What You Need to Know About The Art of Leadership Politicians

I have long been a student of great leaders and I invest time in observing how our current crop of business and political leaders are behaving & performing. Interestingly I have noticed parallels in the behaviours of federal politicians with some of my coaching clients.

Late last year I was a guest on the Local ABC radio station to discuss “What Makes a Good Leader” and specifically who would be the next leader of the Federal Liberal Party. Since my expertise is specifically in transforming leaders in the business world, I discussed with Kelly Higgins-Devine what makes a good leader in this context. My subsequent on-air “prediction” that Tony Abbott would be the next likely leader of the Liberal party came true about 3 weeks later.

No don’t panic; this article is NOT a party political broadcast and I am not going to predict who will be the next Prime Minister of Australia.

However, I note that the two major parties Liberals/Nationals and the ALP are spending millions of dollars on advertising.

Their messages are strong, loud and negative.

Each side is intent on pulling the other down as far as possible. Each side is spending millions of dollars to tell half-truths and innuendos about the other. Each party is aiming to undermine the credibility of the other, thus undermining their support and voter base.

Back in the days of woolly mammoths our brains were wired to look for danger to keep us safe and alive. It worked. We, and cockroaches, survived when other species perished. Today in the absence of woolly mammoths, the dangers we fear are more subtle but our safety antennae are still active. So when an authority figure tells us to watch out for a bad guy we listen to protect our own safety.

When someone in authority like a political leader tells us to watch out for those bad people on the other side of politics we listen to protect our own safety. We have a saying that “if something seems too good to be true it probably is”; we tend not to question the opposite that “if something seems too bad to be true…”

Why do they do this to each other? Because it works – in the short term.

Over time we vote for the party that we think is the least worst; the least inept; and the least dishonest. We become cynical and look for half-truths and hidden messages in every news bulletin and political speech. Our politicians are busy pulling each other down as low as possible and don’t seem to realise that they are destroying their own credibility by their actions.

A “Leader Politician” at work can be every bit as undermining and destructive to his “opponents” as in the federal political arena.

There are as number of ways that you can spot a Leader Politician in your organisation in the absence of TV adverts;

    You can spot a workplace Politician by his “water cooler gossip”. You know…the lowered voice, the sideways looks and the secretive tones as he “just wanted to let you know that…”. This is usually followed by a titbit that you really did not want to hear, but now that you know it, you cannot help but appreciate being let in on the “secret”.

  • Or the denigrating email sent to the leadership team about you is a good hint that you have a Politician in your organisation. (Yes, those emails truly do happen)
  • Or you can spot him by the supposed statements of fact attributed to possible and credible causes which tear down someone else’s reputation e.g. “3 people resigned because of Peter…”. The fact is – 3 people resigned. Why did they resign? You don’t know – and neither does your Politician. It may not have been because of Peter, but it sounds plausible. Peters’ reputation has just gone down the pan.
  • When the Leader Politician gets busy he undermines you and your colleagues. Staff conversation becomes cynical and their expectations of behaviour are lowered. The pleasant working atmosphere you used to take for granted is gone.

    The workplace Politician is as dangerous and is just as invisible and as undermining as a white ant colony. He can eat the fabric of your company from the inside.

    Why does the workplace Politician behave in such an underhanded way? Because it works – in the short term.

    He has a mistaken belief that because others are questioning your output and your performance then his performance will not be questioned. In this he is just like the leaders of the political parties. Fortunately for you and your business, he becomes just as visible in his mud throwing as the leader of a political party – eventually.

    That is usually when I get to meet him!

    Liz Cassidy, founder of Third Sigma in Brisbane is specialises in Executive Behavioural Coaching, transforming Problem Managers into Inspirational Leaders.

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