All organizations, even the one-person variety, are
infuriatingly political. That is, if politics infuriate you.
Frankly, I love politics. And also ignore them. Both frames of
mind are important to success in business, or most anything
Anyone who loves accomplishing things necessarily must learn
to love politics. (Yes, I insist on the word "love.") Moreover,
for better or for worse, politics are as important for dictators
as for democrats. You can't take people where they aren't willing
to go. Saddam Hussein understands this as well as Mohandas Gandhi
Politics means inducing and managing creative contention,
giving people air time, building winning coalitions. They are the
human element (there are no others) of the implementation
process. We're all in favor of getting things done. We must,
therefore, be in favor of politics. Politics is implementation.
The best leaders, including sole proprietors, who by
definition depend on others for survival, spend day and night
massaging relationships and egos (that is, working at politics).
Politics is about releasing the potential in followers,
inspiring them to remake your vision to fit their passions _ and
then to implement it with zest. And politics is simultaneously
about squelching potential; successfully implementing anything
means we can't all get our own sweet way all the time.
Politics means loving people; getting a kick out of being
around folks at the front line (the real army of doers at a
Ritz-Carlton hotel or at Merck Pharmaceutical Co.); and enjoying
the fray itself.
To engage lustily in politics at Bill Clinton's level, or
yours or mine, also means developing a tolerance for bloody noses
_ mostly our own. Those with a thirst for action, especially once
they've developed a record for getting things done, make enemies
or provoke cynics who see all politics as brown-nosing (which, of
course, is largely true).
And that leads to my second point: The best way to practice
politics is to ignore them.
I've worked in many an office where "office politics" were the
primary entertainment, absorbing hours of each day. What a waste
to engage in such stuff. Or to pay attention to it.
While there's no more important activity for implementers than
politics (relationship-building), there's no more useless
activity than worrying about office politics.
For heaven's sake, don't sap your energy and your time
fretting about the end-run that Sam is pulling on you. …