One of the most frequent problems for executive coaching clients is the management of people and organizations with influence on his/her career. The influence can be directed to the client personally or to projects for which the client is responsible.

Google searches for ‘stakeholder management’ produce millions of hits. The standard approach to stakeholders seems to be check lists aimed at providing increasing amounts of information and clarity on the objectives, asking their views and responding to their concerns. As unanticipated stakeholders surface throughout the project the same approach is applied.

The problem is, such approaches may either not be implemented correctly or their underpinning concept misses the point, or both. The complexity of stakeholder relations was noted as number 2 of the top ten reasons for project failure by the Australian Newspaper. Such conditions have existed for decades world-wide. They are, as I have written in ‘why well managed projects fail’ the reason that executives so frequently seek coaching.

In spite of the good work done by many, stakeholder management remains a quandary and poses the greatest risk to any project, and also to the careers of executives and others. Perhaps it is reasonable to ask what does stakeholder management actually mean?

My answer to that question is that ‘stakeholder management’ really means the management of influence. What the management is seeking to achieve are conditions under which the influence can be positive or at least neutral to a project or a person. It then follows that we are looking for a broader category of stakeholders, who are better defined as ‘influencers’.

Influencers include traditional stakeholders and extend to more people and organization, some of whom will be known and others not. Many unknown influencers may be those who communicate rumor, office politics, or their concerns through others. They may be stimulated not by the value of the project but by their envy, jealousy, aversion to the project leader and a host of other motivations.

The coaching client must be helped to identify and understand these dynamics and then to develop strategies to manage the influence rather than the stakeholder. My eBook on this management will be released in May this year. It outlines a method to identify and characterize influence and illustrates an approach for the client to develop and test strategies to overcome negative influence and maximize positive influence. In the meantime, my web site has a synopsis of this approach which you are most welcome to review. I also offer working sessions and seminars on the method.

Please contact me for more information or arrange a time to meet. My email is: james@trieb.com.au, or call 0417669992 (+61). The website provides additional information and a contact form: www.trieb.com.au

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