Stakeholder Analysis

Diagnostic 6: Stakeholder Analysis

One of our clients was the new Division President of a global technology company who had been hired from outside of the parent company. In his first four months (Wave 1), before we began working with him, he conducted over 100 individual interviews of people he considered to be key stakeholders. He engaged us just as he was beginning the Immersion Stage. As he began engaging others to participate in the organizational diagnostics processes, he was also evaluating these stakeholders. Their actions and interactions revealed who they were, what their underlying motives and predominant personality characteristics might be, and what value they could be to the new executive. Over the coming months, the politics, hot button issues, and differences in perspectives and priorities of each key individual became clearer.  He used these insights to begin to influence others during the Immersion Stage and to gain their commitment, cooperation, and alignment during the Wave 2 implementation of changes. When necessary, he also used these insights to overcome resistance or create circumstances that forced compliance when all other influence efforts failed. He also learned that he needed to replace several of his managers.

An executive coach can serve as an unbiased sounding board and lens to help the executive assess each stakeholder. The executive coach can bring structure to an otherwise informal, ad hoc, or haphazard assessment process and make it more rigorous, penetrating, insightful, and valuable.

For example, regardless of what the stakeholder says, what do his or her decisions and actions indicate are his or her priorities and motives?  What can we learn from others who have interacted with him and observed him in the past?  How does he or she prefer to influenced: by logic and data, by appealing to their values, or finding a way to help them achieve a key goal or satisfy an enduring need, such a prestige, recognition from peers, or the acquisition of specific authority or power?  

Taking the Initiative to Build Rapport, Understanding, and Credibility

By having a deeper understanding of key stakeholders and opinion leaders, the new executive will be better at engaging and influencing them during both the Immersion diagnostic processes and the Wave 2 implementation of changes in critical organizational capabilities. While the content of a typical stakeholder analysis at first blush does not appear to be rocket science, the rigor of taking time out of the new executive's busy schedule to reflect on what he or she is doing with these stakeholders results in a significant return on investment in effective influence over time. The executive coach can also apply several different types of assessment frameworks, such as leadership style, information processing style, or motive profiles to identify opportunities for the new executive to adapt his or her style to the style and preferences of each individual he or she is attempting to influence.

The executive coach will also typically push for forward calendar commitments by the new executive to meet with these stakeholders with the purpose of better understanding them and their imperatives. Otherwise, "the urgent often overtakes the important" and the meetings get delayed or never happen and the relationships are never developed.