Election 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.