The four previous columns in this series were designed to help prepare you for collecting vital insights into the views of senior executives and key leaders across your enterprise.  As part of that process, you have laid the foundation for establishing an ongoing relationship and future collaboration with them, which will help enable you to become an effective influencer. This month’s column is focused on what to do with the baseline data you have collected.

The matrix format spreadsheet for collecting your interview results (covered in the January 2016 Leadership & Management column) provides you with a quick reference document for use in your data analysis and strategy development.  It is vitally important to maintain the spreadsheet as a living document that gets referred to on a regular basis and should be reviewed with your select group of interviewees on a quarterly basis. (Note: If you are going to become an effective influencer, you will need to maintain these relationships, and you can’t effectively do that once every year or so… as long as you show flexibility, creativity and sound judgement, these regular meetings will keep you engaged with the business and viewed as a valued contributor.)

The data you gather, update and maintain will serve you well, not only as a trusted collaborator… but when inevitable budget cuts are announced.

As you review your interview results, it is helpful to group them into key topic or risk categories. The various categories of results will assist you in focusing on potential solutions to issues that have been raised, policy or procedural changes that may be required to resolve vulnerabilities or reduce complexity, and programs or processes that may need to be eliminated or potentially added to resolve a conflict or fill a gap that has been identified. A critical next step in the development of your operational roadmap of strategic and tactical measures you will be recommending to senior management is to make sure you run the results and your recommendations by the executive to whom you report.

Once you have your boss’s blessing, it is time to make the rounds with each of the executives you interviewed. This time, however, you will be providing them with the consolidated and anonymized results of the interviews along with your roadmap. One word of caution: it is wise to avoid providing any executive with the interview results attributed directly to another executive as doing so could cause irreparable harm to your credibility. The most important core values we trade on in this profession is our integrity and our credibility, so don’t get duped into destroying yours... unless, of course, you were planning on looking for another job anyway.