Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Political Landmines

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Political Landmines

The past few postings (see past posts at Leadership.ReadSolutionsGroup.com ) focused on development of influence skills through understanding your network and thinking consciously about how to develop and utilize it. Operating without a network or oblivious to the nuances of other’s networks represents a walk through a field – not a pretty meadow – a minefield of opportunities for the unaware to be damaged by political landmines.
Consider these common landmines:

Sabotaged – Unfortunately many business environments contain overly political types who will do whatever it takes to look good; frequently at the expense of others. They sabotage projects, proposals and your good name out in the open or behind the scenes. Tools of choice include gossip, fixing blame, interruptions, condescension, cutting off resources, set-ups for failure, and raising doubts about capabilities.

Imprisoned – Too tough, too soft, too analytical, too pushy, not strategic, not a team-player. These labels and others can hold you in a prison of perception. The stories that underpin the label may be old, they may hold some truth, or they could be fabrications of the saboteur. Regardless once conceived and placed in action, these labels take on a life of their own. Repeated behind closed doors, documented in performance reviews and career discussions, and reinforced by whatever evidence meets the need.

Shunned – While managers might say that healthy conflict is great for the team, sometimes those that step forward, challenge conventional wisdom and “take one for the team” may find themselves relegated to lesser duties and cut off from the inside track. Honesty, raising issues and questioning assumptions are important to maintaining integrity. The landmine comes when passion and voice move ahead of the thoughtful analysis of consequences and options.

Lost – What was important yesterday is not today. The boss who was managing your career moves on. The posters and programs espouse the values of the organization, but the people getting ahead don’t seem to. The pace of change in the market place, in Wall Street opinions, in corporate leadership creates a landscape where agendas reverse, morph and compete on an almost daily basis. Rules change and the person not constantly attuned to the clues can quickly get lost and left behind.

Do you need to become a political operative to successfully navigate this minefield? To be recognized, rewarded, influential? No, but becoming savvy, developing and using your network, learning to spot the clues, and knowing how to take pre-emptive action, can allow good leaders to rise and flourish with their integrity intact.


If you are worried that these landmines lie in your path or are exploding around you, or that the leaders in your organization or on your team are stepping on these landmines day after day, let’s talk about how coaching can help identify, avoid and disarm these hazards.

Sherry is also available to lead workshops for management teams, emerging leader programs, and other organizations on Power, Politics and Influence.

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