Managing Barack Obama and other stakeholders

President Obama has, it’s been reported, chided Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbull for not keeping him “in the loop” after learning that a Chinese company had leased the Port of Darwin after reading about it in The New York Times.

“Let us know next time” said the President to the Prime Minister. The episode illustrates the significance of appropriate stakeholder management. Granted, the matter was a relatively minor one in world leadership terms, but the audience – the President – is a hugely influential one. Pardon the plug, but we specialise in handling such relationships effectively at CRP, and as we tell clients, the more important the stakeholder, the more frequent the communication.

Managing stakeholders properly is the mark of a well-intentioned organisation. That is, organisations which are driven solely by profit tend to give this part of corporate relations too little attention (if any at all). More than that, however, engagement with stakeholders is valuable – in terms of strategic impact, the bottom line and team morale. Much has been done on this, but Nadine Hack’s thoughts, which you can find here are particularly good.

Stakeholders need attention; their place in the organisation’s pecking-order will dictate how much to give. These disparate groups take an interest in the organisation, so it’s vital that businesses reciprocate and demonstrate mutual feelings.

Returning to the Port of Darwin, the politics are not lost on me and I appreciate that Mr Turnbull may have been fully aware of Mr Obama’s interest, but chose not to tell and I’m sure we’ll hear more over coming days. However, if that was the game plan, it’s good practice to weigh up the cost of not telling.