, the De Beer cartel keeps diamond prices artificially high by controlling the diamond mines worldwide and keeping a throttle on their release into the market, thus keeping prices higher.

In work, highlight your exceptionality. Apart from the bonus of having you work there, highlight subtly the impact your absence would have. Better yet, take a two-week holiday and don’t take your phone or email.


Credible experts have always wielded influence. It turns out, though, the messenger is what is persuasive, more than their messages. When evidence of expertise is offered before a required action, like a doctor’s qualification being viewed, before writing a prescription, compliance increases.

An audience will be more attentive when they know how qualified the speaker is. Try not to self-promote as much as possible, this is vulgar. It is more effective to allow others to fill this role. This could be a simple one-liner on past victories or experiences expressed by a team member to those you would like to influence.


This principle is more useful in influencing team members or those you manage. It’s been proven that when commitments are written, especially by themselves, peoples’ delivery on actions is greater.


In a survey, Merger and Acquisition negotiation times reduced from 9 months to 6 months, saving a fortune, when the Chief Executive promptly arrived for meetings and looked for personal connections.

Social proof

Traits that are observed tends to increase those traits. Emphasising constructive acts will help to attract others the same way.

Provide evidence of what large numbers of people are doing that’s clearly productive. This is more effective among a relevant group. This is useful to bring into presentations when you want to sway higher management favourably.

#influence #leadership #management #persuasion

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