Part 2: Your Road to Creating Your Own Transformers

From Stakeholders to Transformers: Engaging Executives to Drive Success

By Alain Paolini, Practice Director, Talent and Organization Performance

“From Stakeholders to Transformers: Engaging Executives to Drive Success” is a two-part article series that first explores and identifies what makes a transformer, and then provides actionable advice on how to create your own transformers. In the first article of this series, the five key traits of a transformer were defined and explained.

So how do you get your stakeholders there? As I emphasized previously: Transformers are MADE, not born.

Even if someone doesn’t match the exact skillset outlined in the previous article, there is likely still potential for them to become a powerful transformer. You can play a vital role in helping your stakeholders become true transformers by following this advice along your journey.

The five rules to follow when creating your own transformers:

1. Develop a relationship before you need something

Depending on a workplace’s culture, relationships can often be transactional and based on task completion rather than genuine connection. Instead of simply picking someone who you think would be a good change maker and assigning them this role as a task or deliverable, invest in the relationship first. Share information with this individual, reach out to them regularly, and take the time to get to know them.

2. Find what drives your transformer

Everyone has different things that motivate them. Find what fuels your transformer and run with it: Is it information about your project? Do they care more about recognition and access to future opportunities? Analyze the landscape and invite them to key events. Is it to see your project as a way to accomplish their own objective? Is it more about playing their role to achieve a larger purpose? Or is their key motivator something else entirely? Find out what drives them, what they care about, what resonates with them, and invest in that.

3. Learn how to set and tell the story

Keep in mind that every transformation is a story waiting to be told, and good stories have the following components:

  • A challenge to address: what business problem are you trying to fix?
  • A vision for something better: what is the successful outcome you’re trying to reach?
  • Key contributors for and against: who is in your coalition of the willing? Who’s not and do you need to win them over?
  • A roadmap: what are the three to four key milestones?
  • A little bit of magic: what makes your project special? What will compel people to contribute?

How are you going to make this initiative impactful enough to compel a stakeholder to step up into the role of transformer? Tell the story.

4. Continue to make progress and provide value

No matter what, an initiative needs to be making progress. Think of progress as your fuel; it’s what establishes your credibility and makes people pay attention.

5. Create the opportunity for the transformer to step up

The final, and arguably most important rule for this journey, is creating an opportunity for your transformer to step up into their role. You’ve invested in the relationship, you’ve set the story, you’ve made progress, it’s time to step back and give your transformer the space they need to excel. This may involve additional efforts to prepare them and provide guidance, insight, and clarity.

Build a composite transformer.

Even if you follow all these rules and execute the journey with few flaws, it’s unlikely that you will find all the traits of a transformer in one single person. That’s okay! Find what you need and who can deliver it. Some stakeholders are better at vision, others at energy or coalition building. It helps to look for these traits, but oftentimes different people will bring different things to a project.

Look around at work, who’s displaying the traits you need, who could be a transformer if you helped them?