Tailor Your Delivery to Their Decision-Making Style
Sarah was mystified. A week after delivering her “irrefutable” pitch for a promising new initiative to her boss and a group of peers she learned the idea had been tabled. In her organization that meant it was basically dead-in-the-water.
As her coach, it was my job to help her understand what had happened.
Sarah had done her homework. It definitely seemed like a great concept that she had considered from every angle. The presentation deck was loaded with details and data that supported every aspect of her argument.
But as she described her delivery, I had what might seem like a mundane insight – namely, that Sarah had structured her pitch in a way that made the most sense to Sarah.
It sounds obvious, but this is something most of us do. We assume that if a line of thinking is persuasive to us, it will be persuasive to others. But that’s not how persuasion works.
I asked Sarah to describe the decision-making styles in her organization. She wasn’t entirely clear what I was after, so I explained some of the more common styles. Some people go with their gut and things just need to “feel right” to them. Some leaders focus on consensus, they consider it their role to facilitate the discussion among different viewpoints. Others rely solely on data and will challenge every piece of information and ask for more…
As I described this last style I picked up on a subtle shift in Sarah. After a little exploration it turned out this was her style. She had come from an organization that was fanatical about the numbers. According to her, everything had to be backed up with hard data.
But when she described her boss and some other senior leaders in her current organization, it quickly became apparent that they had a very different decision-making style – one that seemed to value consistency and consensus.
Gaining an awareness of decision-making styles was a huge insight for Sarah. She is now working to better understand the styles in her organization and to tailor her next pitch in a way that will best align with them.
If you aspire to be more influential in your organization, here are some tips to improve your understanding of decision-making styles:
1.Consider some decisions you have witnessed and ask what values guided them. Was it a focus on data? Risk? Consensus? Personality?
2. Identify some successful influencers in your organization and study their approach. What are some of the things they do that have made them successful?
Finally, recognize that decision-making, like all change, is a process. We like to think that we can get to yes by the end of the meeting, but it often takes time and a series of revisions to reach a place where others are comfortable enough to embrace your ideas - no matter how irrefutable they may be.