Identify and utilize key opinion leaders when you’re building support for an initiative. Opinion leaders may not have a formal leadership position in the organization, but they are respected for their insight and expertise. They help group members make sense of organizational life, and they set the norms for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If opinion leaders express resistance, managers need to address their concerns and determine how to gain their endorsement.
In many respects, the “buy-in” of the opinion leaders is the most important determinant of whether programs succeed or fail. Once they are convinced, they will, in turn, influence others. The opinion leaders are clearly influential yet are often overlooked by change initiators.