As a leader, how often do you feel that you are expected to brag and beg to get the resources needed to be successful in achieving your organization’s mission? How often do your employees feel the same way about their careers and professional success?
Regardless of their type, organizations inherently are political entities. While some, such as those in the public sector, are more overtly political than others, internal and external politics seldom are far from the surface. Consider the politics intrinsic in these common scenarios:
Despite the fact that success depends heavily on their adeptness at navigating internal and external political processes, few leaders are willing or feel able to embrace that aspect of their jobs. One reason might be that politics in general have a bad reputation. For example, in a recent article, Washington Post columnist George Will quoted an individual who explained his reluctance to run for public office by saying, “Your parents warn you not to brag about yourself or beg, and what you do in politics is brag and beg.”
The fact is that while negotiating the relevant political system(s) effectively is part of an organizational leader’s job, bragging and begging are not necessary. Those who have been successful in navigating their political white waters engage effectively in at least four activities: (1) assiduously cultivating relationships, (2) learning and following the relevant political process(es), (3) demonstrating the value of the anticipated outcome to those affected, and (4) allowing stakeholders to make decisions along the way. Most notably, leaders who can show positive results communicate a powerful message. As St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean famously proclaimed early in 1934 when he predicted that his team would win the World Series that year, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” It turns out he wasn’t bragging.
Navigating the political process successfully without bragging or begging is a skill that can be learned and improved. To read about some time-tested, universal lessons in political acumen accumulated over the years by a fire chief who has been successful in guiding stakeholders through their political white waters, take a look at our article How to Succeed in Public Safety Politics without Bragging or Begging.
Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.
© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.