The challenge of... engaging stakeholders

Leaders increasingly realise that success or failure, or achieving business objectives, depends on, and is also defined by, maximising support from (or at least minimising opposition!), or winning the hearts & minds of, a potentially long and varied list of key stakeholders.

Organisations often articulate their approach to this challenge as…

  • managing stakeholders
  • stakeholder engagement; engagement of stakeholders
  • ways to engage with stakeholders
  • influencing stakeholders
  • stakeholder management
  • corporate diplomacy
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Defining a stakeholder

A “stakeholder” can be defined as “someone that is both affected by and can affect what you are trying to achieve.” Others might say “parties with a legitimate interest in your initiative”. They are also referred to as “allies”, “constituencies” and “decision-makers”.


Stakeholders can be characterized by their level of engagement or buy in, their level of influence, and their level of power.


Stakeholders can be prefixed in a variety of ways:

  • key stakeholders; important stakeholders; major stakeholders
  • affected stakeholders; interested stakeholders; relevant stakeholders; potential stakeholders
  • internal and external stakeholders
Examples of stakeholders
  • Board members
  • Business partners
  • Customers
  • End users
  • Government agencies
  • Industry associations
  • Legislators
  • Local communities
  • Management team
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Senior management
  • Shareholders
  • Suppliers
  • Trade unions

Real world challenges

Prendo’s customers face many challenging situations when engaging stakeholders:

Winning hearts & minds is a critical challenge for us
We are working with an increasing number of stakeholders, over whom we usually have little or no authority
We don’t always know how to prioritise our stakeholders, or how to balance their opposing interests
Stakeholder engagement, both internal & external, is one of the key strategic challenges that our business leaders face
Our leaders work in an increasingly complex world, with environmental, social, ethical and sustainability dimensions to consider
We are much better at planning the technical aspects of our projects compared with the stakeholder (human) aspects

Advanced simulations can help leaders address these real world challenges

At Prendo, we believe that the complex skills and deep understanding that are needed for engaging stakeholders are best developed with advanced simulations that provide accelerated experiential learning and the opportunity to explore the underlying cause and effect models.

Talk to us to understand if our simulations can address your specific challenges

Learning to engage stakeholders

To address the challenge of engaging stakeholders, leaders need a combination of skills (know-how) and understanding (know-that), in the same way that the driving test combines the practical and the theory:

leaders need to be able to…

  • identify key stakeholders
  • prioritise and classify key stakeholders
  • develop detailed stakeholder analyses or maps
  • balance conflicting stakeholder interests
  • initiate a stakeholder dialogue
  • consult and communicate effectively with different stakeholders
  • work with stakeholders to ensure their involvement
  • quantify and maximise stakeholder support

as part of an overall approach to or process or strategy or plan for engaging stakeholders

leaders need to understand…

  • the wide range of interests and motives that can determine stakeholder attitudes
  • the dynamics and complex nature of ‘social systems’
  • what stakeholder engagement plans should include
  • the numerous factors that can be included in a stakeholder analysis
  • what “success” means in multiple stakeholder contexts

Engage stakeholders more effectively
with these simulation workshops:

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