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September 2006
Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence

Wisdom to lead minds:

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas

won't get you anywhere."

Lee Iacocca, former chairman, Chrysler Corporation

What Every Leader Must Know About Selling Ideas

Every leader knows that he or she succeeds or fails by the measure of their ability to influence others to support important ideas and strategies. And it has never been tougher to earn the understanding, commitment and supportive action of important people and groups.

Stop and ask yourself these key questions. “How well am I doing at winning the hearts and minds support of those most important to my success?” And “What is the cost to me and my organisation when peers, staff, customers, suppliers and others fail to understand and fully support my ideas and strategies?”

If you are like most who address these questions, you share their pain of lost opportunities.

Just imagine the difference when:

  • You get buy-in and commitment from your next level down managers.
  • You and your team earn the active co-operation of external groups and organisations whose support you need.
  • You and your organisation earn the reputation among peers as a leader in your field.
  • Audiences respond to your speeches with appreciation and acclaim, and take action to support your ideas.
  • Your staff function and team earn attention, respect and co-operation from line managers and peer functions

Influence has become the currency of leadership. Those who fail to sell their ideas will wither; those who embed their ideas with others will win.

Influencing is not compulsory, but neither are successes nor even survival.

How can you improve your success rate? Here are five suggestions to start:

  1. Realise that earning and keeping commitment is job one. Nothing happens until something moves, and for leaders significant movement only happens through other people. Successful leaders form the habit of selling their ideas continuously.
  2. Be on purpose and at cause. You know what you want. Refine it to a specific one sentence purpose that you can keep in front of your mind always. And recognise that others won't support your purpose unless you win them over. So what do you need to do to cause that support?
  3. Narrow your targets. Support from everyone is an unlikely outcome. Who are the few who will make the most difference? Focus on these and you will bring others along later. This also allows you to be more specific in touching these targets, and so avoid the meaningless abstractions toted out by those trying to appeal to everyone at once.
  4. Avoid the cult of the core message. When have you ever changed your mind after reading someone else's annual report, or their glossy brochure? Do you even read these? Information alone, including most carefully crafted core messages, does not move hearts and minds. Just because most others believe it doesn't make it so. Examine the evidence of your own experience and those around you. Then abandon this notion. Look to the tools of dialogue, persuasion and emotional communication for success strategies.
  5. Sell the problem first. Too often leaders and other persuaders rush to sell us a solution without ensuring that we first see the problem as worth solving. We live in the most over communicated society in history and are awash in ideas for action. People have become experts at ignoring even good ideas because they do not have the bandwidth to receive and consider everything coming at them.

However, their radar does lock on to problems that do or might affect them or those they care about. So first ensure the problem is real and vivid to them before you share your idea and proposed action.

Start today adopting these approaches into your routine communication and action and notice the difference in the support you earn.


Geoff Kelly works with leaders who are frustrated that others don't fully support their ideas and strategies. He mainly works with corporate leaders around the world, but also leaders in Government and Not for Profit. He is also a popular speaker on this and related subjects. See www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au, email [email protected] or call +613 9678 9218 for more information


© 2006 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
You are free to use material from the Leading Minds eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read: "By Geoff Kelly of Kelly Strategic Influence. Please visit Geoff's web site at www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au for additional articles and resources on earning support for your ideas and strategies." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)



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