All business leaders want to build on, expand and sustain their company’s success. And insightful ones know that engaging their internal stakeholders is vital for assuring that there will be buy in and ownership throughout the organization to achieve ambitious (or even basic) goals. While most leaders usually have explicit frameworks for other internal processes, they often do not have a clear engagement action plan.
You must create concrete structural support. This can’t just be an individual initiative but must be woven into the fabric of how your company operates internally. To do so, you have to develop systematic mechanisms that value and reward stakeholder collaboration.
There here are some core fundamentals. Creating trust is absolutely foundational, which you can build by listening and being open to other’s input. I have helped many organizations try these steps, making course corrections as they engage and learn what works best for them.
In a TEDx talk I gave in Geneva this year, “Adversaries to Allies” I used an example over 35 years ago that I chose because connections forged in the 1970s still yield amazing results today. Anyone who’s interested to hear it can view the following video:
Essentially, four groups who were bitterly antagonistic – government leaders, community organizers, environmental activists, and the logging industry – came together on a sustainability initiative long before the term ‘renewable resource’ was in the common lexicon. How was this possible?
Because we helped them all be absolutely clear on exactly how they’d benefit. And then we had to remind each stakeholder – at many times through the process – to refocus on the clarity of why they chose to engage. This seems so obvious, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen collaborations fail because people simply weren’t really clear to each other – or even themselves – about their expectations.