‘’How easy to be amiable in the midst of happiness and success’’ – William Ellery Channing.
Such may easily be said of Sheikh Ahmed, the simple and unassuming CEO of a global industrial conglomerate. This ‘’happy old man’’ is universally esteemed for his untiring benevolence and indefatigable cheerfulness. He is popular in such a manner as to be almost legendary, and his conversations are cataracts of anecdotes and loud laughter. It seems that Sheikh Ahmed’s good cheer proceeds, not from spontaneous joy, but from a grim determination never to be sad. Cheerfulness has become for him a kind of moral imperative, jocularity a public duty.
And he has every reason to be merry; his company, which he began as a humble trading enterprise thirty years ago is well on its way to becoming a Global Fortune 500 company, placing him squarely on Forbes’ list of the wealthiest men alive.
He has engaged your services as a consultant to transform the operating model of his company to support the quantum leap in size and complexity to be expected from his ambitious expansion plans. For your first meeting with him, you want to present your idea of an innovative To-Be framework for his business which is radically from the framework proposed to him by his previous consultants.
What are the top 5 ways you can sell your ideas for the upcoming changes to him?
- 1st Message (‘’We care about you’’): A caustic, business-like approach will not endear you to Sheikh Ahmed. Establish rapport by engaging in small talk; ask general questions that will encourage him to talk. Depending on your level of familiarity with him, you may inquire about members of his staff whom you have worked with on previous engagements. Such emphasis on relationships and a shared history will help begin the conversation on the right note.
- 2nd Message (‘’We have thought this through thoroughly’’): As an Amiable, Sheikh Ahmed’s basic need is for Personal Security. Because he is naturally risk-averse and cautious, you need to re-assure him that your proposed framework is dependable and reliable. You may also win him by letting him know why your proposed framework will be acceptable to others who are important to him e.g. other key members of the Board of Directors.
- 3rd Message (‘’We see the risks and know how to mitigate them’’): Provide personal guarantees and assurances that the proposed framework has little risk. Use third-party testimonials as necessary to let Sheikh Ahmed customer know that others have benefited from your framework.
- 4th Message (‘’We are listening to you’’): Ask questions that will encourage Sheikh Ahmed to talk. Then listen emphatically so he feels heard and understood.
- 5th Message (‘’We won’t rush you’’): He may ramble and interject some anecdotes; resist the temptation to rush him unnecessarily. Keep your pace relaxed and avoid fast, non-personal messages that might have you come across as cold or indifferent. He might display resistance by postponing a decision, expressing doubt or uncertainty in a questioning way, or explaining that he wants to talk with someone else about your proposal. In this case, let him know you will follow up with him personally via the phone or another meeting. ‘’Pushing’’ him is likely to backfire.
The amiable, agreeable Sheikh Ahmed will be turned off if you:
- Press him too hard for a change
- Adopt a cool approach
- Go into too much detail about deadlines to be met
The tools you will need to engage with and change the opinions of an Amiable stakeholder are:
- A slow, deliberate pace
- Plenty of small talk
- Informal interactions
- Empathy and acknowledgement of his feelings
- A supportive, respectful approach
So, there you have it – strategies for changing stakeholders with different Social Styles. I hope you found the posts interesting and enlightening.
Hoping for fresh inspiration from my blogging muse for a fresh series soon 🙂