Executives and business leaders used to be very clear on who our stakeholders were: customers, investors, and employees. Maybe a few strategic partners in the channel or supply chain too, but that was it. Simple.

Today, it’s as if every company big or small has to adopt everyone and every cause on Earth – even the Earth itself – as a stakeholder. Because, let’s face it, everything’s connected, right? If you dig deep enough into the supply chain, you eventually get down to things that impact the environment.

Well, yes and no. Maybe giants like Apple, GE and Walmart are big enough to have that kind of global impact. The rest of us are taking on way too much and getting more than a little full of ourselves. The only thing the rest of us have on that big a scale is our planet-sized egos.

Don’t get me wrong. We should all be good corporate citizens or just plain Earth citizens, for that matter. That’s just common sense.

We should all recycle and not pollute. Follow the rule of law. Leave things in better shape than we found them. Treat each other with respect. Do the right thing. All the good things that civilized people should do … but don’t. That alone would be a remarkable achievement.

If everyone would just focus on treating the stakeholders in their circle of influence as they should and quit acting like they have some enormous global footprint when all they really have is the illusion of one – a blog and a Facebook page – the world would be a much better place.

Image credit: Flickr user Didriks