Not only is the current political landscape of the United States in utter turmoil, but many companies deal daily with an internal political landscape of their own. Regardless of your party or preference, leadership is bigger than politics, locally or nationwide, and in many cases it has nothing to do with politics, and here are three reasons why.
When you are a leader of people, versus a manager of things, leadership becomes personal. Politics is not. Leadership needs to take into consideration the needs, motivations, and individual value of the people you have the privilege of leading. Politics take into consideration the utility of a person, but not their innate value. If you are seeing those you lead as simply tools of value to you or how their vote counts or how many of them there are to “deal with”, then maybe you should run for office, but leading is likely not for you.
In the training program we provide, called Contagious Leadership, we talk about the value of authenticity. We sometimes call it being you and leading you before you have the privilege of leading others. The point is that true effective, and contagious leadership requires that you be you and not fake being someone else. Employees, team members, and even volunteer boards respond well to you being the person you say you are, and not that person that you simply “play on TV” when the cameras, lights, and mics are on.
If you lead on automatic pilot, you risk acting in a way that works well with one person and is confusing or damaging to another. Leadership takes conscious effort and is not effective when it becomes an act or something that is done out of habit or being “on”. Leaders are not trained seals, they are people who guide, motivate, develop, recognize, and coach other people. Thus, staying consciously engaged in the process and answering the questions that come up NOW with the answers that are relevant NOW works far better than using the same answer you used in last week’s debate.
While politics are in the minds of all in the United States at the moment, don’t confuse the concept of politics, in your office or your nation, with the act of leadership. One does not have to be a leader to be a politician and one does not have to be a politician to lead. Our nation’s politicians are vying for a position of leadership, but being effective in the first does not guarantee success in the latter. In your own professional and personal leadership, the skills used to keep it personal, authentic and conscious will serve you far better when you want employees to get the job done.
I’m Monica Wofford, and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!