Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Avoids Political Behavior

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Avoids Political Behavior

A leadership competency in the area of "Demonstrating Integrity" is "Avoids political and self-serving behavior". Is it really true that in corporations of today, a leadership must avoid political behavior? I disagree. Yet, this a behavior identified the Global Leader of the Future Inventory written by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith in collaboration with Al Jacobson.

A definition of politics is “the process by which a community's decisions are made, rules for group behavior are established, competition for positions of leadership is regulated, and the disruptive effects of disputes are minimized.”* This is a neutral definition; politics is one of the structures of behavior – common to all human relations. It is a process or set of rules overseeing decision-making, group behavior, competition for leadership and dispute handling. I would argue that the savvy senior executive needs to be skilled in using politics, with integrity. Politics is about influence. It is about understanding people's motivations and needs. It is about recognizing the network of relationships in an organization. It is about constructing that meet the organization's needs and influencing the response by being aware of and accommodating, if practical, the needs of various internal stakeholders.

Further in this inventory, we find these additional competencies:
  • Builds effective partnerships across the company
  • Builds effective alliances with other organizations
  • Creates a network of relationships that help get things done.
I wonder, aren't these "political behaviors"? Perhaps a better Leadership Competency would be "Engaging in political behavior in the best interests of the company". For more on political skills, see my earlier blog posting, Office Politics: Playing the Game.

What do you think? Should leaders avoid political behaviors?

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