Leadership and the Politics of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

This is how politics works in the real world. Pushing one's agenda as forcefully, as craftily, as effectively as possible, no matter the bigger picture or the consequences of narrow-minded power plays.

But at this point Clement should have reminded the reader that not only did he cajole his colleagues into accepting only the information that supported his position, but that he had intelligent, cogent, well-rehearsed rebuttals should any in the group of colleagues resist his pushy position -- that in fact part of politics is anticipating what the other side will argue and familiarizing one's self with the other side of the coin. In an organization that is "a political system" you learn politics and power struggles or you don't become a leader.

It might be nitpicking but in Clement's discussion of what a leader is and should be, he omitted the fact that managers are generally in place to "maintain established processes" and to "contribute to organization stagnation," as Karlene Kerfoot writes in a scholarly journal article on nursing dynamics. Kerfoot points out correctly that the discussion vis-a-vis leadership should center around the fact that managers are "maintenance thinkers" who are there to make certain "the status quo runs right, efficiently, and with as few problems as possible" (Kerfoot, 1998, p. 173). That is not a bad thing at all. Companies need managers because the organization is indeed a political system and has a culture within it and someone has to keep things flowing in the direction that will provide profit and success.

But, leaders are likely more important than managers because they are "creative problem solvers who use their imagination to visualize new connections between ordinary events" and to analyze critically what the company is doing to improve; leaders constantly ask the "what if" questions, Kerfoot asserts. But in the case of big companies like IBM and GM and others, it is much easier to teach managers than leaders. In fact picking up management skills is just a technical matter. Developing leadership isn't so easy; "leadership cannot be taught," Kerfoot writes, it must be learned through experience. (p. 173). It is also true that some executives fear the emergence of leaders within their ranks because leaders challenge decisions, and ask questions, and challenge groupthink.

While Clement spends a lot of time in his article discussing the need for political savvy within an organization, he really never provides the step-by-step, nitty-gritty strategies needed to put forward a political power play. He does say, as mentioned, that coercion and manipulation and deception go into the genre of organizational politics, and he advises that "what other do and say may not reveal their true intent," a nice way of saying getting what you want depends on being dishonest.

Meanwhile Marilyn Moats Kennedy explains how to engage in company politics more succinctly and boldly than Clement does. Clement uses a number of other research reports to emphasize a lot of differing viewpoints and policies, which is credible and helpful. But Kennedy gets right to the heart of how to work with political dynamics. She writes that in organizational politics one must "practice leadership, not management," and practice "inclusion with a vengeance" (Kennedy, 1998, p. 56). "Practice modesty and consideration and demand both," she insists. "Act on rumor, don't await confirmation; aggressively collect allies" and "understand the politics of voice mail." Above all else, she continues, know that "…position power isn't personal power" (p. 56).

Works Cited

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Kennedy, Marilyn Moats. (1998). The new rules of leadership and organizational politics (in

The Trenches). Physician Executive, 24(1), 56-58.

Kerfoot, Karlene. (1998). Management is taught, leadership is learned. MedSurg Nursing,

7(3), 173-175.

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