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Leadership Academy offers strategies for influencing up

Friday, November 8, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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More than 400 NEW members learned to give feedback to managers, sell big ideas and negotiate their own success during the NEW Leadership Academy webinar, Nov. 7, 2013.

Linda Nordgren, vice president and general manager of merchandising for Safeway Inc., and Lori Carlin Proctor, senior retail supply leader for Procter & Gamble, shared their personal stories during "Influencing Your Leaders,” facilitated by career coach Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching.

"Whether you call it ‘influencing’ or ‘persuading’ or just ‘creating awareness,’ it is [important] to make sure that everyone in the organization knows the value that you, as a leader, and your team contributes to the organization,” Nordgren said. 

Proctor urged NEW members to help management "understand what drives you, where your passions lie and what you need to deliver the results that your company needs to become successful.”

Early in her career, Proctor said, she chose to turn down an expected relocation from California to Cincinnati that would advance her career. Assuring her national sales manager that she would "be the very best manager that he had,” she made clear she wanted to continue to grow her career. Her clarity of intention led to career opportunities.

"While sometimes we don’t say things perfectly, and we get ourselves in trouble, I will tell you that [direct and transparent communication] has served me well throughout my career,” she said.

Nordgren cited Safeway Executive Vice President Larree Renda, a mentor a role model, as an influential force in her career. Nordgren said Renda taught her to "always have your executive ‘antenna’ up,” stay tuned to the organization and career opportunities and work to be recognized as a leader by volunteering for the job "that absolutely no one wants.”

Following that example, Nordgren was able to impress with her work in a neglected area, then ask for sponsorship for her own strategic initiative.

Keys to influencing leaders

Nordgren urged professionals to know their leaders and to understand their preferred communication style. "We work in such a ‘people industry,’” Nordgren emphasized. "Really understanding what are their strengths, what are the really positive things about them and understanding how they like to communicate and how they like to receive communication is important. That does require doing your homework.”

Proctor advised listeners to be consistent with the message they communicate. "They need to be able to depend upon you, to know that your heart is in what you’re doing and that you’ll continue to deliver.”

"Never forget to reach out for help, early and often,” Proctor added, "but really think about what you need.”

Understanding leaders is critical. "They have a boss, too,” Proctor said, urging professionals to be respectful of time and alignment of projects. "Your boss can be 2,500 miles away, but you can still have lunch with your boss.”

She also shared motivational speaker Cy Wakeman’s advice to "ditch the drama.” "Are you helping to build your organization or are you adding drama to the workplace that you didn’t even think about before?”

"Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear,” added Nordgren, urging professionals to be authentic without sugarcoating news or information. "Be yourself. After all, an original is worth more than a copy.”

When managing upward, keep the team in mind and keep everyone informed of the message you are communicating to leaders, she said. "Influencing is a team sport.”

"This is where your authentic self comes into play,” Proctor added. "Let your coworkers know what you’re trying to achieve. You will all achieve far more.”

"Don’t forget that your leaders want you to succeed. Be sure to have those conversations that are important to you and important to them, and never forget that your performance and delivering results is what will make the difference in the end.”

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