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Fingerprints: The key to getting your proposal implemented

Your executive team proposal needs to be good, but you also need to be good at persuading key players to back you. Here's why.

4 min read


Fingerprints: The key to getting your proposal implemented

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Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by Bob Tiede.

If you or your team have ever put together a proposal for your organization, you know the amount of effort required. 

You did the needed research, you surveyed and interviewed clients/prospects/staff, you consulted with outside experts, and you considered several options. You put together an exceptional PowerPoint presentation with an accompanying full-color printed proposal, and you walked into the conference room with absolute confidence that your leadership would enthusiastically accept your proposal (and maybe even give you all raises!) 

And then, when you finished, your CEO or president thanked you for your work, asked for time to discuss and promised they’d let you know. You and your team walked out of the conference room, confident that you would soon be hearing a big congratulations on your unanimously approved proposal!

But then an hour, a day, a week later, you received a short email from your CEO/President, “Thanks for all your work. After careful consideration, the Leadership Team has decided not to accept the proposal.” Or maybe you received a positive response from your CEO/President sharing that your leadership team enthusiastically accepts your proposal, but then days/weeks/months/years passed, and your proposal has yet to be implemented.

Looking back, what went wrong?   

At the end of the day, it is not always the smartest proposals that get approved and implemented, but the proposals for which alignment was built. This is not about office politics; this is about connecting with and involving the people affected by the proposal during the planning process. The higher up you move in any organization, the more you have to get things done relationally.

Getting the fingerprints of key stakeholders

You’ve likely heard the phrase “involvement breeds commitment.” By involving the key stakeholders, including the leadership team, the CEO or president’s colleagues and other staff, early on, you allow them to see their contributions, their fingerprints, on your finished proposal, thus giving them greater incentive to back your plan. 

So, what might you have done to get the fingerprints of the key stakeholders on your proposal before walking into the conference room to present? 

What questions might you ask your stakeholders before putting together your next proposal in order to create relationship, support, and alignment throughout the entire process from the seed of “what if” to the complete execution of your proposal?

Telling creates resistance, asking creates relationship

The following questions are good jumping-off points for getting the stakeholder’s and leadership team’s fingerprints on your proposal:

  • If you were going to take a look at X (area your proposal will address) what would you look at? What would you want to research? Who would you want to interview?
  • After we have completed the initial research, can I come back to share what we found and again get your wise counsel?
  • Once we create our first proposal draft can I run it by you for your input? 

When key stakeholders see their fingerprints on your proposal, you’ve greatly increased the odds that your proposal will be met with enthusiastic support for both its approval and implementation. 

So, get people involved, ask questions, and make your team’s hard work worth it.


Bob Tiede is the author of several e-books, including “Now That’s a Great Question.” His internationally recognized blog, Leading With Questions, helps leaders increase their leadership effectiveness by moving from “leading by telling” to “leading with questions.”

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