This week I’m in San Francisco running my Busted to Trusted workshop as part of Stanford LEAD’s Me2We conference. With over 300 LEADer’s from 23 nations in attendance, it’s guaranteed to be a fantastic three days of inspiration, innovation, and implementation!

Why am I running my Busted to Trusted workshop at Me2We? Well, earlier this year after talking with several LEADers and project managers I found that many of you had the same issue, that you had problem stakeholders who were looking to derail your ideas and that you were struggling to get buy-in!

It’s a familiar problem so I thought I’d dedicate this article to the seven problem stakeholders that keep even Snow White awake at night and what to do about them!


Doc is the unofficial leader of the stakeholder group, he’s smart and often mixes up his words to confuse other stakeholders into getting what he wants. He secretly wishes he was the handsome prince in charge of the project and instead derails it until he gets what he wants.

How to work with Doc?

Managing Doc is all about his ego so find ways to feed it. He needs to know that you recognise his leadership role and that you are there to meet his needs. Build trust with him one-on-one rather than in a group and get his buy-in to ideas early or even better, let him table plans, so they are his own!


Dopey is the silent stakeholder who doesn’t say anything even though he can see what is going on. He pretends to be dopey to avoid confrontation and chooses not to speak.

How to work with Dopey?

Dopey stakeholders can be strong allies despite their desire to avoid confrontation. They make excellent sounding boards so run ideas past them to get them onboard.


Bashful is the well-mannered stakeholder, he’s kind-hearted, but shy’s away from big decisions and disagreements.

How to work with Bashful?

Keep Bashful stakeholders close to you, their general kind nature is helpful, and they are likely to advocate for your ideas once they are onboard.


The stakeholder that is hard to please, Grumpy frequently has one eye shut to avoid getting the full picture. One minute he seems to warm to you, the next he’s grumpy again.

How to work with Grumpy?

Grumpy is a high-maintenance stakeholder that takes a lot of energy to manage. Manage him through other stakeholders (e.g. through Doc) rather than facing him head-on.


Sneezy is the stakeholder that keeps relatively quiet until there is something that irritates him and then all hell breaks loose! He unleashes his power and blows your idea into pieces.

How to work with Sneezy?

Try and figure out what irritates Sneezy early and put things in place to avoid them. Waiting until he’s irritated is likely take more effort so be proactive!


He is the stakeholder that might as well be asleep (we’ve all had them!). Unfortunately, they have a habit of waking up at just the wrong time and being utterly clueless.

How to work with Sleepy?

Don’t leave Sleepy to snooze, if there are things you need him for then wake him up! He won’t like it, but it’s better than leaving him to wake up and then complain.


The always happy stakeholder can surprisingly be more trouble than he’s worth! He is engaging and enthusiastic but not necessarily helpful, and he is high maintenance with great ideas that can be distracting!

How to work with Happy?

Put Happy’s high engagement and enthusiasm to good use by giving him a particular project that adds value to your idea. He will throw his energy into it and be a model stakeholder for the rest of the group!

Copyright Walt Disney Company

Which problem stakeholders have you come into contact with and how did you build trusted relationships with them?

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