A final piece of thinking in this step is how you will know you have achieved the desired influence. For many of the example Influencing Goals I gave earlier, it is clear from the wording that the board either signed off the proposal or they didn’t. But ones like becoming recognised as Samantha’s successor are a little more difficult. How would you know you are recognised as a successor? The more clarity you get, the more progress you will make. So if this applies to you, see if you can come up with some evidence criteria for your goal similar to this…
Influencing Goal: Become widely recognised as Samantha’s successor: as evidenced by…
Although clarity is important, don’t let the lack of it delay you too much before taking some action!
Over the years, I have found this to be one of the most important steps in the process where people can lose ground and benefit by trying to apply the Stakeholder Influence Process to unhelpful goals and challenges. Of course, this is not to say that the goals in themselves are not useful to strive for; it is simply that they are difficult to use as a focus for your influencing work.
The time and effort that you devote to clarifying your Influencing Goal will be well rewarded. I remember one director I was coaching who paused to consider what he needed to influence in order to achieve his goal. He soon became clear and went off to engage a stakeholder who was against his ideas. Later, he reported back that the stakeholder had easily agreed when he was given a clear request. Apparently, he had been fantasising about lots of things my client wanted which were actually untrue. Assumptions have a lot to answer for!