Politicians = Corporate Leaders?

politicianElection season is upon us.  We are being bombarded with ads about how Candidate A is going to let you down, is corrupted by special interests and has a horrible record in their previous position.  Day after day and night after night, we are being told why Candidate A is bad.  What we are rarely told is why Candidate B is good and right for the position.  They ignore the “tell me what you are going to do then do it” axiom of old.

It has gotten me thinking about leadership and whether any of these candidates could survive in the corporate world.  Most of the candidates are very likable on the surface and probably interview well.  They can speak succinctly and eloquently about themselves, why they are qualified for the position and why you should hire them.  They are polished, well spoken, and look the part.  Which we know in the corporate world is half the battle.

Once they are hired, they probably are people who are great at handling the office culture.  They can recognize who the key decision makers are, how to become one of their trusted advisors and work the rest of the room to get their colleagues to understand why their ideas are rights.  They typically get fast tracked, have great short term results and are universally loved by their teams.

Then with a combination of power and wealth, their real personality comes out.  They begin to fight for their territory, they forget their team and company goals and only focus on what’s in it for them.  Grandstanding, back biting, and noise in the system become the norm.  Keeping your power is more important than moving issues forward.

When they cannot have their ego soothed or they lose the power struggle, they move companies and try to exert an even greater influence on their new company.  And because the wealth and power continue to accumulate, it is never enough.  They move from company to company leaving a wake of destruction in their path.

How many of these people have you encountered over your career?  Probably more than you’d like to count.  Great people who have been blinded by their “own” success.  They are not inherently bad people, just people who have lost touch with what’s right.

Maybe the problem with our politicians is that we didn’t catch them in the right arc of their career.  Maybe if we had people who didn’t need to be in the system to succeed, we may have leaders leading instead of trying to not lose.  Maybe if companies spent more time developing talent and keeping pay fair rather than so top heavy, top performers would stay and not job hop.

Unfortunately, when you are only judged by numbers, neither scenario seems likely.

Close 2016 with a Bang

2017_new_year_template_design_with_runway_6824428Now that Labor Day is behind us, it is time to enter the final push to make 2016 successful.  There are roughly 80 days until Thanksgiving, which basically ends the work year.  That is less than 60 work days to make an impact on your year.  Instead of freaking out, figure out what you need to do to make the year a success for your company, team and yourself.

I would focus on the following areas.

1.       Your Professional Development.  It is time to stop procrastinating and get your continuing education credits (and other training) done.  It is important that you invest in yourself but also that you are current.  One of the easiest ways to get overlooked for a promotion is because you let your credentials lapse.

2.       Your “Stated” Goals. It is a great time to check where your progress on your performance goals.  Are you going to make bonus?  Where are you missing budget?  Do you have the tools to fix it?  This should be a quarterly exercise any way, but for the fourth quarter, now is the time to review.  Waiting until October is too late.

3.       Your Short Term Projects.  Stay motivated and get all of those annoying quick projects off your desk.  Need to analyze some boring reports or reorganize an office area?  Take care of it now. You get to cross them off your To Do list and add them to your accomplishments for the year.

4.       Your Long Term Projects.  Guess what?  The end of the year is upon us.  All of those reengineering programs that you were going to do, need to be sped up and finished.  Was reinventing the sales cycle or the AP process all year a project?  The time to get it done is now.  What is great about this type of pressure is that it unclouds you and enables you to work through the project with renewed interest.

5.       Your Personal Development.  Look at the relationships you developed over the year and see how they impacted your ability to perform your job better.  If you did not invest in building deeper relations with your co-workers, customers, or colleagues, then you need to do it now.  Focus on growing your sphere of influence.  The more people who like you, the easier it is to get your tasks completed.

End the year on a high, work hard to improve your performance and you will reap rewards.  Who knows, you may figure out how to coast all year and surge your way to greatness.

What Happens When Your Leader Leaves?

control-tense-situation-150x150This is a question that gets asked a lot in terms of team sports.  Just this week, the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers had to ask that question before and after their trade of two clubhouse leaders.  NFL teams ask themselves that every time they cut a trusted veteran and decide to keep a younger player.  Their businesses are built on cohesion and chemistry.  Tinkering with that mix may yield a disastrous season.

In the business world, these changes happen all of the time.  CEOs and other senior leaders change companies constantly, taking their “team” with them from job to job.  The leadership void that is left behind can potentially cripple a team or company until the next regime comes in and starts implementing their plan.

Regardless of your spot in a company, when your leader leaves, you have a chance to improve your company standing.  Being ready for that opportunity is a key to your upward mobility.  You should focus on the following:

1.       Interpersonal relationships within the current organization.  If you are a good teammate and have made positive relationships in the key departments that affect your team, you are already on the radar for moving up.  Continue investing in these relationships when there is a leadership void.  Your presence will help you become a go to person.

2.       Global perspective.  Looking at your corporate landscape and understanding where the company needs you will help you gain the access needed to become a more valued leader.  If your former boss used to present quarterly numbers to the Board and you were the person running them, volunteer to fill that void.

3.       Being the calming influence.  People hate change and tend to overact to it.  Be the person who people can vent to and be reassured that the situation will improve.  Our positive outlook will help the team stay together and people will look to you for more important issues.

One of the biggest things you don’t want to do is self-appoint yourself as the heir apparent.  No one wants you to be a “grave robber”- waiting for your opportunity to advance during a time of mourning.  You need to state your desire to be the next leader, but not in a sneaky or grandiose way.

Being a leader is earned, take the time to invest in yourself and your team and people will see you as the next leader whenever the old one is traded, released or goes somewhere else.