If politicians weren’t popular, we’d get so much more done.

8 08 2014

“Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians.  If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and the Muppets would take seats in senate.” ~ Orson Welles

As much as it pains me to say this, politicians are also supposed to be leaders.  Maybe the reason that so many of the political institutions in the world are dysfunctional is because elected leadership has become a popularity contest.  In the corporate world, leaders are NOT elected based on popularity.  Leaders should be HIRED because they do one thing well, above all others – Achieve Results.  Other leaders, like corrupt government officials, use their job to benefit themselves, not the people they’re hired to represent.  See any of the many eastern governments and all the talk of corruption.  But let’s get back to achieving results. 

Sometimes, achieving results makes a leader un-popular.  Having to force mandatory overtime, denying time off requests, making team members learn a new technology (for some, a very uncomfortable prospect indeed), cutting costs to make the budget balance – these are all good ways to become un-popular very quickly.  Great leaders find ways to make the discomfort around achieving results a little less uncomfortable, but discomfort is a frequent side-effect of progress.  It’s important for line leaders to understand that being successful and being friends with your team are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum.  It’s just as important for these same leaders to understand the reasons why their leaders don’t “hang out” and be “one of the guys”.  These leaders understand that they’ll likely have to ask their team to do uncomfortable things to achieve results – they may even have to fire them someday.  Seeing this dynamic both down and up the chain of command will hopefully make it easier on your relationship both ways, and ease a bit of that discomfort. 

Speaking of Duck


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com




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