As you increase your focus on the development of stakeholder engagement, two things become apparent:
1. The capabilities needed to drive stakeholder engagement are also those that build organisational capability.
2. Stakeholder engagement strengthens as more staff develop leadership and communication and the organisation gets better at fostering learning and change.
We can deliver programmes to support the development of these capabilities. They in turn support stakeholder engagement, organisational development and influence the development of your culture.
These images are three leaders that we admire. John Elkington (left) coined the term “triple bottom line” and continues to be a thought leader, Muhammad Yunus, founded the Grameen Bank and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Ray Avery was the “New Zealander of the Year” in 2009 for his work in the development of social businesses. We believe that everyone can be a leader and developing leaders is vital for improving stakeholder engagement.
Leadership - learn more
Leadership development is a priority for enlightened companies. We want to help you create champions for stakeholder engagement. As more people take on leadership, your company will become stronger, and people will be more engaged.
Notice in this diagram “envisioning” is used rather than “vision.” This infers that the leader doesn’t impose a vision on others but co-creates the vision through the reinforcing processes of envisioning, engaging and enacting. Thus as you and your staff interact both internally and externally a dynamic vision emerges, a vision that will be supported by a greater number of people. This is the way to grow leadership in your company.
Leadership is best grounded in good character.
Alongside this central idea are four other ideas:
everyone can lead
leadership is about vision
leaders continually learn
leaders build relationships.
If you work on one or more of these ideas, you will develop as a leader.
David Garvin tells us “if your rate of learning isn’t greater than the rate of change you are going to fall behind”. In an age of commodification of goods and services, your company’s ability to learn may be your only sustainable advantage. Organisational learning supports stakeholder engagement by providing the tools to learn from stakeholders.
Organisational learning - learn more
Organisational learning is not professional development. A learning organisation will acknowledge its own learning disabilities. The answer is not in “fixing” its people or discarding them for fresh ones. The answer is in developing the capacity to know how to harvest the collective intelligence of the company and be alert to the processes and behaviours that inhibit collective intelligence. Organisational learning processes and practices need to be very pragmatic. Complex solutions to encourage organisational learning. You may have already seen the Harvard Business video on organisational learning. Here it is again – some key points follow: The three building blocks of organisational learning mentioned in the video are: learning processes supportive learning environment leadership They state that earlier attempts to establish learning organisations have not resulted in concrete outcomes because they weren’t pragmatic enough. They also focussed on senior management, rather than fostering learning throughout the organisation. Amy Edmondson emphasises the need for concrete tools. And watch out for the tools and processes that are recommended in the video (see when closing this box). If you want our assistance to enhance your company’s ability to learn, please contact us.
Here’s Ray Avery. He has modelled excellent stakeholder engagement in working with the people of Eritrea and Nepal to establish world class medial manufacturing facilities.
Communication is another core organisational capability that requires continual development. The trend has been the move from “telling” to listening and dialogue. Your communication champions will be those who have the skills and knowledge to engage stakeholders. Supporting your staff’s development in communication is another win-win – they can benefit your company by more effective communication oth externally and internally.
Communication - learn more
Engagement is communication. And stakeholder engagement aspirations call us to more dialogue based communication, replacing outmoded forms of one-way communication where appropriate. A communication model supporting better engagement is the “shared meaning” model (from Sandra Bennett and Susan O’Rourke). You reach shared meaning when you are able to appreciate the other party’s perspective. You probably won’t wholeheartedly agree, but at least there has been listening and learning and learning on both sides. These are skills that people can learn, but they are supported by beliefs, values and attitudes. You can only take on another perspective if your beliefs values and attitudes are expansive enough to do so. To establish shared meaning we need to be able to connect with the beliefs, values and attitudes of those we are communicating with. This can be achieved by seeking superordinate beliefs and values that you share with the other party. For example, if stakeholders approach you with environmental concerns, you can first relate to them possibly as a parent or local resident yourself. You can also ask how enhanced environmental performance might actually advantage your company.
Adaptive capacity (change)
Possibly, your greatest challenges have been creating the change required to keep you up with, or ahead of the game. Often change initiatives are stymied because change isn’t handled well. Lasting change is enabled by growing champions. And effective change processes draw heavily on leadership, learning and communication.
Adaptive capacity - learn more
Harvard’s David Garvin tells us “if your late of learning isn’t greater than the rate of change you are going to fall behind.” It is not only those that drive change that need to be effective in leading change. Change capability is a must for every staff member. This means that your staff accept change as a constant and develop adaptive capacity, so crucial to leadership and change. You may have seen Dr Peter Cammock’s 3E model of leadership on our leadership page – the model also embodies change capability. If leadership practices embed this model in your processes, your company it will be much more adaptive and change capable.
And here is a fuller version of the model, showing the change dynamics. Note how leadership, learning, communication and change are all embodied in this model.
Thus change capability is enhanced by pursuing stakeholder aspirations and the leadership, learning and communication processes that support it.