Because I Said So, Or Because I Know So? What Kind of Influence Makes an Impact?

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“Because I said so.” What parent hasn’t uttered those words. I think all of us try to rationalize with our children, but eventually the discussions end in “Because I said so”. In the early stages of raising children I’ve found that you parent with authority. It’s very much an “I’m the Mom so do what I say” methodology. Not having teens, but having once been one, I think there eventually comes a time when the “Because I said so” approach is no longer persuasive. You’re dealing with more “experienced” kids who need a reason for falling in line. That is certainly a challenge.

Yesterday I heard from an old Army buddy of mine. He sent me the following message.

“I’ve recently (last year or so) transitioned from Infantry to the Army Acquisition Corps. While I loved the Infantry, I wanted a new challenge. So, I switched to acquisitions. I now work with Industry to get better kits to the war fighter.

In this job, I deal with Big Army and all the wonkiness that entails. I also deal with a lot of civilians, which is slightly different than the operational force. While an operational guy might have 150+ guys he can command, now I’ve got one GS 13 and a lot of contractors, all of which are mildly interested in doing much beyond what’s in their contract statement. So, the days of saying “Do this cause i say so” are well beyond me. Now it’s all about playing nice, building networks, and generally convincing folks to do things cause it’s the best for the organization rather than just what’s best for them.

So, it’s the transition from the A+ personality environment (where folks can lower their heads and force their way to success by sheer force) to the B+ environment (sometimes a force technique is required but usually it’s about making friends, since the chain of command / influence is much harder to define).

Anywho, I find leadership, and the various techniques out there, very interesting, so I’d be curious as to your thoughts of the transition from an uber-A environment to one that require a somewhat more subtle touch.”

Here was my response.

“What you outline above is incredibly common. It’s actually more common in the civilian world than you realize. I work at a company where the average tenure is over 20 years. The days of title and tenure ruling the roost are long gone. This is true at so many companies. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, for the next 15 years, retirement of the experienced workforce will accelerate. You have countless tech start ups where tenure is nonexistent.

The greatest currencies within an organization are knowledge and information. As you’ve defined with the contractor set, I find that at a lot of companies the tenured set have stopped caring and learning. I’ve dedicated the last several years to learning and knowing as much as possible. I want to have a very strong understanding of our business. When you obtain that knowledge you gain assumptive influence. People at a company will come to you for information. You have the knowledge to make smart decisions and to get stuff done.

Of course networking, politics, and playing nice are always a part of it (I’ve really had to learn to shut my mouth sometimes), but if you’re a strong performer and an “information concierge” (Shout out to Eloqua) your reach of influence is limitless.”

In reference to my shout out above, Eloqua recently published a blog on the importance of having these influencers within your organization. Many power users actually credit the information they’ve gained about their company, through Eloqua, as the reason they’ve had advancements in their careers.

When raising kids you can’t fall back on “because I said so” forever. As a parent you have the knowledge and information to guide your children through smart decision making. The same is true in business. Those with knowledge, information, and understanding will make the greatest influential impact.

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Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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