How To Influence Stakeholders

Wouldn’t you be at an advantage if you were able to change the minds, opinions and actions of people who can make or break your project? Projects can only be as successful as your ability to influence stakeholders to see things in a certain way. From the seemingly trivial to the imperative, BAs should be able to influence stakeholders. Think about these…

  1. When morale is low, you can influence your team members by showing your enthusiasm and motivation.
  2. When a project seems like it’s going nowhere, you can take steps to inject a positive vibe to it and encourage others to look on the bright side.

Achieving your goals on the project may well depend on this.

Influencing is a much sought-after competency in BAs and leaders. You need influencing skills to gain the support of key stakeholders. It’s all about getting others on board with your proposal.

Here are some quick tips to get you started on the journey to getting “your way”:

1) Lead by example

If you want others to behave in a certain way, you should be ready to get in line. If you want stakeholders to show interest in your project, why not start by being enthusiastic about it? Don’t set double standards by expecting others to do what you are either unable or unwilling to do. Leading by example is key to servant leadership. Unless you have a track record of success, it will be hard to influence others to follow suit. According to Albert Schweitzer, 

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

2) Act with transparency

When you make suggestions or proposals, it should be clear what your motives are and what you intend to achieve. If stakeholders feel that you have nothing to hide, they will be more inclined to trust you and you will be in a better position to influence them to take the desired course of action. Communication is key here. The more stakeholders understand your motives, the more likely they are to let their guards down, creating an opportunity for you to influence them.

3) Use power with caution, if at all

It is much easier to gain support by seeking cooperation rather than using power to get what you want. Though power can give you a temporary advantage when you have run out of options, use it too often, and it will lose its effect. Whatever cooperation you get from others by instructing them or drawing on the powers of organizational hierarchy can only be temporary. Influencing can help you build a motivated team capable of launching itself into success much more effectively than the chains of power and instruction.

The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority ― Kenneth H. Blanchard

4) Know your stakeholders

If you do not know what makes each stakeholder group tick, you will not know what ideas they will consider, accept or reject. Stakeholder analysis is a fundamental aspect of BA work as it helps understand how to manage stakeholders effectively. If you know those who are not completely on board with your project, you will know who you need to approach for assistance and how best to manage them. Think about what’s on each stakeholder's agenda and what challenges they face.

5) Be clear on benefits

When you tailor your proposal to include the benefits to each stakeholder group, they will be more inclined to listen to what you have to say.

Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way. ― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

How do you influence stakeholders?

Picture Attribution: “Leadership Leader Shows Direction Manipulate And Powerful” by Stuart Miles/