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Who are Your Stakeholders? What are Their Values?

One of the big questions you’ll hear asked a lot in business is: who are the stakeholders? That is, who has a vetted interest in this topic? Stakeholders are usually the ones with some say over how something is done, or who will be impacted by something. For most business decisions, it’s critical to consider stakeholders’ needs, values, and priorities. In many decisions, the business’ customers are the primary stakeholders, and considering their needs, values, and priorities is how you make sure you’re serving your customers.

Did you know that you, personally, also have stakeholders?

It’s true. Think about it: who in your life, both personal and professional, is impacted by what you do and by the decisions you make?

Your spouse. Your kids. Your boss. Your coworkers. Your church members, neighborhood basketball team, offroading club, and play-date group are all stakeholders as well.

What are your stakeholders’ values?

That is, what do they care about? What is it you provide to them, and how might your decisions impact them—either positively or negatively? How do your stakeholders define success, and how do you contribute to that success?

Obviously, not all stakeholders are created equal. Your immediate family are going to have a lot more say over you and your life than, say, the group that you go kayaking with on the weekends. So in considering your stakeholders’ values, spend the most time thinking about your most important stakeholders, digging the deepest into their values, needs, and priorities.

Seriously: have you ever asked your spouse, What does success look like, in our lives? How do I contribute to that success?

In many ways, each of us is a little business unto ourselves. Our customers are the people we support—yet few of us ever take the time to truly understand what those customers need from us. I had a colleague one time who was killlingthemselves, trying to land more work and bring in more, and steadier, income for their family. When it all finally got to be too much, they sat down with their spouse and said, “I don’t think I can keep it up.” The answer? “I never wanted you to. We were making enough, and I just wanted more of you.” My colleague wasn’t addressing their stakeholders’ needs, values, and priorities, because they’d never asked.

What does success like look? How do you see me contributing to that?

Two incredibly powerful questions that, when answered, can provide your career—and your life—with an amazing amount of context and direction.

Why not start asking those two simple questions this week?

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