THE BLOG

How to Change Your Manager's Mind

04/21/2015 06:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2015

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There are always situations where you can influence a manager. Launching a new project. Brainstorming a product or service. Taking the business to the next level. But many people fail to see their power in these situations.

Most people live in a small box and don't believe they can influence much. They limit themselves. Powerful people don't accept that. They reject that approach. And they change things. They embrace possibilities, expanding into the universe to shape it into something greater than anyone imagined before. They have a singular purpose that drives them to change work and the world. And that fuels big ideas, giving their actions life. Live that way, and you won't accept the status quo, because you'll be shaping the new future.

Powerful people know that the truth is it doesn't take Jedi powers to change a manager's mind. He may be self-protective or even care little for your ideas. But that shouldn't stop you.

Here's what you can do about it: Don't concede your power. There's a secret to influencing him, and it's radically simple: Inspiration. It's about thinking differently than most, and being different -- more open, kind, and bold. Here are some ways to change your manager's mind:

Be open. Don't close yourself off from feedback.

  • Connect to what he believes. Don't impose your beliefs.
  • Be kind. Don't expect more than you give or a better attitude than you bring.
  • Create a solution together. Don't rely on him to give you all the answers.
  • Be bold. Don't wait for direction, and don't follow the status quo.

Let's look at each of these in more detail:

Be open. Don't close yourself off from feedback.

Elon Musk, whose openness inspires others to achieve the impossible, offers this radically simple wisdom: "You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that's wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends." No matter the successes we've had, there's always room to grow. Ask your manager for advice and always stay in learning mode. Be real and shape the story of your work to inspire yourself and your manager. You don't have to agree with everything your manager thinks, says, or does. Just create something awesome together.

Connect to what he believes. Don't impose your beliefs.

Beliefs are a big deal in a world where our "whys" influence everything. Studies show that creating connections to others' beliefs is key to becoming indispensable in your work. Give your manager reasons to believe in his vision, in himself, and in your shared vision. I have a friend who did this, engaging his manager with curiosity and emotional connection. Instead of blaming that tough manager, he worked hard to inspire his manager to become a better leader. And my friend was rapidly promoted, becoming the head of a billion-dollar business because of that one decision.

Be kind. Don't expect more than you give or a better attitude than you bring.

Taylor Swift, whose authentic connection with her fans is so strong (think personally shopping for and delivering Christmas presents to them) it made her 1989 album the most successful in sales in 2014, says, "No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind." Powerful people give more than they take. Not only is helping others the best business plan, it's the best way to carry the hearts of others to places they've never been.

Create a solution together. Don't rely on him to give you all the answers.

Create new possibilities with your manager. Break free from the script of waiting for direction, or the boredom of sticking with old methods. Ask "why?" And keep asking. Push on the status quo until you find that new solution that inspires success. Care enough to challenge each other's thinking to ideate in new ways.

Be bold. Don't wait for direction, and don't follow the status quo.

J.J. Abrams applies boldness as he engages audiences with stories that entice and entertain in new ways. J.J. writes, directs, and produces movies with "the mystery box" in mind (a real box he bought from a magic shop that he's never opened), boldly challenging audiences to discover things for themselves. When you don't hold back in your pursuit of that inspired vision of the future, you'll realize it.

Applying these radically simple concepts makes amazing things happen. Big ideas, new possibilities, promotion, growth. And most important: You'll be able to change work and the world for good.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

(Cross-posted on LinkedIn)