Four Steps to Influence Your Boss’s Decisions

What should you do if you boss is your biggest roadblock?

Do you work for someone that does not like change, they don’t want to improve things, or they prefer the status quo to avoid putting themselves at risk of making mistakes?  What if you have ideas to improve your business but you can’t get them past your boss?  What if your boss’s practices are preventing growth and inadvertently hurting the company…do you say something to them?  Do you go above them to be heard?  This is a common dilemma that many of us will face at some point in our career.  It is a difficult position to be in, but you can learn ways to communicate your message and maintain your relationship with your boss.

Keep in mind that your boss has a reason for not wanting to change.  Some people are risk adverse because they are scared of making mistakes, or they don’t have enough confidence to make a decision.  Sometimes they are just stubborn and don’t want to listen to anyone who works for them, or they don’t have time to weed through all the information presented.  Take these things into consideration and focus on eliminating these reasons from your boss’s mind.  Once you do, you can get your ideas listened to and acted upon.  Here are four steps you can take to influence your boss’s decisions:

Step One: Plant the seed of your idea in every discussion you can with everyone you can.

Bring your idea up in passing with people in your organization, those on your team, working for you and working above your boss.  If you plant the idea and get others talking about it, by the time it gets to your boss, it will be something known.  This reduces the fear of standing up for something that is new.  Make sure that when you talk to others, especially those above you boss, you explain that you are trying to prepare a presentation for your boss.  Don’t come across as going around them, make sure everyone knows you are working on something that will ultimately be for them.

Step Two: Incorporate the comments and ideas of others into your concept and discussions.

As you speak to others about your concept, listen to their feedback.  Let the topic evolve as you incorporate their comments so that the concept develops into collaboration.  Everyone gets credit, everyone has ownership.  Do this as you continue to plant the seed.  Name dropping and idea morphing helps your seed resonate.

Step Three: Ask for your boss’s opinion after you spread the seed throughout your organization.

Go to your boss and explain that you have an idea you would like to present.  Explain that you have been working with others…name them…to get feedback on the idea and it is now at the point where it is ready to discuss.  Ask for their opinion, use the feedback you already received to dispel any fear your boss may have.  Be very positive and eager for their input.  At this point your boss can’t dismiss you because it is already beyond their control.  Set it up so that if action is to be taken, your boss is the one to take it…even if that means telling you to do something.

Step Four: Let your boss be the hero.

Give your boss credit for making the change and leading the idea.  The more often you can set your boss up for success, the more open he or she will be to your ideas in the future.

The reality is that your boss may be upset with you for going around them before talking with him or her first, so keep the following tips in mind:

  • Only use these steps if your boss has a history of shooting down every idea you present.  In an ideal world you should be able to have constructive dialog with your boss before taking your idea around them.
  • Always stay positive about the benefits of your idea and keep the dialog strictly about the idea, not your frustrations.
  • Never speak negatively about any individuals.
  • Always speak positively about your boss.
  • You may be pulling your boss along kicking and screaming, but if your ideas are good ones, the should not hurt your career…by getting feedback you can help the likelihood of your ideas being good ones.
  • If you don’t get positive feedback from others on your ideas, don’t present them to your boss.
  • Your boss may see you as a troublemaker in the short term,  but as an individual that influences positive change your efforts should help your career growth over time.

I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!


Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of

Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.

Strategic Consulting ǀ Management Consulting: Strategy Realized

      Contact Lisa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s