In my last post I discussed the 3 core elements of influence first outlined by Aristotle. I also discussed what that means for us today. We can go much deeper into each element; and need to if we want to understand how we apply these 3 elements.
As a reminder, these 3-elements are 1) Logos (the logical appeal; our data; our strength), 2) Pathos (the emotional appeal; story telling; effective presentations, and 3) Ethos – influence through credibility and character; the trust we engender with our clients.
Today I’ll focus on Logos; the facts. This is our strength. We’re great at reporting data. But to be effective we must recognize that there’s a lot of data out there – not just ours. We must recognize that it’s not just about us.
The facts are great. But we’re not the only one with them!
A Corporate Executive Board study found that, on average, senior executives use eight sources of information for most decisions. And guess what – we’re only one. We only see our data and, therefore, see the world only through our lens. The analytics team does the same as does the sales analysis and finance team.
Unfortunately, not all these sources of data will align and tell the same story. Typically, the executive is left with sorting through conflicting data to reach a decision. Want to be a hero to the CEO? Reconcile all this conflicting data.
Has this happened to you?
I was once in the board room with the CEO and the head of analytics. The CEO asked me what I thought about our pricing strategy. I gave a clear, definitive answer based on a lot of market research. He then turned to the head of analytics and asked her. She said the exact opposite answer based on all her modeling. Needless to say the CEO was frustrated. After all, we were the ones who were supposed to know the answer.
Bottom line, both of our datasets were right, yet neither truly understood how this data reconciled; neither understood the entire situation.
The result – we gave the CEO permission to ignore both of us. We both missed a huge opportunity to influence the company’s pricing strategy simply because neither of us had a full understanding of the entire picture.
Three things to do to add perspective and strengthen your argument
1. High level presentations — When pulling data together for anyone who’s title begins with a “C,” search out other relevant data other than your own. Make sure your data and conclusions are consistent with this other data. If not, re-think your conclusion or have a good reason why your conclusion is right in spite of the conflicting data. If your data is consistent, bring the other data into your summary – it will strengthen your argument.
2. Get on the distribution list for other relevant data. Typically this is an easy thing to do and it does not take much time. Just a quick periodic scan will keep you abreast of key trends. If you are a research supplier, ask to see more than the studies you execute.
3. Pull together an impromptu team to review an issue – Pull together someone from analytics, the sales analysis team, from operations, or even finance. Include a Product Manager. Walk through the data on an issue and reconcile it together. You will have a much better understanding of all the issues and your insights will be much more on target. Also, all those on this team will be giving the same story up their chain of command. Finally, you will be seen as a leader as this is the type of thing a leader will do.
Senior Execs want more than a technician
Remember, most senior execs are looking someone who understands their business; a trusted advisor. We have to understand that technical skills are simply cost of entry; and they can be easily replaced. (That applies to the supplier side as well). A trusted advisor is priceless. Understanding other data sources will give us a much broader perspective of the company. This, in turn, will enable us to provide much more insightful analysis and recommendations.
Isn’t that, after all, why we’re here?