Connecting with your stakeholders

June 14th, 2019 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Leadership

StakeholdersIn today’s organisations most of leadership is not exercised through hierarchical structures but rather through a complex network of relationships. Results are obtained by getting a diverse group of people to collaborate with you.

I am constantly surprised by the number of my clients who don’t really understand this and who have therefore not developed nor the strategy nor the skills to manage those relationships.

Barry Oshry’s work on organisational dynamics has highlighted just how easy it is for people in organisations to misinterpret the behaviours of other people who work in different parts of the organisations, and then react accordingly. Too often we let our faulty perceptions determine the manner in which we approach people whose collaboration we need.

Sincerely, what’s it like in your world?

The key to building constructive relationships lies in questioning your interpretation of reality and finding out what is really happening. The best way to do this is developing a sincere curiosity about the lives and work of the people you deal with. It is really helpful finding out the answers to questions like these:

  • When you wake up at 3.00am in the morning, what is worrying you?
  • What is the main thing you are trying to achieve?
  • What organisational pressures are you under?
  • What is the most important thing for you?
  • How are the organisational dynamics playing out in your part of the organisation?
  • What motivates you?
  • What is happening in your life outside of work?

Obviously, you just don’t go up to your nearest stakeholder and hit them with questions, you find the answers to these, and other relevant questions, over time. Almost all people react well to someone who is sincerely interested in them. They tend to become more relaxed and more open, and this is fertile ground for achieving collaboration.

Me Too

Relationships are a two-way street. It is therefore important that your stakeholders also understand what it is like to be in your world. You therefore need to communicate the answers to all the above questions so that the other person also understands your context.

Nothing like a good coffee

There is an art to these types of conversations and good leaders work on developing their ability to manage them. Always look for ways to have a more relaxed conversation, over a coffee or a lunch. These conversations are the oil that makes relationships go well.

Being clear on who your stakeholders are, dedicating time to building relationships with them and improving your skills in these types of conversations, are key aspects of leadership in today’s complex organisations.

How are you doing in this?


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