How A CIO Can Become Very Persuasive

Successful CIOs are also very persuasive
Successful CIOs are also very persuasive
Image Credit: Eric Malette

What does it take to be a successful CIO? The answer, of course, is that it takes a lot of different things. Most importantly you need to become good at selling both yourself and the importance of information technology to others. Another way of saying this is that you need to be good at persuading people. We’re not talking about finding ways to either pressure or manipulate people. Rather you just have a way of getting them to want to do what you need them to do. How can the person with the CIO job boost their ability to be persuasive?

Win Them Over

The first thing that we need to understand about being persuasive is that the people that we’ll be talking with are not looking to be wowed by data and reasoning. I know, this is a bit disappointing. However, what they are looking for is you to be confident. Studies have shown that speakers who come across as knowing their stuff can win over even the most skeptical people. Your audience will naturally associate confidence with skill.

When you want to get a group of people to agree with the idea that you present to them, you need to not present them with your big idea right off the bat. Instead, you are going to want to present them with some smaller ideas that you are confident that they will agree to. Different studies have shown that once you can get agreement on smaller issues, this will have an enduring effect for at least a short period of time. Get your audience to agree with you right off the bat and then when you present your big idea, you’ll have a much better chance of them agreeing with you.

Somewhat interestingly, the rate at which you speak can have an impact on how persuasive you will come across as being. We generally face two different types of audiences: audiences that agree with what we are telling them and audiences that disagree with what we are telling them. It turns out that if your audience disagrees with you, then you should talk faster. Doing so prevents them from coming up with ideas that go against what you are saying. If your audience agrees with what you are saying, then you need to speak slower. This will allow them to evaluate what you are telling them and will allow them to factor in their own thoughts which should help them to persuade themselves.

Know Your Audience

If you want to persuade a group of people to do what you need them to do, you are going to have to find ways to get them to believe in you. What this means is that you are going to have to reveal the authentic you to them. You want to show them that you really care. There are a number of different ways to go about doing this. Interestingly enough, showing that you are frustrated is one of them and including a couple of curse words can clearly show that you have a real sense of urgency in regards to what is being discussed.

If you want to get your audience to agree with you, then you are going to have to take into account how they like to process information. We all process information differently and so if you start asking your audience to process what you are telling them in a way that doesn’t work for them, they’ll push back. You don’t want them to reject what you are requesting just because of how it was presented to them. Instead, what you need to do is to make sure that you don’t push your audience to agree with you right off the bat if that’s not their style. However, don’t ask them to think about it if they are quick decision makers.

When we present ideas to an audience, we want them to agree with us. What this means is that all too often, we may end up just presenting the good stuff – ideas that support our position. It turns out that your audience realizes that there are two sides to each coin and that no idea is perfect. This means that you can become more persuasive if you present one or more opposing ideas. Take the time to show how you can mitigate or overcome those problems.

What All Of This Means For You

As the person in the CIO position, you need the help of other people in order to get things done. This is not always an easy thing to make happen. What’s going to have to happen is that you are going to have to find ways to persuade other people both inside and outside of your company to do what you need them to do for you. The trick is discovering what it takes to persuade someone…

The first thing that you need to understand when it comes to persuading someone is that they are not going to be wowed by logic. Facts and figures will only take you so far. What they are really looking for is someone who is confident in what they are saying. In order to get them to agree with you, you need to be careful to not ask for the big agreement right off the bat. Instead, get them to agree to several small things first and then present them with your main point. Use your rate of speech to get audiences that both disagree and agree with you to be won over to your proposal. To persuade a group of people, they are going to have to feel that they are dealing with the authentic you and so you’ll have to reveal the real you to them. Your idea will require them to consider what you are saying and this means that you’re going to have to take into account how they process information. Your idea may be a great idea, but there are other ideas. You need to present both to your audience so that they feel that they have a balanced view of what is being discussed.

Persuasion is a key part of being a CIO. You need support from others in order to accomplish all of the things that the company is counting on you to do. This means that you are going to have to be able to persuade others to do what you need them to do. Persuasion can be learned and so spend some time getting good at it and you’ll become a more effective CIO.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How fast do you think a CIO should talk if they are dealing with an audience that does not agree with what they are saying?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the biggest challenges that any CIO has is trying to stay on top of all of the different buzzwords that seem to spring up daily in the world of IT in order to remain tapped into the importance of information technology. Well guess what, yet another one has just shown up on the scene: chatbot. This one just might be important because it appears to be a way that your firm may be able to hold a conversation with up to a billion people.