A (not so) secret weapon for success and control over your own life: stakeholder management


I have long been thinking about writing briefly about stakeholder management. I've been working with leaders on this topic a lot in recent weeks. Without exception, the development of a stakeholder strategy has been an important moment in addressing leadership challenges, whether external or self-inflicted.

Although it is talked about a lot, many posts, articles and books have been written about it, almost every leader without exception has the need to talk about what it is and how to do it...

As I always say to the leaders I work with: you can't learn it in a day, you can't master it in a day. It's a muscle that you have to train, constantly. It takes some theory, but then a lot of practice, experience, especially in the beginning (but later on it doesn't hurt either) and it's good to have an objective eye, a mentor, an ally, with whom you can talk it over from time to time, strategize.

Because, of course, everything is different in theory than in practice. I have found that when it comes to defining who the stakeholders are and where they are on the map for a situation or a goal, it is always difficult. But the good news is that the initial obstacle is easy to overcome and with a certain mindset and the right techniques, anyone can easily become self-reliant.

When is stakeholder management useful?

The short answer is: anytime, in any situation. 🙂

The longer answer, illustrated with some examples:

🧿 As a leader we feel overwhelmed by the waves, too much pressure, too many expectations, everyone wants something else, we feel we are not in control of our own lives, we have no time for anything, but we want to push and protect our boundaries

🧿 We move into a new position and we want to establish a successful and efficient operation from the start

🧿  We want to shape the expectations of ourselves, not only at work but also in our personal lives.

🧿 We are facing a difficult and challenging period and want to build a line of defence, a system of alliances and prepare for the challenges ahead at stakeholder level, before we start.

🧿 We want to successfully sell, follow through and close any project or initiative.

🧿 We want to proceed, improve in our career and proactively create opportunities for ourselves.

🧿  We want to be successful as a team within an organisation, or manage the expectations placed on us. 

And we could go on.

And what most people forget: the most important stakeholder is YOU! Start the analysis with yourself!

Why a preliminary stakeholder analysis is important from the very beginning in a role (or maybe even before)?

  • It helps you to allocate and conserve your energies - if you have the right strategy, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary games, setbacks and inconveniences. You can put your energy to good use and manage it, setting up a balanced energy management system. It helps in self-protection, setting and maintaining boundaries, helps you maintain focus, prevent burnout.
  • It helps you to allocate your energies - you focus on who is really important and it allows you to focus on what is really important and a priority for you.
  • It gives you the opportunity to communicate consciously from day one!
  • One of the most important things you can do for your own and your area's success. Any good programme, initiative or project can fail if stakeholders are not properly identified and managed!

It helps you keep your life under your control. You are in control.   

I know, I know, these sound like big words, but I always experience how good it feels (for me too !) when a leader or a team, in a situations that seem impossible for them, can maintain or regain control, shape expectations and defend their boundaries.

How do I determine who the stakeholders are?

Stakeholders are not always the same, and not necessarily (only) those who you feel have the most power and influence in your organisation or in your life.

Every situation is different and it is always worth running through the analytical flow. You may get different results and stakeholder lists.

How can we analyse our stakeholders?

Based on influence and interest.

Influence here means influence on your results, on the success of your project, area, organisation, life situation, goal.

The interest: how much he or she has an interest in your success, how important you are to him or her. 

Always create a strategy for your stakeholders based on our analysis!

Based on the goal we have set, we will create a strategy for the selected stakeholders, combined with a communication plan that can be used for typical or expected situations.

Then it is just a matter of testing and practising. Again, and again. Experience is worth its weight in gold. 🙂