If Jane told you to jump in a lake, would you jump?

My mother used to say that to me when I was a child and didn’t exhibit sufficient independence of thought.

I was reminded of that (annoying) phrase recently at a talk I gave on influence and managing your boss.

My premise is that influence depends on:

1) having a relationship

2) understanding the other persons interests and concerns

3) being willing to state your concerns in terms that relate to the other persons interests and concerns

4) looking for a mutually beneficial outcome – influence isn’t about getting someone else to act against their own best interest

Part of the talk focused on understanding how your company makes money and being able to state your case in terms the other person finds important – and with management that usually means money, schedule, risk.

After the talk a man came up to me and told me he didn’t want to bother with making the case to his boss.

“I don’t like doing the work to come up with the numbers, and I don’t have time to do it. I want my boss to do something because I said so. That’s the kind of trust I want from my boss.”

He wanted a way to get that trust now. Building up trust over time wasn’t interesting to him.

I found his position just slightly disturbing:

It’s not reasonable to expect another person to give up their own judgment.

Managers have a responsibility for fiduciary oversight when using company assets. Managers should be wary of allocating company assets with out some rational justification.

Blind trust is wide-open to abuse.

When I have history, track record, and trust with someone, I will give serious consideration based on their recommendation. I don’t give up my own judgment.

BTW, This month marks the 25th anniversary of Jonestown.