Can you say Stakeholder? Pieter de Villiers can!

I was quite impressed with a statement made by the new South African rugby coach, Pieter de Villiers. He kept on using the statement that we must focus on the needs of all stakeholders.

Now, either he was well briefed, or he will be a fresh breeze. It certainly sounds as if he will bring in another focus. Up till now it was common practice for many of the Springbok rugby practices to be closed to the public and media just in case there were All Blacks spies "spying". De Villiers has stated that he wants busloads of schoolchildren to attend these practices. "If there are spies, so be it"!(That is sound thinking – With the Internet, mobile phones, cameras, etc, can you really hide information today? There is an apt Chinese proverb that says it all: "A Whispher in the ear can be heard miles away!)

"We must take rugby to the people". I could not help but smile when I read this. "Take that administrators!",.. sitting in your offices.

When you work in Stakeholder Management, you will very soon find out that to balance the needs and interests of all stakeholders is never an easy task. It is like being a perpetual juggler! However it is crucial to develop strategies that take exactly those needs into account.

Remember the days when one of the previous coaches complained that ticket prices were too exhorbitant. How long did he last?

I for one wish Mr de Villiers all the luck in the world. The job of the South African rugby coach is like holding a poisoned chalice. But not if your thinking and action are sound.

Mr de Villiers and the SA Rugby Board, please remember that Reputation risk emerges when the reasonable expectations of stakeholders are not met when it comes to performance and behavior. Your predecessor won the World Cup with his team. We love this, but if you are a realist, you all realise that transformation is also necessary.

Balance is key but so is boldness. Be bold Pieter, South Africa and your reputation matters!

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