Leila is a cheerful, optimistic, happy-go-lucky woman. Her highs are as dramatic as her lows; she can rail at you in one minute and re-appear with a ready smile in the next minute. She is good company and has little trouble making friends, forging new alliances and consolidating old relationships. Because she is dynamic and comfortable with people and change, she has been asked to play the role of Program Sponsor in the client’s Modernization Programme.
You want to make a good impression on Leila so that you can have a happy working relationship.
What are the top 5 ways you can sell yourself – and the upcoming changes – to her?
- 1st Message (‘’We like you’’): An Expressive’s numero uno need is for Personal Approval. If she has taken the trouble to come up with any presentation slides or discussion decks on the project, commend her for her efforts. Even if they are far from perfect, she will not appreciate your criticism or condemnation (unlike the Driver who does not mind being challenged). Rather, work with her to explore the merits of her plans. If you can inspire her and recognize her enthusiasm, she will be willing to do more to please you.
- 2nd Message (‘’We can excite you’’): One thing is clear; Expressives don’t like to be bored. In explaining the rationale for the change, don’t restrict yourself to dry facts and figures; bring the change to life by developing and presenting clear examples of what you hope to achieve. Motivational stories about people or situations that paint the change in a favorable light will help. A note of caution: Too much emphasis on motivational stimulation could result in a meeting which ends on an up-tone without ever arriving at any specifically agreed-upon action or commitment. So, be sure to agree on clear timelines for action and on the specifics of what you need from her.
- 3rd Message (‘’We agree with you’’): Even if you disagree with what she’s saying, avoid arguing with her; she has a strong need to win arguments. Look for alternate solutions that you can both share with excitement. Deferring to her when she’s not wrong will help you score points with her – after all, she is the client 🙂
- 4th Message ( ‘’We respect you’’): By now, you should have established that you want to be Leila’s friend and personal supporter of her dreams, rather than someone who might compete with her for the spotlight. Expressive clients consider power and politics important because they can enhance personal recognition and reputation. Show her how your change will make her look good.
- 5th Message (‘’We’re in this together’’): A collaborative approach will work best with Leila. Spend time exploring mutually stimulating ideas and possible solutions. Let her take as much of the credit for the ideas developed as she cares to. Remember – if you can get to her to the point where she believes the change will be fun and exciting and she begins to take personal ownership for its success and build creative ideas to make the change a reality, you will have succeeded.
Warm, approachable Leila will be turned off if you:
- Ignore her enthusiasm
- Put tasks ahead of fun
- Stifle her ideas and creativity
- Adopt a cold, formal or impersonal approach
- Go into too much detail
In summary, the tools you will need to engage with and change an Expressive stakeholder will have more to do with her heart than her head. They are:
- Personal approval
- Stimulating conversation
- Support for her ideas
- Opportunities for recognition
- A collaborative approach
You might want to try these strategies on your client and share the results.
In my next (and final) post, I’ll discuss the top 5 strategies for changing an Amiable.