A critical aspect of the Stakeholder Influence and Mapping Processes (outlined in Influential Leadership: Chapter 7) is determining the extent to which trust exists in your stakeholder relationships. This means, do you trust them, and do they trust you?
For instance, potential indicators that they do not trust you include …
- Being cautious and acting suspiciously.
- Being dishonest with you.
- Partial disclosure of information
- Misinforming or omitting important facts.
- Giving you false deadlines.
- Asking others to do what they have already asked you to do.
- Going behind your back.
On the other hand, if you see the following, trust is likely to be quite high …
- Telling the truth, even if it hurts (them or your).
- Sharing sensitive information with you.
- No secrets, especially with insights which you could use to their disadvantage.
- Being predictable and reliable — and managing your expectations when they can’t deliver.
- Doing what they say they’re going to do.
- Giving bad news early.
These are only some initial clues to get you started.
Think of a key stakeholder that you have within your sights and estimate the level of trust they have in you based on the clues shown here. Now, put yourself in their shoes and estimate the level of trust they feel you are giving them based on your performance against the clues given above.
Do this for all of your key stakeholders and then think of what action you might be able to take to raise the levels of trust within your relationship with them.
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Diagnosing Your Opposition
One of my favourite phrases relating to Stakeholder Management is, “if you don’t have any opposition, you aren’t trying hard enough” (refer to Chapter 7 of Influential Leadership). While I am not suggesting that you should go looking for opposition, if you are ambitious, it is important that your plans and ideas are strong enough to provoke disagreement, or at least vigorous debate.
When disagreement arrives, it is often veiled in a cloak of assumptions and faulty communications. So, it is important when deciding how to respond to pause for a moment to check out what could be going on. Even if you cannot figure out the root cause, going through the process will highlight the gaps in your information.
If someone is opposing you, it could be due to one or more of the following…
With simple frameworks and processes, this is about taking a careful approach to your work as an influencer, and making sure you achieve economy of effort and create maximum movement towards your goals. Once you know what your strategy needs to be, the actions become straightforward and easier to execute.
The Fallacy of Rational Argument: Influencing Mistake No. 4
Time and time again we meet people on our workshops that have spent lots of time and energy building their business case. They have stacked up the numbers and convinced themselves that it works. The numbers speak for themselves — it’s a no-brainer. But somehow they just don’t quite cut it. There is nothing wrong with getting the numbers right, but expecting them to do all the work is often a recipe for problems.
Cecilia Falbe and her colleagues studied this and found that reliance on rational persuasion, at best, achieves compliance rather than commitment. To get commitment, or rather enthusiastic buy-in, you need to combine the numbers with what they called an inspirational appeal. These appeals talk directly to the target’s emotions. They resonate with their values and get them excited. The combination approach according to Falbe, and also in our experience, makes for a highly effective strategy when influencing people.
It seems that numbers are not very exciting. Only when the numbers connect to the emotions do things get interesting…