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My least favorite mistake is turning a decision into an opportunity to politic for personal gain.  We have all initiated this or been on the receiving end so let’s have a real moment about this one.  You have an agenda that you want to drive.  Some of it makes decent business sense and the rest of it will shine a good light on you.  You know that key stakeholders (don’t you just hate that term??) will oppose your idea.  So you start having one-on-one conversations to “socialize” your ideas.  As you know, this is euphemistic for greasing the wheels, smoke and mirrors, three card monty and other fool’s errands.  Your intention all along is to win over your enemies in cunning ways that may or may not benefit the business but will certainly benefit you.  By the time the discussion takes place in the team, there is little resistance and the decision goes your way.

For those among us who have instigated this ploy, don’t we feel victorious and clever?  At least that’s what we tell ourselves.  But more of us have been duped by these shenanigans and we are not likely to offer our support for long.  It is a short-term win.  You got what you wanted but those left in the dust will see that you reaped the spoils and they got shafted.  This can only lead to very hard feelings and a break in the trust.  If you have gone down this path once, don’t expect it to ever work again.  Unless, of course, you are a psychopath.

I can’t sound the alarm loudly enough on this one.  This type of self-serving lobbying is very harmful to a team and to an organization and, ultimately, to you.  For as many stories as I could tell about times that I observed a leader pulling this kind of crap, I could also tell you how the story ends…usually.  Frequently sooner than later, that person leaves the organization “to pursue other opportunities”.  He can’t use the current organization as a reference for the next job so a myth is created to explain why he left the organization.  If he gets hired by the new company it doesn’t take too long before he is up to his old tricks again.  And ultimately his career tanks.  From the outside it may look like he continues to get new positions; that the damage is minimal.  But it is more like very short marriages. It doesn’t take the new wife long to realize why all those other women divorced his ass and then she follows suit.

Your days are filled with making decisions.  Know which ones require a simple go-no go from you and which ones need discussion.  Expect that not everyone will love every decision and learn how to ride out your uneasiness without caving in.  Be mindful of how you deliver the message.  And always have the best interests of the organization at the core.

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