When it comes to becoming influential, you need to go through a number of steps.
Firstly, it will pay huge dividends if you get crystal clear on what you are aiming to influence. This includes moving from a hard goal to a soft goal and then backing it up with evidence criteria.
With that clear, it becomes much easier to identify who the key stakeholders are – those who have the power and interest to help or hinder your progress. Without doing this, most people seem to focus on the stakeholders who are nearest to them, easiest to access, or they have the best relationship with.
After a simple analysis exercise (considering relationship and agreement) it then comes down to developing an influencing strategy.
When you are creating this, make sure you cover all of these essential requirements:
- Build Greater Support. Maybe stating the obvious. Just make sure you’ve got this well covered rather than fall into complacency.
- Convert or Neutralise Opposition. If people are against you, make sure you’ve got something in your strategy to at least remove the risk they pose to your influencing goal. If there is no opposition, look again!
- Accelerate Progress. This is the whole point of the exercise, how to get things done faster? But, this shouldn’t be at the expense of meeting the necessary safety and quality standards.
- Proactively Manage Threats/Opportunities. Give equal consideration to opportunities rather than fall into the trap of just looking at the threats. When you do, this will stimulate further action in each of the previous areas.
- Protect Progress. Remember me saying how important it was about not being complacent about your advocates. Once engaged and on-side, continue to develop their interest and activity on your behalf.
- Keep it Simple. While complex strategies may be fun, simple wins the day in my book. It makes it more memorable, increases impact and maximises the chance that it will stay present in your mind, and other people’s minds too.
So, does your influencing strategy address all of these adequately?
If not, you have some work to do. Otherwise, you are likely to fall into the majority group of people who are wishing to influence rather than getting down and making it happen.