To gain influence, people have to change. An individual has to decide to make the change (albeit an often unconscious process), and this could be with reluctance or willingly. That means they have to be either forced or motivated to do what you want them to do or think what you want them to think. If your goal is big enough to warrant it, consider how you are creating a compelling and inspirational vision of the future for people to get excited about. To maximise motivation to change, a vision needs to be…
- Exciting: With so many strategies walking the corridors around your organisation, where’s the buzz that will make stakeholders sit up and take notice of yours? If you are struggling to get excited about your goal, why would anyone else?
- Touchable: Stakeholders are able almost to believe it has arrived. This is a difficult one, but unless people can believe it is capable of being realised, they will be reluctant to put effort into helping making it a reality.
- Logical: Not normally a word you might associate with vision, but whatever vision you are putting out it needs to be credible, and people need to believe it’s a good thing to aim for, i.e. it fits in with everything else, or it’s the appropriate way of disrupting the status quo.
- Beneficial: Along with stakeholders being able to almost touch your vision, they also need to feel they will fit into the new world and will be a beneficiary. While some altruistic individuals may accept their own demise, they are rather few and far between! And when I say benefit, I really mean that they will benefit more from the realisation of your vision than from any competing visions vying for their attention and buy-in.
Write down your vision in a single page flyer which could be used to get people excited about your goal. Even if you don’t use it, the exercise will sharpen up your thinking and inevitably help you to engage in a more visionary way.
If you are finding it difficult to develop a compelling vision, consult more widely about how others imagine what the world would be like with your goal achieved. You can also start to imagine it from other people’s perspectives. How might a customer describe the world with your goal achieved? What about other teams within the organisation — how might they describe it to their friends?
Test your vision with a few friends and get their input on how to make it more exciting or compelling. But don’t let them discourage you from your ambition!
If you cannot make a big goal compelling to stakeholders, you are likely to be faced with an ongoing struggle to influence and keep influencing them to stay on your side. So invest in some professional help. PR, Marketing or Communications teams could work wonders for you. Most people in large companies only consider using these people for their external customer facing work, but everything they are skilled at can be deployed internally too.