As a fleet manager, your role is about more than managing assets; you also must manage and work with people to get things done.
Think about it. No matter how bulletproof you believe your proposal might be for, say, why the fleet department should receive a larger budget this year, you can expect some pushback from senior management.
That’s a given because people tend to resist change. The key is to win them over at their point of resistance. But how?
Learn to disarm those who disagree with you; don’t debate them. Otherwise, they’ll put up a wall, and you’ll lose their support.
That’s one of the big ideas from Dale Carnegie’s perennial bestselling classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – a book every leader should read.
Carnegie wrote, “There’s magic, positive magic in such phrases as: ‘I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.’”
The idea here is to begin any contentious conversation with humility and respect for the other party’s concern: “I may be wrong. I frequently am.”
This disarms them, signaling your openness to discuss the issue in good faith without getting defensive or appearing that you want to force your opinion down their throat.
Then shift to collaboration: “Let’s examine the facts.” Walk them through the data, connecting the dots as to how you arrived at your conclusion that a larger fleet budget is in the best interest of the entire business.
Address any further concerns without defensiveness and arrive at an agreeable conclusion, even if, at times, that means you agree to disagree.
But more often than not, you’ll find senior management appreciating the respect you’ve shown them, opening them up to your point of view and increasing your odds of winning them over.
The bottom line: When you admit the possibility of being wrong – no matter how right you might be – you set the tone for a productive conversation that opens the door to your influence.
Sean M. Lyden