One of the things I love about facilitating our Make the Executive Connection program is what I learn from the senior executive mentors we bring in to coach and role play with participants.
One of my most memorable experiences was with an Executive Vice President of a well-known Fortune 100 company. He had a wickedly bright intelligence and razor-sharp common sense, wrapped in a folksy, homespun demeanor. And, it made for an unforgettable and transformational two-day learning experience.
Where’s the “fire in your belly”?
A highlight of the workshop took place after one of the students, a veteran account executive, had just finished a role play with the EVP and received this feedback:
"Your message got right to the heart of an important issue. Your recommendation was compelling, relevant, and valuable. What I didn’t hear or see was the fire in your belly…and if you don’t know what I mean by that, I mean your delivery lacked conviction."
I asked him to explain why conviction is something a senior executive looks for, and he had this to say:
"I was first promoted because I was really good at doing things. With each promotion, I found myself doing less and less.” Then he smiled and said, “and in my current role, I do almost nothing at all."
Can you make it happen?
As you can imagine, this got quite a laugh from the trainees — all seasoned sales professionals. Then he got right to the heart of the matter.
"I now have to depend on others to achieve the results I’m accountable for. Worrying about that can keep a fellow up at night. So when someone’s presenting an idea or recommendation to me, I’m not only evaluating the content of his or her message…I’m also evaluating the conviction of the messenger and asking myself: Can this individual make it happen?"
Message + Conviction = Results
I've never heard a better explanation of why senior executives evaluate both the value in the message and the conviction in the messenger when making decisions.
For me, it’s further proof that when the stakes are high, what you say and how you say it can make all the difference.
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