Stakeholder management is an art. It’s the art that allows a senior leader to shape their vision, get buy-in and support for execution and ultimately, deliver the results that make a difference to the organisation.
Stakeholder management is relationship management. Like any other relationship, it’s based on trust.
Trust is built on alignment of interest, credibility, and familiarity.
Underinvesting in any of these three ingredients will show up when you need your stakeholder’s buy-in the most.
Looking back at a problematic stakeholder relationship, you will be able to easily spot where the underinvestment was. Or, if you are in a new role, the first 6 months are critical to establishing trustworthy relationships to accelerate your path.
Invest in knowing, understanding and building a relationship with your stakeholders by asking them these questions:
What inspires you in your role, this organisation, and in this industry?
What is important for you every day in your role?
Where do you spend your efforts?
What concerns do you have?
How did you get connected to this organisation?
What legacy would you want to leave behind, if you could choose?
What do you see of high importance in my role?
How do you see the outputs of our work connecting?
What shaped you as a professional?
How would you like to engage in the future?
Most people believe that if there is an alignment of interest, they will be able to push their vision forward by getting buy-in from their stakeholders. It’s not enough, especially as organizations move to operate as network organisations, in which authority is just one of the many factors leading to a real impact.
Needless to say, building relationships is one thing. Delivering consistently on your commitments and maintaining the relationship is another.
Where are you, on a scale of 1-10, in mastering the art of building stakeholder relationships?