Ever get blindsided by someone who said they’d support you, but voted against your initiative when it came time for a vote? Ever been surprised by someone you naturally assumed would support your request, only to find that they were quite vocally opposed to it?  Ever wondered why the level of support you THOUGHT you had on something/from someone was far less than what you really DID have?

It’s a surprisingly common occurrence, actually. Why? Because support is rarely a static thing. Rather, “yes or no,” it’s almost always dependent on  circumstances. And that’s not entirely inappropriate.

  • I may be very willing to support your request for non-budgeted funds … but not if it means funding your request with  dollars already committed to spent out of MY budget.
  • I may be very willing to support your request to take on additional responsibilities … but not if it upends a set of well-running processes already in place.
  • I may be very willing to support your request for a temporary reassignment of staff from my area to your … but not so quickly, or for so long.

In truth, many of THEIR surprises can be eliminated by eliminating YOUR surprises. So if you’re wanting someone’s support, it’s best to be fully transparent about what kind of – and how much – support you’re really requesting from them.

You don’t always need the SAME level of support from everyone on every thing. But you need to know the level of support you DO need – and currently have. So let’s take a closer look at some different LEVELS OF SUPPORT* that are possible:

  • a willingness to LET it happen – This level of support is totally passive, but  more-than-sufficient when all you need is for someone to NOT say, “No!” to your request.
  • a willingness to HELP it happen – This level of support does require some action from the other person, but is more-than-sufficient when all you need is a little assist to get (or keep) things rolling.
  • a willingness to MAKE it happen – This level of support requires the use of someone’s full effort and/or authority on your behalf to insure the desired results are actually achieved.

To take a more systemic approach to determining what levels of support you need from whom, try this exercise taken from the For Clients Only/Client Resources section of the LeadershipTraction website: 

*Based on the work of Richard Beckhard, Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change.

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