It’s all about your stakeholders

Ultimately, stakeholder management is what running an organisation is all about. Effective stakeholder management helps you do a better job, both in the short and long term.

So what are stakeholders?

Well, anyone who has a stake in what you do, is a stakeholder. Anyone whom you are dependent on to be successful and anyone who is dependent on (or impacted by) what you do. This means that your stakeholders could be:

  • Manager(s)
  • CEO
  • Direct reports
  • Colleagues
  • Customers/clients
  • Suppliers
  • Internal business partners
  • External business partners
  • Interest groups (linked to your industry, organisation etc. – this could for example be unions, lobbying groups and protest groups)
  • The general public

Yes, the list is long – and this is not even a complete list. As we’ve mentioned before, transparency is becoming more and more important, and expected. This means you need to think about how to best manage at least your key stakeholders with enough transparency to be able to get the support you need to do a great job and deliver great results. Like with all communication, it’s about meeting the receiver where they are, rather than just communicating from your own perspective.

So how do you manage stakeholders?

Here are a few simple steps we recommend.

STEP 1. Identify your stakeholders

You need to have a clear picture of who they are so that you can approach them in the most appropriate and useful way.

Have a think/brainstorm and write down the names of all your (key) stakeholders.  This can be individuals or groups of people.

This can be done with your team, if you want to identify the stakeholders of the team.

Don’t forget that you may have different stakeholders for different projects or initiatives as well.

STEP 2. Consider how ”important” they are as stakeholders

Not all stakeholders need or want the same kind of attention and input. A couple of useful assessments is for example to think about

  • the amount of power they have over what you do (Are they in charge of the money, are they the sponsor? Or have they very little or no power? Or somewhere in between?)
  • the level of interest do they have in what you do (high interest, low interest or somewhere in between?)

As you review the assessments you’ve made, you’ll quickly see that different stakeholders need to be managed differently.

Those with high power need to be managed very carefully. If for example they are in charge of the money, they may need frequent updates on the ROI (return on investment) of your initiative. Or they need to be updated on what the effect of your work/project is having on the organisation as a whole, to see its importance and continue to sponsor it. And those will low power may need less frequent or less detailed updates.

If they have high interest they could be given more information (especially if they also have high power), while if they have relatively little interest, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information. And if they have very little power over what you do, and also very little interest, you simply should not focus too much on them.

STEP 3. Assess the current quality of the relationship

Once you’ve identified your most important stakeholders based on power and interest, assess what the quality of the relationship is like now (e.g. on a scale of say 1-5, where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent) and what you want it to be. If you for example realise that your relationship with a major stakeholder is only a 2 and you need it to be at least a 4, then this prompts you to think about how you can best build the relationship with that stakeholder.

STEP 4. Get to know your stakeholders

If you are going to be able to manage them effectively, you need to know and understand them. Here are some questions to help get you started:

  1. Which are X’s goals and objectives?
  2. What’s important to X? What motivates X most of all?
  3. How does my work connect with X?
  4. What does X expect from me?
  5. What information does X need from me? And how do I best give that to X, what channel should I use?
  6. Is X a supporter of me and what I do? If not, how can I change that to create greater support? (linked to point 4 above)
  7. How can I best ensure X’s continued support?

Please keep in mind that all stakeholders are different. You can’t make assumptions on what your stakeholder may want. You need to tailor your approach to your key stakeholders and the steps above will help you get started on that.

STEP 5. Create a Stakeholder Management Plan

Get specific on how you will communicate with and manage (at least) each of your key stakeholders. Here’s a template you can use.Stakeholder-Management-PlanDownload

STEP 6. Assess the impact on other stakeholders

Consider the impact of actions towards one stakeholder on another. Some actions may be positively perceived by one stakeholder, but negatively by another. If so, how will you overcome that?

STEP 7. Deliver on the plan – consistently

Stick to your commitments on how you will work with your stakeholders. Be accountable.

STEP 8. Follow-up and evaluate

How is it going? Are your stakeholders getting what they need from you? Are you getting what you need from them? What adjustments do you need to make?

STEP 9. Adjust and continue

Update your Stakeholder Management Plan and continue managing your stakeholders carefully and effectively.

Remember, success is all about your stakeholders. They need you and you need them.

Want to build great relationships? Then start by assuming positive intent

Everyone is different. Everyone is their own unique person.

Just because they don’t think or feel like you, that doesn’t mean that they are wrong. People typically do the best they can. Rarely do people intentionally set out to annoy others or create conflict. If somebody says or does something that makes you feel tension, take a step back and look as objectively as possible on the situation. Assume that they have positive intent. If you only do one thing, let it be this one – assume positive intent.

The positive intent may not be clear to you as you don’t always have the full context or particular experience of the other person. They may have had something happen which has unsettled them, or they may be stressed or under pressure. We don’t always know what is going on in people’s life. However, just because it’s not easy to grasp what the positive intention is, it’s fair to assume there is one. 

I don’t believe that people wake up in the morning thinking “who can I treat poorly today?” Always assume positive intent.

Mary-Francis Winters

When we are intentionally curious and accepting of others, it’s easier to assume positive intent. Our mindset is shifted to a state where we want the best for the other person. We can then more easily be accepting of differing views – and see the value in them. And break down barriers, build relationships of trust, collaboration and courage – where we can make mistakes, learn and innovate, without being harshly judged for daring to try something new or maybe just daring to speak up and challenge.

My failures have been errors in judgment, not of intent.

Ulysses S Grant

Challenging, differing views, when seen with positive assumption, create better dialogue, more perspective and better solutions. 

Create the best possible relationships – assume positive intent.

Let’s embrace the certainty of never-ending Change

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy

Do you ever wish things could remain the same for a while? Do you feel like there’s too much change? Do you wish it could just slow down, even if just for a while? To give you a chance to catch up?

Yes, we probably all have those wishes at times.

Change is all around us though, it’s our constant companion – and for reasons such as fast technical development and globalisation – the speed of change is only getting faster.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wayne Dyer

Don’t worry about it. Relax. Make change your friend. No change is necessarily good or bad – it’s only how we choose to look at it that makes it so. So we may as well look for the opportunities in change. Look at change as a door opener, a valuable companion that creates opportunities.

When change is a given, when we cannot change that, then we need to accept it, embrace it and make it work. We need to become proactive – because through proactivity comes a sense of control, which has a calming and strengthening impact on us.

It is also good to question change, to challenge it when needed, to explore and find answers – because there will be times when a proposed change is not the best solution. But when change is a given, when we cannot change that, then we need to accept it, embrace it and make it work. We need to become proactive – because through proactivity comes a sense of control, which has a calming and strengthening impact on us. This in turn makes it easier to deal with the change.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Alan Watts

To be able to deal with change, to lead and manage it, is an evergreen leadership skill, which is more important than ever in our fast-changing world.

If you are serious about developing your leadership capabilities for the future, then focus on how you can lead and manage change better and better.

Here are 5 ideas to get you started:


Become an outstanding listener and communicator. Great, effective communication is a must when it comes to change. Communicate, communicate, communicate – keeping in mind that you have two ears and one mouth – communication is a two-way street. Listen first, then talk.


Be a great role model for change. People do what you do, not what you say. Think about the impact you have on others; how do you talk about the change? Are you positive, negative or neutral about it – and how does influence others? What are you doing to make it work?


Engage and involve people in the change. Change is often perceived as scary and it can feel pointless if we feel like it’s being done to us. By engaging others in a change that affects them, you minimise that fear and you increase the chances of the change becoming a success.


Show courage. It’s hard to know the correct answer all the time as things are changing, and yet you need to keep moving forward. This takes courage – to try things out, to test and evaluate, to adjust and improve – and to keep moving forward.


Anticipate and lead change. Look around you; be aware of the internal and external environment you are in. What are the trends in the market? What are your competitors doing? What could be improved and changed? Look for opportunities to lead change, and empower your team members to do the same.

Change is indeed inevitable, and that’s just as it should be. You may as well welcome it, embrace it and become a master at it.

Change brings opportunity.

Nido Qubein

7 Tips for steering your Team through the unexpected

Smooth sailing is rare – we are always surrounded by some degree of change.

But at times it’s more choppy than usual; more uncertain than the norm. Leading your team well in those circumstances is more important than ever. Team members may feel worried, angry or frustrated and not perform to their best. So what can you do when you find yourself in turbulent times?

Here are some practical solutions, which you can adapt to your specific context:

1. Meet regularly

Have regular quick check-ins – face-to-face, on video call or phone. Make people feel that they are not alone, that you support each other and are stronger together. Have some fun together and make time for laughter and casual conversations too.

2. Find answers to questions

Uncertainty and turbulence create questions. What will this mean for us? How will we resolve this? How will I be affected? Make sure you create frequent opportunities to talk as a team, so you understand concerns and hopes – and where possible, provide answers. Follow these four principles of dealing with questions transparently:

  1. Try to answer the question.
  2. If you don’t know an answer, say so.
  3. If you cannot answer the question now, make a commitment for when you will and honour it.
  4. If you know the answer but cannot say currently, say so and make a commitment to share information when you can.

3. Focus on strengths

Everyone in a team contributes in their unique way. Give each other feedback based on individual strengths and attributes. When people are able to use their strengths, they are energised, which is a vital resource when faced with uncertainty, as it can give a real boost of innovation and determination.

4. Focus on your purpose

Remind the team of their purpose and how important their role is within the organisation. Stay focused on that purpose and get on with the task at hand. It’s easy to slow down when faced with uncertainty. Keep the team moving forward. Adjust goals, plans and tasks if needed, making sure the team keeps progressing.

Don’t waste time in the “uncertainty void.” Show that it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn (from what went wrong). Use the disruption as a way for the team and its members to develop.

5. What could go right?

There is never just one way of looking at a situation. You probably know people who have expressed that some of their greatest learning, insight and growth have come as a result of (unwanted) change.

Help your team to reframe a situation by exploring what it could bring from an optimistic standpoint. Ask team members to share the moments when they’ve experienced a good result during a time of uncertainty. Use a crisis to pull the team together. Create new solutions together.

6. Balance bad news with good news

When things are turbulent, the news we encounter is typically not very positive, and endless exposure to bad news has an effect on people. It’s hard to stay optimistic when all you read and hear is on the negative side. There is always more good news than is immediately noticeable. Make a point of finding the good news and sharing it with your team – and encourage them to do the same.

A company that banned bad news from the workplace during the recession found that it increased performance. People were of course allowed to read what they wanted to outside of work, but they decided that it wasn’t the focus they wanted people to have while at work. The results? Higher productivity, employee engagement and sales.

7. Celebrate Success

To celebrate successes is always important, but particularly so when facing turbulence. That’s when the pat on the back and sense of achievement can really make a difference. Say thank you. Celebrate the milestones and encourage continued effort. Take care of each other. Be proud of your team – and show it.

A version of this article was first published in City AM in 2017.

Video: Celebrating our 7th book award in style – in virtual style

We are so very proud to have received our 7th* book award, Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards’ Leadership category!

This is the first award for our third book “The Leader’s Guide to Impact” published by Financial Times Publishing 2019.

We live in unprecedented times, all around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is horrific, impacting people and societies everywhere. Our thoughts are with everyone who is affected.

And in all of this, it is important to stay strong, hopeful, resourceful and grateful. Not every day will be brilliant but together we can do a lot to make each day matter, taking it a day at time, finding solutions to the challenges we face.

On Friday evening we enjoyed this virtual book award event. It is particularly important to celebrate at this time, we all need to notice the things to be happy and grateful for. And we, of course, couldn’t do it without Julian and Rich, who have cheered us on from the start.

AND we wanted to share it with you too, as a reminder that we all need to stop and value the good things in life, especially at a time like this.

Cheers! Stay safe and strong! x

*Other awards:

’The Team Formula: A Leadership Tale of a Team who found their Way’, MX Publishing 2013. has received two awards: London Book Festival runner-up & Indie Book Excellence Book Awards Finalist.

‘Leading Teams 10 Challenges 10 Solutions’, FT Publishing 2015, has received 4 awards: Book Excellence Awards Winner, Best Book Awards Finalist, Axiom Business Book Awards Bronze & International Book Awards Finalist

Book Award for The Leader’s Guide to Impact

We are very excited and proud to share that our third book “The Leader’s Guide to Impact” has been honoured as a Book Excellence Awards Finalist in the Leadership category.

These Awards honour books that have high quality design, writing and market appeal.

Our purpose with writing leadership books is to support leaders around the world in making the most of their unique leadership style – and that’s why this award is so important to us – it allows us to support more leaders through greater reach.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

You can buy the book in all online bookstores including

Amazon UK 

Amazon USA

The Book Depository (free international delivery)

Bokus Sweden

Amazon Germany

Amazon India

Booktopia Australia

Loot South Africa

Work/life balance or not?

Christine wanted to encourage her team’s work/life balance, so she kept telling her team members to not work too late, but instead go home at the end of the working day and spend time with friends, family and on hobbies. The team members were really pleased, they had a very positive reaction to this message and responded by leaving the office shortly after 5 most days.

However, after about a week, they noticed that they had received late evening emails from Christine almost every day. This confused them, as her actions didn’t match what she was saying. Why is she working late while telling us not to? She’s clearly not meaning that we should go home at five. So what else is she meaning or not meaning? Can I trust her?

To top it all off, Christine decided to reward a couple of people who had been working all hours on a project, late at night and into the weekends. Now the team members were really confused.

This short story from ‘The Leader’s Guide to Impact’ (FT Publishing 2019) highlights how easily good intentions become confusing platitudes if not also role modeled. The old expression “walk the talk” still rings true.

Ultimately, people don’t do what we say, they will do what we do. Leadership is contagious.

And as leadership is the act and art of influencing, we are all leaders.

Want to be part of a smarter team?

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

Collective intelligence and collective decision making equals the ability to influence more.

When a a team or leadership team works well together, with a shared purpose that everyone believes in and owns, something almost magical happens – their impact is multiplied, their teams work better with each, communication flows more effectively, goals are aligned and the risk of confusion and overlaps are almost completely eradicated.

So if you are part of a leadership team, or a team, and want to have greater impact together, better goal achievement, then look for the common purpose, what you all have in common. What do you all want to achieve?

And then talk about that and reach agreement on a shared commitment to that purpose. Make that commitment a promise.

Whenever possible, connect your goals to those of your peers. If there are competitive behaviours between you and your peers, then having connected goals will make those competitive behaviours impossible to carry on with. If each team member can be goaled not just on his/her individual performance but also the performance of the team overall, then it brings out collaborative behaviours instead.

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation.

It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration.”

Robin S. Sharma

Want great  team or leadership team success? Then get together with your peers and work on how to work together and how to have greater impact together. Create a team success journey plan and start taking steps together. Don’t leave it to chance, take action.

For more info on personal and leadership impact, check out our latest book “The Leader’s Guide to Impact” which serves as an easy-to-follow strategic and practical tool for individual leaders and leadership teams alike.

7 steps to team success in 2020

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

What can you do, as a team, to make 2020 our best year yet?

Getting a team to work well together doesn’t happen by chance. It requires intention, commitment and a focus on both structure/task and behavioural habits.

The start of the year is a great time to stop for a moment with your team and discuss:

“How do we best work together to best achieve our goals, and make this a truly great place to work? How can we make this year our best year yet?”

One crucial ingredient in that dialogue is to create a Team Charter. 

A Team Charter is a document that describes the purpose, framework and agreements of the team. Creating a Team Charter is a shared process (not just a leadership task), hence making it a powerful and visual shared commitment. A Team Charter that is created by everyone, is owned by everyone and therefore is carried out by everyone.

Each Team Charter is unique to the team, but typically it includes at least the 7 steps:

  1. Team purpose and clear links to the organisation’s vision and purpose (how you as a team make a difference)
  2. Expectations and goals (what are you expected to do and achieve this year?)
  3. Roles and responsibilities (who does whatwhat are the overlaps and collaboration opportunities?)
  4. Skills and expertise needed to fulfil purpose (is there anything new you need to learn and/or how can team members’ skills/expertise be shared?)
  5. Resources needed to fulfil purpose (g.what data and tools do you need to do a great job?)
  6. Operating guidelines: behaviours and how the team will work together to fulfil the purpose (g. how should you treat each other, how should you communicate, help each other, spend time together?)
  7. Signed agreement/commitment

Some seem obvious and almost implicit, don’t they? Well, then ask yourself as a team; why aren’t we doing it then. And if you are doing it, challenge yourself on how you can make it even better, strive for more together. You may have these 7 steps in some implicit form, it is also important to make them explicit for all to agree to openly.

So yes, as you reflect on these 7 steps, some are probably already in place, but it is still crucial to review them as a team to reconfirm or indeed update your shared agreement on those important ingredients of teamwork. The steps that definitely need updating each year, for every team, are 2, 6 and 7.

Once you have documented the team agreements steps 1-6 (and any other topics you have chosen to include as a team), make sure each team member gets invited to sign the document (step 7). Signing the Team Charter agreement signals real commitment and cements it. You can even call it a team promise – after all, a promise feels even more powerful.

January focus: Work smarter, not harder

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders Blog

A new decade, a new year, a new month – what better time to have a proper restart?

This is the time to do it, don’t let the autopilot run your life and career, make sure you are in charge of your journey through the year.

As you kick off 2020, stop and think about how you spend your time and how you can work smarter, not harder. What do you need to focus on this year to achieve your goals and ambitions?

If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one

Russian proverb

Part of this is about TIME LEADERSHIP (not ‘time management’ as it’s about more than just managing your time). It is all about self-leadership, leading yourself entails planning your time well, blocking time for the important stuff too, so the urgent stuff doesn’t win every time.  It’s about thinking short- and long-term.

It could look like something as simple as this for example:

The other part is about HABITS & ACTIVITIES – being outcome focused rather than task focused. Ask yourself:

  • What should you STOP doing? (dare to challenge practices that don’t deliver for the overall outcome)
  • Is there anything you should START doing instead?
  • What should you CONTINUE doing? To celebrate your strengths and success and to ensure you appreciate what you already do well.

And then finally, ask yourself:

How will you stick to your commitments of working smarter, not harder?

Who could support you? Who else could you involve, to help you succeed?

And could there a win-win aspect here too, that helps both parties succeed?

Here’s to a smart 2020!

Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.

Peter Drucker