You've come up with a really great idea. But you've been around your organization long enough that even the best idea can die a painful death if you don't get buy-in from key stakeholders.

So, even though you believe your concept is indisputably brilliant, you need to work at persuading leaders and other influencers to a) support it, b) approve it, and b) fund it.

Here are 5 ways to influence leaders (and anyone else):

1. Link your ideas to your leader's needs

  • Set clear objectives for your pitch
  • Demonstrate why your idea will support leaders' agenda
  • Never lose sight of the big picture

2. Approach persuasion as a process

  • Build relationships over time
  • Demonstrate to leaders that you understand their challenges and concerns
  • Don't get discouraged if your first attempt hits a few bumps; be persistent

3. (Subtly) sell your idea

  • Know your audience and plan key messages accordingly
  • Meet with influencers ahead of time to get their support before you formally present to a group
  • Articulate the need by telling a story, using evidence only to bolster your case
  • Describe past situations where a similar approach was successful

4. Be prepared to defend your concept

  • Clearly describe how your plan will benefit the company
  • Organize your pitch so it's quick and easy to understand
  • Anticipate tough questions and prepare solid answers
  • Have the courage to stand by your convictions

5. Paint the picture of a beautiful future

  • Help leaders envision how the company will function better with your plan in place, and examine the consequences if your plan is not implemented
  • Outline the steps you'll take to implement your plan
  • Describe the specific support you'll need, and ask leaders to back you