Most of us begin our careers as technical or functional specialists who are individual contributors. When we get promoted to a team leader or supervisory role, and then later on to a managerial and executive role, we must transition from specialists who are individual contributors to leaders who contribute primarily through the work of others. The higher we move up the organization, the greater our dependence on the help and goodwill of others to get work done and accomplish organizational goals.
The leap from specialist to leadership can be a tough challenge for many as it requires learning how to get things done through others. Skills in planning, organizing, coordinating, controlling, as well as communication skills, interpersonal skills, motivating skills, networking skills, to name a few, become more critical to success than the technical or functional skills through which we built our earlier success.
Leadership is a journey and leadership coaching can help the budding and perhaps struggling new leader or leader in a new role. One leadership coaching tool is Relationship Mapping developed by Scott Blanchard and Madeleine Homan discussed in the article “Coaching Tools for the Leadership Journey” by Ken Blanchard, Madeleine Homan Blanchard, and Linda Miller. The Relationship Mapping Tool and process involves these five steps:
1. Identify your key goals and milestones
Define clearly what must be accomplished and how these will be measured.
2. Create a relationship map for each goal
For each goal, identify the key persons/stakeholders who will be affected by efforts to achieve the goal and achieving the goal.
3. Analyze the key persons/stakeholders in your relationship map
Answer these questions for each key person/stakeholder:
* What are their main goals and objectives?
* How will it serve them for me to succeed–or fail?
* What is needed from them?
* How can they help–or hurt–the project?
* What is the person’s thinking style?
What will be needed to most effectively communicate with and influence him or her?
* What attitudes does the person have about me?
Is there respect, credibility and trust?
* How do I feel about the person?
Is there any judgment or bad history to complicate things?
4. Identify who are more/most important to the success of the goal or project
5. Create an action plan for each critical stakeholder
Create a mini action plan for deepening you relationship with each critical stakeholder. Actions can include going to the person and asking for advice, calling or emailing the person to get an opinion on something, spending more time with them to get to know them better, getting their inputs about the goal or project over or coffee or lunch, and other interactions that can help deepen the relationship.
Pay attention to how they see things, understand their point of view, what they focus on, what is their approach, and so on.
In another post, we will look at a similar tool focusing on stakeholder analysis for communications planning.