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This is the fifth in a series of posts which articulate fundamental shifts in leadership paradigms from the 20th to the 21st century.

The primary and eminent considerations and rights of shareholders were established in law and practice in the 20th Century. Investors and founders had final say and their concerns (often short-term) were top of mind when leaders made decisions. Shareholders had to win at all costs. Their concerns shaped leadership choices and leaders acted to curry favour with them, often at significant cost to themselves and to other parties.

In the 21st Century, organisations are increasingly viewed from a more systemic perspective, seen as critical parts of a broader ecosystem, on a journey through time, travelling with a large number of internal and external parties whose interests are directly or indirectly impacted by organisational actions. Stakeholders are those who have skin in the game that these organisations and their leaders are playing. They have a deep vested interest in the actions and impacts of these organisations.

Of course, shareholders matter, but self-serving shareholders are dangerous. Astute Leaders pay attention to all the stakeholders impacted by their choices. They understand interdependencies and recogniSe and respect the symbiotic relationships that sustain the ecosystem. They especially protect and attend to the needs of the “little guys”.

Reflection question: As an Astute Leader, how can you more actively consider and work in partnership with all your stakeholders, for mutual benefit? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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