Working with stakeholders

Getting your relationships with stakeholders right – your 'foreign policy' – is vital.

From forging constructive and open partnerships with stakeholders, to negotiating difficult agreements with others and even to identifying competitors, the Guardian personifies political savvy and influence.

The first task in managing stakeholders is identifying who the key groups are and what they want. What are their priorities? Are they aligned with your priorities? How important is a particular stakeholder to you?

If they like your work, and the direction you're headed, thats great. But how do you influence stakeholders who might block your progress? You’ll need to really understand where they’re coming from, and let them know what you are trying to achieve, so that you can jointly create new possibilities that are better for both of you. This, and more, is covered in our top tip "How to influence stakeholders".

There's convincing research evidence that we humans are not as good negotiators as we think we are, but by being constructive and rational (not manipulative and emotional) you can improve the team’s chance of success. Successful negotiations depend on trust, and the political culture of your team and organization will enhance or undermine the way negotiations are handled. As a leader, your skill in managing politics and leading by example will help to create a healthy culture of trust and integrity rather than a manipulative culture that undermines relationships with others.