In this episode, Vince Mirabelli introduces us to the six worst types of stakeholders and shows us what to do if you have one of these stakeholders on your project.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • What the six worst types of stakeholders are
  • What to do if you have one of these stakeholders on your project
  • How to perform a stakeholder analysis that works

Show Notes

A stakeholder can singlehandedly make or break a project and there are some that are . . . less than cooperative.  People will behave in a way that promotes their own self-interest and sometimes that runs counter to what you’re trying to achieve in your work.  You’ll need to manage those people differently than that stand to benefit from what you’re trying to do.

There are six worst-of-the-worst types of stakeholder of which you should be aware and know how to engage and interact for best possible results.


Stakeholder #6: The Psychic

The Psychic is a stakeholder who knows (or at least thinks they know) what will happen and what needs to happen on the project.  They sometimes jump to conclusions about the solution and could sometimes take you down the wrong path.

You’ll likely encounter The Psychic right away at the beginning of the project.  They may be a very experienced person who tries to dictate what should happen based on their experience or they may be someone who is very “by the book” on how things should be done.

To deal with The Psychic, keep them engaged.  Take their comments into consideration and help them to understand that their ideas have some merit and we want to explore other ideas as well.


Stakeholder #5:Mr./Miss Resister

The Resister is someone who wants to keep the status quo and dislikes any kind of change.  They can be across a spectrum of mild resistance to outright withholding information and taking action to make a change effort unsuccessful. The two types of Resisters that are most problematic are those who resist outright and those who are two-faced.  Two-faced Resisters are stakeholders who communicate their support to you, but withhold needed information and do not cooperate..

To deal with the Resister, have a solid change management process in place and engage them in that process.  Keep them involved and in support of the change.

Make the change easier for them by breaking it down into smaller pieces or calling it a tweak or enhancement instead of a change.  Help them to understand why we’re making the change and what’s in it for them.


Stakeholder #4: The Career Climber

The Career Climber is someone who wants to get ahead and often work to prove their value.  This could even be someone on your team.  There’s nothing wrong with being a Career Climber, unless it’s at the expense of the project.

The Career Climber may undermine you, the project, and the team if it means getting ahead.  You may get doubletalk from them; they say positive things to you, but negatively about you or the project to others.

To deal with The Career Climber, figure out what they want and what’s important to them.  Perhaps you can involve them in some way that gets them what they’re looking for such as face time with the leadership team.  You can also have them own a piece of the project and take accountability.


Stakeholder #3: Mr./Miss Emergency

For this stakeholder, everything is an emergency.  Mr./Miss Emergency can derail your project at the last minute.  They feel that they’re not ready and any defect should bring the project to a halt.

Mr./Miss Emergency may also withhold information, thereby causing the emergency.  It may be a lack of engagement or purposeful withholding of information.

You can handle Mr./Miss Emergency keep them engaged and get someone of equal or higher level who is more level headed to have a casual conversation with them about their concerns and interaction (after having that conversation with them yourself, of course).  Leverage your stakeholders – especially those who strongly support you.


Stakeholder #2: The Bulldozer

The Bulldozer is often the most overtly disruptive and aware of what they’re doing.  They often don’t have good intentions or they’re unaware of what they’re doing.

Their actions may include yelling, throwing things, or inappropriately belittling you and the team.  They really want to be heard.

The Bulldozer likes to have an audience.  To deal with them, give them an audience, but one of your choosing.  Build an audience with those who support you and the project (especially stakeholders at or above The Bulldozer’s level).  This makes The Bulldozer hesitant to act out when they know the support you have from those above them.


Stakeholder #1: Conrad Hilton

Conrad Hilton refers to the personification of a character as portrayed in the show Mad Men.  Conrad would share his requirements and the team would create something that meets the requirements, but upon delivery, Conrad would tell the team that it wasn’t what he wanted.

His famous line is “You gave me what I asked for, but not what I wanted”.

This stakeholder doesn’t know what they want, has difficulty articulating what they want, or will just never be satisfied.  Sometimes this stakeholder is your sponsor.

With this type of stakeholder, you need to find a balance in how often you interact with them.  Determine what works best to feel that they are engaged and to give feedback.  The rapid feedback loops often used in Agile environments will help to make sure you’re building the right solution will also help.


Awareness of the different types of stakeholders and knowledge of how to engage and deal with difficult stakeholders will help you in your interactions.

Listen to the full episode to hear all of Vince’s advice on dealing with stakeholders.



Your Homework

Create a three-dimensional stakeholder map (2x2x4) to be aware of power, influence, and level of support for you and the project.  For the support dimension, identify your Key Supporters, Ambassadors, Critics, and Key Detractors and use that information to leverage your stakeholders as needed.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Vincent Mirabelli, CBAP, PMP, MBB

Vincent Mirabelli, CBAP, PMP, MBB

Principal at GPS Group

Vincent works with clients in the fields of project leadership, business analysis and Lean Six Sigma. He has many years of direct senior-level experience in various aspects of project life, including Project Management, Business Analysis, Business Process Improvement, and Enterprise Planning. Vince has successfully instructed and trained hundreds of managers, executives and project practitioner professionals to improve their understanding of project methodologies.

Thank you for listening to the program

To get more valuable content to enhance your skills and advance your career, you can subscribe on iTunes.

Also, reviews on iTunes are highly appreciated! I read each review and it helps keep me motivated to continue to bring you valuable content each week.