Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Putting the organization first, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
- Personal agendas and politics can derail the performance of your entire team. And your team will no longer be high performing. You have to get the team focused on what matters and enable everyone on the team to rise above the politics and the personal agendas. Now, there's a difference between being savvy and being political. Savviness is about knowing who's influential in the organization and how you can get things done.
If you understand that lay of the land and who has influence over different parts of the organization, you're going to be able to go them and enlist their aid as you try and advance the agenda of your team. Being political is doing something to get ahead personally and thinking through how you can play people off of one another for your own personal gain. Your job as a leader is to understand the difference between the two and eliminate the latter.
Because the danger of people playing politics is it hurts morale. People get frustrated when they see somebody getting ahead. People get frustrated when they're losing resources because somebody is driving a personal agenda. Over time, if you let the politics continue, you end up with a caustic culture where people are willing to engage in backstabbing. Where people are rumor mongering. And spreading things about other people in order to, again, advance their own personal agenda.
So, you have to be mindful of what the politics are but not engage in them. If you are good at this, in terms of understanding how to be savvy and understanding that some people will have political and personal agendas you're going to be able to side step those issues and still help your team acheive what they've signed up to do. A personal example, I worked in an organization where I was tasked with a very difficult project and I told my boss, "I can approach this project one of two ways.
"Either I can just be the bean counter "and add up all the results from all the "different teams and I can give you a nice report "and make sure projects are on track "and do things more administratively. "Or I can take the other end of the spectrum "and I can drive change "and I can help people eliminate waste in the system. "I can help us think about new ways of doing things." Now, with the first approach we're going to get some results and people will push for some initiatives that might be uncomfortable but mostly people will stay safe.
In the second approach we're going to get a lot more in terms of results but I will upset people and not just really junior people but there are some senior people who are going to be very upset with the recommendations that I drive. And I said to my boss, "Which of those do you want?" And he said, "I want the impact." I said, "Okay, I'm happy to do that; "however, I need a guarantee that I am protected "in this process because when I upset "those people they're going to come after me." And my boss made the commitment.
Now, fast forward and the project is progessing and I started upsetting some very powerful people in the organization and I upset one of them so much that he went over my boss's head and tried to get me fired because I was driving an agenda that was so counter to some of the things that he wanted personally that he was trying to eliminate me from the organization. Now fortunately I had been savvy enough on the front end to get my boss to commit to protecting me during the process when that happened.
And my boss lived up to that promise. I was able to avoid being a casualty in that political agenda. So, as you assess whether you're being savvy or political simply ask, "Is the action I'm about to take in the best "interest of the organization?" If the answer is yes, proceed. If it's not, stop it immediately. You have to stop it yourself and you have to stop it if you see it in the members of your team. Because, again, politics can absolutely derail a high performing team.
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