Imagine you are the quarterback of a football team. You drive the team to the goal line…just one yard separates you from a touchdown. But instead of directing the next play, you walk off the field, leaving your team stunned and unsure how to proceed.
That’s what a client of mine has been doing her whole career. She is smart, does very good work, and people genuinely like her. She leads her team well, until she has to risk providing her opinion to a client. Then, she clams up.
What she doesn’t realize is that her opinions are the difference she brings to the game. Her team and clients want her to take a strong stance in offering her insights.
Your Opinion Is the Difference
Back to our football analogy. Two quarterbacks are playing in the same game. They have the same number of completions for the exact same amount of yardage. But QB1 has three touchdowns while QB2 none. Who is the more valued player? Of course, the one that scored.
Your team is looking to you to get them across the goal line. They want to hear your opinions and have them based on the experience you’ve amassed over your time as a professional. It is your opinion that is the difference you bring to the game. It is yours. You own it. But you have to communicate it.
Take the Risk of Taking a Stand
My client is known for providing her input by saying, “It seems like the problem is…” I imagine her clients have no idea what to do with that. They don’t want to know what something “seems like,” they want to know how it is. A problem presented in such a soft manner only leads to a client next questioning whatever solution is offered. Can you imagine our quarterback saying, “Well, it seems like they are covering our receivers so, perhaps we should run the ball?” Who would have confidence in that strategy?
Clients want you to take risks and offer your opinion. Tell them what the problem is, according to your view of it, and offer a strong solution. They may not agree with you, but far more times than not they will appreciate the chance you took. You took a stand on their behalf and now, you look like you are fully a part of the team and not just watching from the sidelines.
Be Relational and Create Urgency
I often speak about communicating relationally. This means listening first, speaking second. It also means delivering your input based on your audience’s world view, not yours. You have to understand where they are coming from, get in there (I call it “staying in the pain”), and deliver your opinion in a way in which they can relate.
Doing this will help you create urgency. When you pinpoint specific issues they are facing based on the probing you’ve done to get to their pain points, you can then deliver solutions that are on point and are needed now! If you’ve done your homework, listened, probed, and then delivered tailored solutions, you won’t have to ask if they are ready to move forward…they will ask you when you can start!
I worked with this client over several weeks and the results were tremendous. She changed her relationships, creating ones in which her team and her clients realized her value and the difference she was making. So, the next time you are driving your team to the goal, consider that they are all looking for you to get them across it. What will you do to get them there?
How do you deliver your opinions? Are they scoring plays or incompletions? Let me know. – SG