Management super-heroes

2005

Tall buildings are there for the leaping, locomotives are made for stopping and don't even mention the tardiness of a speeding bullet when compared to your possible achievements if you could just defeat your greatest foe.

That's right, the dastardly Captain Politics. Well, prepare to don your cape!

Captain Politics is the scourge of many an otherwise successful project or business. If you are the kind of manager who feels a glow of satisfaction at you ability to be "a player" then you have no part in our new management order!

Politics is a destabilising force because it is aimed at personal glory not team performance. If you feel the need to spread your political wings then make sure it is strategically designed to out think business competitors.

Even then use caution. When was the last time you heard genuine praise for a politician?

The amount of time and energy that is sapped by petty internal conflicts is astonishing, destructive and seldom, if ever, of benefit to the business, let alone your reputation. What's more it sets a terrible precedent that spreads throughout the business like wildfire.

When the fire catches hold and starts to burn the fingers of shareholders or the board you will find your ambitions floored under a reactionary stamping down of feet on those considered responsible.

Now, as one of our new breed of managers, you are not going to fall into the trap of trying to out politick the competition.

It's the job of the Board to stamp on such unproductive behaviour, but even if they do not – maybe they are too focussed on their own power struggles – don't be tempted to enter the game. Wash your hands in the waters of common sense and a long-term strategy.

Politics is a game for the ruthlessly ambitious, although it is often played by the inept

Politics is a game for the ruthlessly ambitious, although it is often played by the inept. Don't fall into either category if you want win the war. Play by a different set of rules. Rules that will ensure that no matter what kind of hand your politically minded colleagues have, you will whisper Checkmate.

Let's consider the raison d'etre for our foe, Captain Politics; real name Mac E Avelian.

It may seem that Mac has the necessary ambition and ruthlessness to be leading the game, this week at least. His aim is simple, to win for himself. He will do this by exerting his superior cunning, or where outgunned, by deception to ensure all the plaudits are his. It doesn't matter to him whether or not he deserves them.

Mac's political manoeuvrings are based upon what makes Mac look the best, often cleverly disguised as a beneficent concern for the business. He will trample upon good ideas by colleagues; divert attention away from his mistakes and where possible places shiny apples on the desk of those people who are easily flattered.

He understands that the way to win the short-term battle is to please the boss. The thing is, it is a short-term strategy. One that only lasts long enough for Mac to reap the benefits and move on before the real cost is discovered.

The people who will bear the cost are those who have seen the immediate benefits of Mac's strategy and think it is a winning formula. They are the ones who will have the shareholder shoe prints on their faces. Mac understands the need to get out while the going is good.

So, what to do? You must don the cape, place the your underpants over your tightly fitting spandex and become… Solution's Advocate Man/Woman.

When you assume your alter ego you carefully place self-interest aside and do only what is best for the project, the business and the team. It may seem like a self-sacrificing policy but it will pay long-term dividends.

By circumventing any attempt at self-interest politicking you defeat Mac because you have moved the game to a place he is not comfortable on. He relies on greed and self-interest to play his game.

As our diligent Super Hero you have thoroughly researched the guiding principles that support your mission. Any time a challenge to your authority by Mac is made, you will produce carefully rehearsed speech; "does what you propose follow our guiding principles", "how will that support the business," "does it add value or detract from our mission?"

It is inevitable that some of the decisions you are forced to make to support your Solution's Advocate Man/Woman sobriquet will be contrary to your own obvious self-interest.

When this happens smile to yourself, modestly of course as befits a Super Hero and wait for the inevitable positive press and copycat boy and girl wonders that will leap to follow your crusade.

If you want to know how these guiding principles must be established, then you need to join us next time, same Bat channel, same Bat time…

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About The Author

René Da Costa
René Da Costa

René Da Costa is an author and consultant.