How To Influence Stakeholders

Influencing others is indispensable to effective leadership. From world presidents to parents dealing with recalcitrant kids, influencing can go a long way in turning the tide of events in the desired direction.

One of the most powerful qualities every Business Analyst should strive for is the ability to influence stakeholders. Business Analysts with the skill to turn things around by influencing others will certainly find it easier to achieve their objectives on the long term than those without this key skill. The benefits of being an influencer extend well beyond professional encounters and can be applied successfully to most life events.

So, how does a BA go about becoming a strong influencer? Here are some quick tips that can help:

1. Lead by example

If you want stakeholders to be on time for meetings, be on time. If you want them to respond to you on time, respond promptly to them. When they see that you do not hesitate to do what is necessary to get the job done, their confidence in you will increase and they will become open to listening to your advice. Getting them to listen and believe in you is a key step to influencing them. It’s difficult to ask people to believe in something they can see you do not believe in - either from your attitude or your words. Show them that the project is important to you and they will start believing in it too.

2. Build trust 

Influencing cannot happen without trust. One of the key ways to establish trust is by being transparent about every decision you make. Be open, honest and straightforward in your dealings with stakeholders. Once others can see that you have their interests at heart and are honest with them about outcomes (no matter how ugly these outcomes may seem), they will be more likely to follow your advice.

3. Don’t use force 

You are more likely to get people on your side of the fence if you appeal to their emotions instead of using force. No one likes to be ordered around, compelled or told what to do. You are more likely to win stakeholders to your side if you lead them to believe in your vision instead of relying on their bosses or those more powerful than them to dictate to them. If power changes hands and the tables turn, it could very well spell the death of your initiative. Appeal to their emotions instead.

4. Know your stakeholders

Stakeholder analysis is an effective technique for understanding stakeholder alliances and interests. Once you can identify what your key stakeholders stand for and develop a clear approach for delivering benefits to them, you will be able to bring them over to your side of the table eventually

5. Be clear about your goals

Share the benefits of your project with your stakeholders. People that know what’s in it for them are more likely to be cooperative than those who don’t.

6. Inspire confidence

Displaying confidence goes a long way in getting stakeholders to have faith in you. If they see that you understand the business and can talk to them confidently with cold & hard facts, they will be more easily persuaded.

What do you think?