By now the story is worldwide. The Gupta family have left SA for Dubai and Oakbay Investments cannot find a banker and 7500 jobs are at stake.

What is the implication of this issue on stakeholder relationships and management? The process between a President, his advisers and connections has been scrutinized and found to be wanting.

Scrutiny all of a sudden showed how the Guptas influence stretched widely and how they could possibly influence State decisions – so called State Capture.

This raises quite a few questions – How come it took so long to detect this capture? Why were there no stakeholder profiling and mapping processes in place in Government? What are the lessons for companies and stakeholder managers?

Many organisations know that building relationships with its various stakeholders are important to its overall reputation and success. But how do you successfully manage these relationships in an era where the focus is on ethical behavior, honesty, transparency and trust?

For many years we have known that it is easier to do business with those people we like. We even choose a plumber based on that instinctive feeling!

But where do you draw the line between corrupted relationships and good business candor? Society nowadays seems to believe that there is no longer a place for intangibles. Every relationship has to be managed on the basis of clearly defined criteria, such as depicted in a SLA. What are THE requirements?

For instance if I place an advertisement in only one of the South African daily newspapers, I am favoring them over the competition. Why? How? Was it because of favoritism? Immediately the question arise: “Was the advertisement placed because of kickbacks?”

No longer can stakeholder relationships be based only on feelings and “like”. There has to be substance. Other stakeholders will ask for that substance to be clearly communicated. As the world has changed, so has the role and expectations of stakeholders.

Years ago stakeholders were quite prepared to let organisations tell them their story and they implicitly believed it. Then as change occurred, there was a movement away from “tell me”” to “show me” (sustainability reporting). But now stakeholders (especially in Europe) expect verification by outside neutral auditors of a company’s stakeholder management processes.

The continuing corporate governance sagas and unwanted publicity has raised doubt in stakeholder’s minds. This doubt inevitably will cause more careful scrutiny by the Media, Government and other stakeholders.

No longer can you just look at the pieces but you need to look at the glue that holds relationships together. By definition, a relationship is not one person – it’s a minimum of two. And it’s not just any two people, its two or more people trying to accomplish something. So it’s not enough to look at the two people, we have to look at the space between them where their interaction takes place.

As the ancient Sufi teaching says: You think because you understand one you must understand two, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand AND.

How do you maximise that “And?” What should a successful stakeholder relationship consist of? How do you maximise the relationships with stakeholders? How do you keep them “above board?”

What criteria should you use to evaluate and manage your stakeholder relationships by? If you want to obtain that answer, attend my Stakeholder Reputation Management program 11- 12 July.