As IT journeys from the backroom to the boardroom, an IT leader’s success will increasingly depend on the ability to work as a true partner with the business.
Other A,B,Cs apply only within certain contexts. For example, when an IT professional is building support for project approval, he or she will need to be skeptical (an Attitude), perform Nemawashi, a Japanese term that is about building consensus (a behavior), and utilize the Madison Avenue Sales Method (a style of Communication).
In each case, the A,B,Cs help IT professionals succeed whenever they interact with their stakeholders. Many IT professionals and teams tell us these are really hard things to learn and follow.
Key #5: Stakeholder Relationships Must Succeed at Three Organizational Levels
Following the A,B,Cs is important because the IT professional or IT team interacts with stakeholders at so many interaction points. As digital transformation continues, these interaction points will multiply in volume, depth and importance. Stakeholder relationship success truly is a team sport.
To transform your organization, this new focus on stakeholder relationships must be brought to life in all three levels of your organization.
Level I: The CIO must deliver the visionary leadership that shifts the IT organization’s focus to stakeholder relationships.
Level II: The IT management team must deliver processes that focus on creating structured, valuable interaction points between IT and the stakeholders.
Level III: The individual IT teams and staff members must create successful engagement with their stakeholders by following the A,B,Cs for each interaction point.
This is a simplification, of course. For example, there are A,B,Cs that help every level of interaction with stakeholders, and members of the management team will be deeply involved with the formation of the IT team’s vision. But overall, this mapping provides a practical framework to get everyone in the IT organization to shift their focus to improving stakeholder relationships.
Stakeholder relationship success is all about realistically applying this shift—and not simply talking in loose, conceptual terms about the need to better engage your stakeholders.
Key #6: There Is a Practical Road Map to Stakeholder Success
It isn’t enough to have a conceptual understanding that stakeholder relationships are the new key driver of IT success. IT teams and professionals need a practical way to understand and put to work the ideas and methods that drive improved stakeholder relationships.
There are many books out there that provide a practical roadmap to building and growing successful professional relationships. I wrote one such book, The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders, to offer an IT-specific road map to follow that pulls all of these concepts together and allows IT professionals and managers to get started on improving their stakeholder relationships without requiring a custom consulting engagement.
the book lays out a three-part journey:
Part 1: Influence Begins With Credibility
The book walks you through the key activities and behaviors you need to establish a foundation of credibility—the basis for influence.
Part 2: The Essentials of Influential Communications
It reveals how to quickly improve your standing and influence with your stakeholders by addressing the biggest challenge faced by most of IT: communications.
Part 3 – Game Time
It teaches the specific tactics you need to succeed in critical situations and contexts in IT where you, as the IT leader, have the opportunity to shine.
Following this system takes work. But it’s worth it—on both an organizational level and on the level of your career.
Key #7: It’s About Your Individual Success
One purpose underlies improving your stakeholder relationships: Doing that helps you—the IT professional, manager or CIO—do better. When you focus on improving your stakeholder relationships, you will command more respect, leverage more influence, and increase the value you provide for your stakeholders, your colleagues and your company.
Focus on improving IT performance and you will make IT better for its own sake—and for the sake of the organization IT supports. But by increasing the value of what you provide, you also will enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding career.
It’s my wish that you follow this road to find increased IT success—and your own increased professional success—throughout 2017 ... and beyond.
Marc J. Schiller, the founder and managing partner of Rain Partners, is a leading voice on IT leadership and management. His book, The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders, discusses the most significant management challenges facing IT leaders today—and how to address them. Schiller's focus on stakeholder engagement, management frameworks and creative communications has helped dozens of IT leaders gain a seat at the management table. A former partner at PwC and global practice leader for IBM, Schiller has worked with, and learned from, CIOs on three continents.