The election is sort of the ultimate organizational transformation event. Every few years we come together as a nation and decide who is going to manage the business of our country. Once the dust settles and the choices are made, it is time to rally around the chosen leadership and move forward. Harboring bitter feelings from the competition as the organization, or in this case the nation, moves forward is seriously counter-productive. On a much smaller scale, the results of office politics play out in our lives all of the time. Executives, team members, and managers are in constant competition not only with other organizations, but also with other members of the organization for recognition, upward mobility, and power. Just as in our national and local politics, too often the bad blood resulting from this competition spills over into the period after the decision has been made. This is often to the detriment of all of the parties involved and it certainly does not benefit the organization in question. There are three critical actions a new leader can take after being chosen to prevent the politics of the competition from spoiling the choice that has been made and the performance of the organization going forward:
1. Reach out to the losers – in organizational politics with fewer clearly chosen candidates, this may not be as obvious as in our political process. Do not under estimate the power of making a personal connection with those who also may have been vying for the position in which you now sit. The fact that they were under consideration for the same role makes them relevant stakeholders for you, no matter what your personal opinion is of them.
2. Embrace compromise – building on the last point it may be helpful to find a place of common ground with your competition and embrace it publically and in short order. This validation of some aspect of your competition makes their interaction with you more palatable to those who backed them, and eases your ability to build effective coalitions and make progress towards making the organization perform.
3. Stay focused on the organization – you may have had to focus on “your” approach in order to win the position to get an opportunity to transform the organization. Once you have the position, it is time to refocus on the organization. One of the best things you can do is forget your previous “positions” and ensure that you are not still fighting the fight that got you the position. Once you have it, the best way to lose it is to keep fighting the fight to get it rather than focusing on whatever the best way forward is for the organization, regardless of previous positioning.
As we put this year’s election behind us, I hope our political leadership will take the approach I’ve outlined above and do what is best for the nation. In a similar vein, if you want to make the most of your opportunity for organizational transformation or a new position, please remember that if you truly want the organization to succeed you will stay focused on its requirements and not your own.+
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