Leading Strategic Stakeholders
Reflect for a minute – have you been leading your strategic stakeholders? Do you have an approach for consistently managing their perspectives and perceptions? We encounter many stakeholders on a daily and weekly basis among them, few are strategic who can make or break your career. In the modern complex matrix organization these aren’t necessarily C level executives. Many times these are the people who impact your managerial effectiveness, by lifting obstacles and solving issues that are impeding your work.
At times, managers ignore the soft aspects of influencing and leading strategic stakeholders successfully. They neglect to affect perceptions of the strategic stakeholders.
Six Practical guidelines
Here are the prime six practical guidelines for Influencing and leading strategic stakeholders successfully.
1. What’s in it for me?
Understand how the strategic stakeholder views the issue/topic/ idea from his perspective – the famous WIFM – ‘what is in it for me’, is a great tool to gain a deeper understanding of the stakeholder’s perspective.
2. List your current tasks and objectives
Have a short description or explanation of your current tasks and objectives, what are your most important strategic endeavours, and also very important – how the strategic stakeholder can help alleviate the issues you are facing;
3. Provide reasoning for your request
It is crucial that you communicate a short narrative of the issue that gives context to your need. Focus on expressing your need rather than your position. Opt for concrete examples. It is key in explaining your issues to strategic stakeholders; the stakeholders could be from HR and you from sales, or from IT while you are in engineering or purchasing.
4. Communicate in terms of reciprocation
It is one of the most powerful influencing tools – the famous quid pro quo is essential in building a long term sustainable relationship with stakeholders. Dr Cialdini’s book – Psychology of persuasion – a must-read bestseller who I refer to extensively in my book Influence and lead, lists 6 influence techniques out of which reciprocation is probably the most non-manipulative. The others being: scarcity, commitment and consistency, authority, liking and social proof.
5. Use powerful words
Many of our dialogues in the workplace are peppered with words that are counterproductive. Influencing and leading strategic stakeholders successfully mandates using words that create action. The word ‘but’ for example interferes with a flowing interaction and impacts a request negatively. ‘Try’ communicates to your partner that either you don’t believe his promise or that you will wiggle out from your promise.
6. Summarize and recap agreement often
Strategic stakeholders are busy and sometimes forgetful.
Remember that you get limited bandwidth to influencing and leading strategic stakeholders. In order to be an effective manager, you must make the most out of your interactions with them. By following the above guidelines you will increase your chances of getting the support you need to complete your tasks.