Politics and Leadership, the Uncomfortable Mix.

politician

I keep getting asked whats the relationship between Leadership and Politics, and how can we keep Politics out of Leadership.

Well, according to Wikipedia, Politics (from Greekpolitikos, meaning “of, for, or relating to citizens”) is the practice and theory of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.

Given that Leadership is all about influencing people, then it would appear that the two are intrinsically linked.

The real question that is being asked, I believe, is not so much about Politics, but more about how we do we keep Self Interest out of Leadership.

With Leadership comes a degree of Power and Influence and it’s about how we use them that defines where people see us as political or not.

Or whether we use Politics, or what are perceived as underhand tactics, to achieve the positions of Leadership.

If we are prepared to be underhand to achieve positions of Leadership, then people will have little faith or trust in us as leaders.

This is all related to Integrity, the more Integrity we have the less political we will be perceived.

With Integrity comes the desire to do the right thing.

When we do the right thing its easier for people to understand and accept our motivation. It’s true that we can’t please all the people all the time, but if we do the right thing, then at least they will understand and might be able to accept our decisions, even if they don’t like it.

Political Leaders are often perceived to be acting out of Self Interest, making decisions which benefit them or their group.

Often it’s much more difficult to understand and therefore accept why some decisions are made, especially when they seem to be non beneficial to us, or only aid the minority.

The only area where we can have any real influence, when it comes to selecting leaders, is in Government where we are given the opportunity to vote, but even there the world seems to be littered with Leaders who are focused on Self Interest, or only on the Interests of a minority their supporters.

In Business our ability to influence who become  leaders is much lower and often nil. Its the Senior Leaders who appoint people into Leadership positions, and if they lack Integrity then it’s likely that they will promote people of the same ilk.

There is a saying that God created man in his own image, and I think that this also applies to Leaders too, they want people who are just like themselves in key leadership positions, people who will support their views and make the same type of decisions, in order to maintain the status quo.

This is bad news for those of us who want to see Politics completely taken out of Leadership, as this needs to start from the Top Down, and if the current Leadership lacks integrity how likely is it that this will happen.

The good news is that much of the Leadership training now on offer talks about Integrity and Trust as being the keys to great Leadership and top Business Performance, so there is hope that there will be a reduction in Politics in Leadership.

Unfortunately though, we do need to remember that we are also competing with Human Nature here, so it’s not going to be eliminated completely, or quickly.

What are your thoughts on Politics and Leadership, do you share my views, or do you have another opinion. I would love to hear as this is a very interesting subject.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles

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