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What Kind of Political Change Leader Are You?

In any organization and in any social institution, you need to have some degree of political savvy to move your agenda. The reality is the best of organizations–no matter how big or small–is made up of turf and micropolitics. If you want to move your agenda, some degree of political competence is necessary. At the core of this is self-awareness. As a change leader, as an individual who is trying to move an agenda, nothing is more important than an understanding of your implicit and often subtle political mindset. How you approach change, what your inclinations are about the rate of change (slow versus rapid), what your ideas are concerning how encompassing or specific the change should be–all compose your political mindset.

The problem is that your political change mindset is often expressed by you but not owned by you. You may be unaware of your inherent biases on how change should be approached. The first thing a self-aware political change leader does is begin to understand what his or her implicit mindset is. As I argued in The Agenda Mover, there are four political change mindsets. When you are moving an agenda, the first thing you need to figure out is what kind of mindset you are using to approach this change challenge.

Are You a Traditionalist Political Change Leader?

A traditionalist political change leader is not against change, but prefers that any change initiative be considered carefully, reflecting the organization’s history. If an organization is going off track–sales are sluggish, staff are unhappy, innovation is lagging–the traditionalist will try to find the solution in “going back to basics” and reviving once-abandoned routines to help the organization weather a difficult period.

Traditionalists prefer making changes at the edges, slowly and incrementally, rather than tossing the whole thing and starting from scratch. They prefer the slow approach to change–to get it right the first time–and find it difficult dealing with situations on the fly. There will be change with a traditionalist at the helm. However, it will be slow, incremental, measured, and conducted within the frame of the organization’s history.

A traditionalist political change leader is most comfortable making tinkering changes here and there, and any change that a traditionalist makes is thoughtful and well-planned. 

Are You an Adjuster Political Change Leader?

The adjuster political change leader shares some characteristics with the traditionalist leader. They prefer making incremental changes, but they are far more comfortable when improvising solutions. The adjuster change leader lives in the here-and-now. What happened yesterday is so far in the distant past that it might as well have happened a hundred years ago. Adjusters live in the moment and have a gift for continually re-assimilating themselves into the changing environment. The question for the adjuster is timing. When must a move be made? When should we expand? When should we consolidate?

Adjusters are practical. Their strength is reacting to changing circumstances, and timing the next move. Often the adjuster will not have a particular goal in mind, and find that improvised changes are easier to make (even if the changes have a higher degree of risk).

An adjuster political change leader does not go in for big change, but is fine with tweaking and making adjustments as they go along. Adjusters aren’t tied up with long-term planning, but prefer to react when the situation demands it.

Are You a Developer Political Change Leader?

The developer political change leader would rather see overhauling changes, but they don’t want to see a dramatic transformation overnight. They want change–but through careful planning and using thoughtful caution. Developers are ground visionaries–while their goals have the potential for far-reaching consequences, they prefer to plod toward their goal.

The developer political change leader wants to see deep, transformative change, but within the context of careful planning. They don’t want to leave anything to chance, but they want to be prepared for all contingencies.

Are You a Revolutionary Political Change Leader?

Revolutionary political change leaders are not content with puny changes. They seek transformational change that will radically and fundamentally change the organization. Revolutionaries have an idea of what they want to achieve, but they don’t have a step-by-step plan. A plan would get in the way of their agility. They are risk takers.

Revolutionaries thrive on new ideas and new twists on old ideas. Always looking to push the envelope, revolutionaries are likely to focus on new technologies, emerging markets, and up-to-the-minute research as the impetus for change.

The revolutionary political change leader wants big change and wants to engage in radical action to do it. They can’t be bothered with the nitty-gritty details, but they barge forward and do it.

Know When to Be Which

So, the answer to the question “What kind of political change leader are you?” is: “none of the above” and “all of the above”!

Politically competent change leaders change their mindset depending on the issue at hand. For some issues, a leader may be a traditionalist, and for others, the leader may be a revolutionary, and so forth. Political change leaders are agile–they are able to project different styles depending on the agenda they are backing. The most vulnerable change leaders are the ones who are consistent in their political mindset.

It’s not who you are but which mindset you choose to bring to a particular agenda. Competent change leaders adjust their mindset depending on their agenda.

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Do You Read Weak Signals? Sometimes It’s Not a Scream; It’s a Whisper

We live in a world of signals. There are innumerable bits of information that float around us every day. We see and hear things that are relayed via media—the internet, television, books, magazines, trade journals and even radio. We pick up snatches of conversation in the check-out line or on the street or in the hallway. We receive emails and scan message boards. Some information that enters our orbit has more immediate value, and some information may not be relevant now, but may have important implications in the future. This type of information is indicative of a weak signal—that something is happening. Entrepreneurs take the time to speculate and engage in deeper analysis of that “something” before deciding to act (or not).

Read more from Inc.com.

By CGP Grey (VLA 4893505508) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsBy CGP Grey (VLA 4893505508) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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New Inc.com article: When Ego Destroys Your Vision

The voice, passion, and power of the new leader are essential when trying to initiate a new direction and new purpose. In fact, at the vision stage, ego is a necessity. Much of the legitimacy of initial ideas stems from belief that others have in the leader. Visionary leaders who focus only on themselves inadvertently stymie the transformation of their vision into reality. They become demoralizing tyrants, marginalizing those who could be key to their success.

The challenge for a visionary leader is to avoid the classical mistakes that emerge when focusing only on themselves:

Read the rest here.

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Six Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with Narcissists

We are all familiar with narcissists. If indeed of late this has gotten much play in the political arena, it is a phenomenon not unique to it. Narcissism, at least in its most subtle form, can emerge among those who are so confident in their vision and capacity that celebration of self may replace or subvert their originally intended agenda. At that point, they begin to view the world from their own unique perspective. Everything is filtered through the lens of self-aggrandizement and their insecurity.

Those who work with and around the narcissist–those who believe in the underlying agenda but are wary of the self-focused intent of the leader–are challenged with dealing with the narcissist on a regular basis. Specifically, surviving a narcissistic leader demands pragmatic political skills and continuous focus. There are at least six things that you should keep in mind:

1. Keep your eye on the agenda. Keep asking yourself what you’d like to accomplish. What are the specific concerns that drive you? What are the intentions you’re pursing? Don’t let the whims of the leader lead to you drop the ball. If the collective has a goal that you continue to believe in, then it is easier not to be affected or taken off course by a needless side path.

2. Bide your time. Don’t overreact and jump on every comment and every point. Every action doesn’t deserve an equal counter-reaction. Sometimes a reaction can be nothing. There are some things that you can let pass. As your mother might have told you, “Pick your battles.” With a narcissist, everything isn’t a battle unless you make it one.

3. Be deliberate with feedback. Don’t hesitate to give feedback when necessary, but make it specific and concrete. You have to tow the line. But, at the same time, you cannot engage in half-truths and petty obfuscations. You aren’t doing yourself or the narcissist any favors if you sugarcoat the truth.

4. Have a red line. Understand at which point the agenda is completely undermined to the point where you can no longer support it. Even if you are so committed to the cause, something the narcissist says or does is too out-there, too outrageous that you cannot keep up even the most tight-lipped support. Know when it is time to cut bait, and do it swiftly when the time comes.

5. Be careful not to feed the flame. Don’t over ingratiate yourself with the leader. Some narcissists feed on the adulation and kowtowing of others. If your narcissist is like this, pull back. Don’t give him or her positive reinforcement for acting in a way that is frankly not acceptable.

6. Seek support from others. Sometimes there is strength in numbers, but be careful who you confide in. What you view as a getting something off your chest, others may view as ammunition that they will use to fire back in your direction. So, seek support, but be aware that others may not share your motives and intentions.

In the final analysis, it may be the case that you cannot survive the narcissistic leader because you find that your core values are being violated. At a certain point, the narcissist may so overwhelm you that you have no choice but to move on.

 

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How To Counter Criticism Of Your Million Dollar Idea

The best entrepreneurs and business professionals learn to anticipate these push-backs before they happen, and respond calmly and effectively. I like the specifics on how to do this in a new book, “The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough,” by leadership expert Samuel B. Bacharach, Cornell Professor and cofounder of the Bacharach Leadership Group.Bacharach details seven possible criticisms that every leader with a good idea should anticipate, and provides guidance on how to overcome each.

 

Read on The Huffington Post