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How to Make Your Voice Resonate with Upper Management

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the decision-making landscape is essential for aligning one's ideas with the interests of key decision-makers, thus influencing executive decisions effectively.

  • Self-awareness and perception management are pivotal in positioning oneself in a way that meets leadership expectations and builds trust.

  • Deciphering the decision-making process, by understanding its dynamics and tailoring approaches accordingly, empowers leaders to navigate and influence with finesse.

  • Clarity and confidence are crucial in presenting ideas; they ensure messages are well-received and inspire trust among decision-makers.

  • Building ongoing relationships and alliances with key stakeholders enhances one's ability to influence decisions and fosters a collaborative impact.


The ability to influence decisions at the executive level is a skill that sets leaders apart. As technology leaders, we navigate complex terrains where every decision can shape the trajectory of our organizations. I want to explore the art of "Influencing Upwards," unraveling key strategies to make your voice resonate in decision-making processes.

Understanding the Decision-Making Landscape

To effectively influence upward, one must first decipher the decision-making landscape. What matters to key decision-makers and executive sponsors? What are their priorities, concerns, and language? Aligning your message with their interests not only captures attention but also demonstrates a deep understanding of the business context. Speak their language, incorporating their goals into your proposals, and watch as your ideas seamlessly integrate into the broader vision.

The Mirror of Self-Awareness

Perception is reality. Understanding how you are perceived by the executive team is pivotal. Take a reflective pause and evaluate your image. Are you seen as a problem solver, a visionary, or a reliable executor? Being self-aware allows you to strategically position your contributions to match the leadership's expectations. This self-awareness forms the foundation for building credibility, and trust, a cornerstone in influencing decision-makers.

Decoding the Decision-Making Process

To influence decisions, we need to understand how decisions are made. Is it data-driven, collaborative, or does it rely heavily on intuition? By unraveling the decision-making process, you gain insights into the factors that carry weight. Tailor your approach accordingly, presenting compelling data or fostering collaboration, depending on the organizational culture. Knowing the intricacies of decision-making empowers you to navigate the process with finesse.

This might sound easier than it is. One of my favourite techniques is to ask, “ how is this decision going to made”, or “how are we going to make this decision”. You will then understand key people, important data and potential, even shape the process.

Clarity and Confidence: The Power Duo

Important decisions demand clarity and confidence. Ambiguity breeds hesitation, and hesitation can erode trust. Craft your messages with precision, ensuring that your proposals are clear, concise, and aligned with organizational goals. Confidence, rooted in thorough preparation and belief in your ideas, captivates attention and inspires trust. When you present your case with clarity and confidence, decision-makers are more likely to respond positively.

Building Relationships and Alliances

Influence thrives in the soil of relationships. Cultivate connections with key decision-makers, not just when you need their support, but as an ongoing practice. Engage in meaningful conversations, seek their insights, and offer your assistance. Genuine relationships create a fertile ground for influence to flourish. Furthermore, forming alliances with colleagues who share similar objectives amplifies your voice and enhances collective impact.

Graceful Acceptance of Rejection

Not every idea will gain immediate traction. Accepting rejection gracefully is an art that distinguishes resilient leaders. Instead of viewing rejection as a setback, consider it a valuable learning opportunity. Understand the reasons behind the decision, and use it to refine your understanding and approach next time. Demonstrating resilience in the face of rejection positions you as a leader who learns and evolves, further solidifying your influence over time.

Conclusion: A Symphony of Leadership Influence

Our ability to influence decisions at the executive level is not just a skill; it's an imperative. By understanding the decision-making landscape, cultivating self-awareness, decoding the decision-making process, and embodying clarity and confidence, we can effectively make our voices resonate with other leaders. Building relationships and alliances, coupled with graceful acceptance of rejection, orchestrates a symphony of leadership influencing skills that will differentiate you.

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Thought Collective is a private network of technology leaders that harness their collective intelligence, share their knowledge, and help each other generate better results for themselves and their businesses.


President at Thought Collective

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