In both our Finding Your Why and Council Surge Interactive Workshops, we talk about the importance of working with stakeholders. Stakeholders help us as leaders realize our potential, make meaning of our experiences, and achieve our goals. But, many times, we only turn to them when we need something or when something goes wrong, which does not maximize their role in the success of ourselves and our organizations.
Making the most of this relationship requires some work but the return will be great. Let’s talk about how.
- Identify the right stakeholders – There are so many folks on your college campus and in the community who can help you, but the right stakeholder is likely right in front of you. Hint – they are likely your organization’s advisor, your supervisor, or someone you consider a mentor. They understand you and/or your organization better than anyone else, so why not engage them? Other additional stakeholders could be your student activities or fraternity and sorority staff or professors or other staff on-campus who have the same interest. Start with identifying one and then begin to expand.
- Get to know your stakeholders – Now that you have identified who they are, take some time to get to know them one-on-one or as a group with your executive board. Ask questions to get to know them like: what interests in you in working with me/us, what excites you about leadership, what role do you feel you can play in my/our success. Giving them the floor will help you understand their motivations which will lead to your trusting them more in the long run when that accountability conversation comes later
- Share your goals and vision – After you get to know them, it is time to share with them your goals and vision, whether they are for yourself or your organization. Tell them what you are hoping to achieve, how you hope to do it, and help them understand how they can help you get there. Connect what you learned about them to your goals. This connection will help them show up in a more impactful way for you.
- Be open to their feedback – Part of a valuable relationship is being able to keep open communication a priority, which includes constructive feedback along your journey. Know they are coming from a good place because you took the time to share your vision with them. If you aren’t getting enough feedback, ask them for it! Your willingness to hear it will do wonders for the relationship.
- Have fun! – This relationship has the potential to outlive your college experience, so balance the conversations around leadership with opportunities to make fun memories. This brings the relationship full circle.
It is clear these individuals are so vital to our success. If you follow these steps, there is a much higher chance you will achieve your goals because you have someone in your corner along the way.