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How to Manage Multiple Stakeholders in Executive Coaching by Anita Stadler, PhD

Mar 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Business Coaching


If you are providing coaching for a corporation or business, you must identify and satisfy all of the stakeholders involved.

Uncover all stakeholders.  A stakeholder is defined as anyone who feels they have something to gain or lose based on the success of the coaching engagement.  The executive you are coaching is the primary stakeholder.  The client’s immediate superior is also a stakeholder; in fact that superior may view themselves as your real customer.  Depending on the level of your client, that superior could be anyone from a manager to the board of directors.  In large organizations, a human resources professional may screen and hire executive coaches, and therefore is a stakeholder.  The client’s employees are stakeholders.

Be aware of all agendas.  Unless the client has contracted with you directly, you need to understand the possibly-conflicting agendas of the various stakeholders and be able to manage them effectively.  An astute executive coach knows that the client is ultimately responsible for the results of coaching, but some stakeholders may not understand that, and therefore the responsibility to manage the stakeholders’ expectations may fall to the coach.  Executive coaches must be skilled at asking questions that will bring to light the varying expectations of all stakeholders.

Decipher organizational dynamics.  Balancing the needs and expectations of all stakeholders successfully throughout the engagement requires awareness of organizational dynamics and the ability to graciously navigate inappropriate expectations.  Never make the mistake of coaching in a vacuum.  Your client is part of a dynamic organizational system and you must coach with the knowledge of how human systems respond to an unexpected change in one member.  Will this organization actually allow your client to change and be perceived differently, or is the behavior that your client currently exhibiting serving a function, however dysfunctional, in the organizational system?  What would allow a changed perception?

Add to your skill set.  If you would like to build your own skills in this area, talk with experienced executive coaches about how they have handled complex stakeholder issues.  Seek additional training in organizational dynamics, team development, and change management if you realize that you are not coaching with awareness of systemic impacts.

Your thoughts?  What difficult stakeholder challenges have you successfully addressed?  How has your ability to read organizational dynamics allowed you to coach more effectively?

Anita Stadler, PhD coaches Christian corporate executives who want to connect their career and their calling. She is also a full-time executive coach and leadership development consultant for a Fortune 100 corporation.  She can be reached at (714) 952-0995 or For more information, see

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