Expose pitfalls to sell new idea

Here are two letters from the mail bag: 

Dear Joan:
One technique I have always used when presenting a controversial idea, is to attack my own idea before the audience does. For example, when I am pitching something I know the senior team will challenge and question me on, I do the challenging and questioning myself before they can.
I will list all the negatives, and “what if’s,” and talk about all the risks. This does a couple of things: It takes the wind out of their sails. It makes them realize that I have thought through all the pitfalls, and it strengthens my recommendation, because they see I have thought it all through and I still feel my chosen recommendation makes the most sense.
I have a hard time convincing others (especially the sales force) to do the same thing. They tend to want to push the upside—all the reasons why it will be great; all the opportunities, etc. They don’t want to expose the negatives. They feel it will open Pandora’s Box and the senior executives won’t approve what they are asking for.
We are in a corporate setting, in a financial institution. I say that my way is better, because the senior execs are analytical and they are going to shoot holes in it anyway, so we might as well beat them to the punch.
What do you think?
Bravo! Your strategy is much more likely to win you points for being credible and thorough. They will trust you’ve done your homework. As long as you make a compelling argument after you expose the negatives, it should be a powerful strategy. The reason executives try to poke so many holes in a new idea is because they aren’t sure the presenter has thought through all the angles, or are minimizing the negatives. Over time, they will challenge you less and less because they’ll trust your approach.
Dear Joan:
I am an Office Manager for a retirement home. A little history of my own: My background is in Business / Customer Service. I’ve held positions as an Accountant/Controller and an Office Manager.
My office is directly in the front of the building, so I am the first contact they see when they arrive.
Issue: When my boss goes on vacation I always feel that I need to take care of things and make sure the company is running smoothly. However, there seems to be a power struggle with the manager. I end up looking like the bad one, when all I wanted to do is make sure everything is running smoothly.
I feel my boss should be putting someone in charge, when she is gone on vacation, so decisions can be made without conflict. What do you think? Also, I’m not sure how to discuss / suggest this without her feeling like I’m telling her what to do.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Your suggestion sounds completely reasonable and responsible. I suspect the manager is insecure, or, something you are doing is ruffling her feathers, or both.
If you have just stepped in when she is gone without her blessing, she may think you are overstepping your role. Perhaps you have made a decision in her absence, and she was irked that you assumed authority without her sanctioning it. Or, perhaps you have pushed back or disagreed with her, and it wasn’t welcomed.
If you have butted heads with her in the past, which is what I’m surmising from your “power struggle” comment, it might be best to suggest someone else be in charge while she is gone on vacation, rather than lobbying for the role yourself. Even though you sit up front, suggesting that someone else be second-in-command, will make it clear you aren’t trying to pull a power play, but merely suggesting what is right for the efficient operation of the organization.
If she doesn’t want to take either step, I would recommend that you, and others, call her every time a decision needs to be made, or a conflict resolved. That may be enough to convince her that a point person would be a good idea in her absence.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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