Monday, May 02, 2016

Politicos fuel corporate politics impacting individual and enterprise performance

This is the last part of the trilogy on how people impact enterprises. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2

Position bestows power; power brings superiority; superiority brings attitude; attitude brings the feeling of superiority and invincibility to some; at this point sycophants start flocking the powerful like flies who seek rubbed off glory. The resultant coterie shamelessly mimics the good, bad and ugly, indifferent of their visibly spineless behavior that makes them the subject of ridicule. They mostly amplify the unwanted and undesirable characteristics of their self-proclaimed leader leaving behind a trail of collateral damage.

Known as the M&A king, in every company he had created inorganic growth and value. As a person, he was aloof and unapproachable creating an aura revered by the bourgeois wanting to please him. They fought to second guess what he liked and wanted to hear; the abysmal hit rate strove them to try harder resulting in error of comedies ! It never occurred to them to ask him while he remained indifferent to his followers who tried even harder to get close to him. The enterprise saw some high profile exits which were inexplicable in the beginning.

Culture is driven from the top is a well-known fact; people ape their bosses, the politicos consciously and the majority subconsciously. For the leader, it is important to stay connected to reality and take cognizance of the culture they are creating and supporting. When they do not pay heed to the undercurrents and allow the survival of an army of flatterers, the performers end up disillusioned; they need a direction and a leader they can look up to. Unable to stand the shift in culture, the performers find greener pastures quickly.

When he structured a sizeable deal with an equal, it created ripples internally and across the industry with the insecure wanting to kiss up to demonstrate their value lest they become part of synergy between the companies. His detached demeanor gave nothing away not that he really bothered about anything except his image of success. For the insecure, the need to be visible resulted in adverse impact to enterprise performance while causing the exact damage to themselves that they wanted to avoid in the first place.

All deals don’t always work out the way they are planned; emboldened by past success, the CEO had gotten too ambitious in his quest for growth. It was too early as they had still not fully completed the previous integration. The deal hailed by the industry as too aggressive eventually turn out to be his nemesis; the board who had earlier showered him with adulation fired the CEO for diluting shareholder value. Loyalists were rewarded with key positions to rescue the sinking ship, they did arrest the slide albeit slowly and steadily.

Exit of good talent left the organization scrambling to bring back performance to an acceptable level. Loss of market share drove south market capitalization giving rise to speculation that the once “too big to fail” company may actually become an acquisition target themselves. Remnants of scavengers and the bewildered were clinically removed to cleanse the system and induct required talent that the company needed to survive the impact of a merger gone awry. Survival instinct of a few politicos aligned themselves to the new powers.

Companies have had massive rises and colossal falls attributable to charismatic leadership; these companies did not build the breadth and depth of management required to sustain in the long run. Organizations are indeed resilient though sudden dips in performance are difficult to recover from. Political and personal agenda should be systemically removed by the Board and Shareholders.  Alignment to the larger objective and crisp, timely and coherent communication keeps everyone objectively focused on what matters.

Turf wars, silos and politics are a given in today’s world; what matters is the alignment to the larger enterprise agenda ! If you run a company, do introspect what is the message you are giving to your team, their teams, your customers and stakeholders. If you are working in a company, review where your personal agenda fits into the larger goals of the enterprise. In both cases there will be many who find themselves at odds; if there is a disconnect, take corrective action before you stand out and are made part of statistical correction.

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