A leader is a dealer in influence. Her greatest challenge is to find ways to influence others. People first buy into the leader, and then they buy into the vision. The leader needs to win the support of all stakeholders. Firstly, she needs to win the support of her team for the vision. Then she needs to win the support of her upline – be this the board, the holding company or the shareholders – to the direction being pursued. This can be a challenge all of its own – especially when you know that your strategy is going to be 3 to 5 years in the making, and you are being pushed to deliver quarterly results. Influence at this level is often about what happens outside of board meetings or reviews. Leaders influence one conversation at a time – no matter how difficult this may be. Influence also means making sure that the expectations of the various stakeholders are managed, and making sure that key opinion-makers are on her side. This cannot be left to the formal meetings that we attend. It must happen behind the scenes in ongoing conversations in order to make sure that the right people are thinking and saying the right things about your team, your business and your leadership.
Who do you need to build a better relationship with? Who is the key to winning upline support for your strategy? How will you draw this person closer? How will you explore your ideas with this person outside of the boardroom so that you do not have to defend your strategy and tactics to them inside the boardroom? Who is key to winning the support of other opinion-makers? How could you win their support?
Do you have your team’s support for your vision? If not, why not? What concerns or reservations do they have? What fears do they have? How can you allay their fears and win their support? How can you make them an integral part of the vision and strategy?