How to Get What You Want

It takes conviction, candor, and, most importantly, courage to push against the boss or the board.

Managers who can’t stand up and push back are inevitably pushed around and down.

Yesterday, I talked with the President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Financial Services, Irv Rothman. He leads 1,500 employees in over 50 countries. His book, “Out-Executing the Competition” gave me the impression he was a great collaborator.

More than that, he’s great at standing up, pushing forward, and pushing back.

Getting what you want:

I asked Irv, “So, why is it that you are so successful at getting people to do what you want them to do?” He chuckled, paused, and said,

“ I’ve never been afraid to fail.”

Courage is the fuel that moves you and your organization forward. Fear is the snare that pulls you down and holds you back.

“Playing safe is probably the most unsafe thing in the world.
You cannot stand still. You must go forward.” Robert Collier

Roots of courage:

Courage is not a product of wishful thinking. It’s the result of careful preparation. Irv said, “If you want to be successful you have to be rational but you can’t be afraid to fail. The rational part of courage is preparation, testing assumptions, and proving your case.

“Present your case in a non-emotional, rational way.”

Who wins:

Irv continued by explaining that it’s not enough to make a rational argument. You have to get them excited by, “Showing them what’s in it for them.

“If you don’t manage up you get managed down.”


Before we left the topic, Irv added, “You have to be a consistent guy from the stand point of your behavior.” And finally he said,

“You have to give respect to get respect.”


All profits from, “Out-Executing the Competition” go to: Room to Read.


How can managers and leaders manage up?