Updated: Dec 21, 2020
In his book Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art, researcher Ed Freeman describes a business’s relationships with stakeholders this way:
“To create value for stakeholders, executives and entrepreneurs must see business as fully situated in the realm of humanity. Businesses are human institutions populated by real live complex human beings. Stakeholders have names and faces and children. They are not mere placeholders for social roles. Most human beings are complicated. Most of us do what we do because we are self-interested and interested in others. Business works in part because of our urge to create things with others and for others. Working on a team, or creating a new product or delivery mechanism that makes customers’ lives better or happier or more pleasurable all can be contributing factors to why we go to work each day. And, this is not to deny the economic incentive of getting a pay check. The assumption of narrow self-interest is extremely limiting, and can be self-reinforcing — people can begin to act in a narrow self-interested way if they believe that is what is expected of them, as some of the scandals have shown. We need to be open to a more complex psychology — one any parent finds familiar as they have shepherded the growth and development of their children.”
Where is the humanity recognized in today's crisis-struck business environment? We are bringing the sum of our experiences to every role and illusion we play out, professionally and personally. If, as leaders, there is only the strategic approach of quelling the masses and avoiding the loudest and messiest land mines, then lost is the attention to what matters most. Where was the buy-in by the stakeholders originally? Forgetting their humanness means glossing over their aspirations, expectations and emotions relating to what they devoted their lives to doing as part of the "team", the "community", the "company". Sculpting a new understanding of the stakeholder, means recognizing the feelings and motivations of the group, who by the way, has as much a claim/stake in an organization, what it does and how it performs as the leadership does, by the names of its members. Creating culture, supporting morale, addressing inclusivity and diversity, minimizing workplace toxicity at all levels - this is the way through the murkiness of crisis and uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility. Contact Inspired Action at Work today to set up a consultation to discuss your organizational challenges. Organizational Ecstacy is a paradigm-shift away.