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Competitve Politics

Once upon a time a Presidential Election was based on respectful differences of ideas, statesmanship and visionary good for our country and the world. The carnal  viciousness of the current presidential debate is unprecedented in our lifetime. Consider the impact of the national dialog in this election year on the corporate/organizational world. By unconscious osmosis, the way we lead, as executives, changes. Ask yourself a few simple questions -- just hear your own answers truthfully rather than the way you want to hear, think you "should" hear or any of the myriad of methods we use to hide our truth from ourselves.

  • Is there one individual among your direct reports who contacts you, knocks on your door if you are in the office and have a door, more than anyone else?
  • Does the information you receive from your direct reports range from "it's OK" to "glowing"?
  • Do members of your direct report team come to you about the bad behavior or incompetence of other members of the team?
  • Have you even once heard negative feedback from a credible source outside your directs about your direct report team?

If you being completely truthful with you, answered "yes" to any of these questions, it is highly probable negative competitive politics are keeping your directs both individually and as a team from achieving plan much less their best. As we continue our due diligence, a few more questions for you to ponder.

  • How have I changed the way I'm leading and why? External/internal ambiguities and changes? Pressure from other parts of the organization? The world offers a plethora of perplexities that impact us. Which ones are most prominent in your thoughts?
  • What are the upside and downside of how I have changed the way I lead? What can I do to maximize the upside and mitigate the downside?
  • What are the people outside my group that are reality checkpoints saying when I discuss these questions with them? If you do not have people you trust that you have asked to be your reality checkpoints (no family members here regardless of how wise their counsel), then get some. Leading at your best is based on your heart, mind, vision, the quality of information you receive and your ability to listen with your "Big Ears", "Aerobic Listening".

The ideas that surface as you consider these facets of leading will bring you to fruitful insights if you let them. You extraverts may need people to talk through your ideas with those you trust. Remember, you can never not lead (everything you do or say sends a leadership message) and assume everyone in your organization tells everything to one person they trust -- the roots of the "grapevine." Others of you may find writing your thoughts more helpful. One assurance I make without reservation is that win/lose negative politics in your team has to do with how you are leading to some extent. Of course there are other factors, yet the knowledge and skill to foster an environment of thriving in ambiguity, loving change as opportunity is the path to leadership mastery.

I have posed many questions here to spark new thought and ideas. I, too, go through the same process. Sometimes I come face-to-face with the realization that I have seen the enemy and it is me. Let me suggest one answer amid all the questions. Pondering leads to perspective; perspective leads to purpose; purpose leads to statesmanship, vision, power used positively. The single most important factor in determining the course to a new solution is asking the right question. Ask "how" and you presume a better direction. Ask "if" and you have already chosen failure.

Be Well, My Friends.

Linda C. Thompson