Leaders know that effective political skills are essential in navigating safely in today’s world where knowing how to handle sticky issues with powerful people, colleagues, and friends is an advanced relationship survival skill.
This subject (politics and power) hit me as the US Presidential election played out this November.
Positives and Negatives
I felt pounded day and night with the unrelenting ads from both major parties. We tell leaders they have to learn both positive and negative political skills but what do we make of the election strategies?
Is dirty beautiful now?
We must know how to tread lightly through the political minefields, and when an explosion may be necessary or that one is about to happen in spite of our efforts. So what do the political skills on display from the professionals in DC and beyond the Beltway teach us?
Whether your candidate won or lost on November 6, you are probably glad it is all finally over.
We have lowered the bar almost to the ground when an important event that should fill us with pride about how we pick our leaders becomes a hate, stress-filled contest that shows American at its worst and leaves our country in discord.
Winning and Losing
Where the only way we win is if those “others” lose and the only way we can be right is if those “others” are punished for being wrong. It is shadow time in a groupthink design and the trolls in our subconscious are out front and center.
- To the ego, it is a game of kill-or-be-killed to prove we are right.
- To our authentic self, it is the suffering of disbelief of how did this madness happen to me. Am I really like this?
We say we detest dirty (too mild a word) politics and then cheer and collude to beat those “others” by doing whatever it takes. Truth and civility be damned as the end justifies the means as only we can save our country and the world.
Are you sad that we have turned our major elections into “super bowl” type events? Each one filled with home and away opponents, giving us the good, the bad, posturing and hype, talking smack, and trash, warning, insulting our enemies, incensed with hatred, vitriol, and sometimes violence.
Why do choose to pit citizen against citizen in a rivalry of hate, scorn and beat downs?
Each side ready to fight to the finish to defend its special interests, and crush the enemy who doesn’t see the world the right way meaning like we do. We have smart, patriotic, people in America who mostly care about their vision of life in the larger world.
Ready for War
Some bring us particularly narrow special interest agendas, all need to be right, and that means almost no one will ever admit they are wrong. All these people with whom we coexist with civilly each day until they suddenly become those “others.”
Many (and growing it appears) see those “others” as real enemies and at the extreme they are seen as evil.
Manufactured combatants, all fired up, resolute, expressing moral superiority, and out to get the man, a targeted group, or a cause to insure what’s right. Tribes that believe in the justness of their actions and seeking division with those “others.”
“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.” - John Arbuthnot
Blame and The New Normal
We too easily blame the President, his staff of true believers, the deep pattern of corruption on Capitol Hill, the strategies and tactics of the various political operatives, lobbyists, superpacs, powerful special interest groups, etc. and we are partially right.
Once they were the honest brokers or so it seemed. The keepers of what used to be the gold standard of moral codes that they held as their duty to honor and uphold. But alas, the code is no longer. Today our “new normal” news media is not part of the mechanism that provides solutions to our Country’s global problems.
But rather they are the shameless voices and faces that help perpetuate our blindness to the real causes of these problems.
I would have used the word truth but they do not know the meaning of the word anymore. The mainstream press, the internet media poseurs (bloggers) with our and outside help has abolished our need for a moral compass allowing corrupt, politically biased opinions (called reporting) to thrive.
He could not see a belt without hitting below it. - Margot Asquith
Our Moral Code
But unfortunately, this is not the complete story line. The missing characters in this drama are tied tightly to our shadow and our “causes.” We all collude in this sick and twisted group-think game of “ego and self deception.”
What is lost is the opportunity that is America.
Our integral opportunity to be of service to others in devotion to our country’s moral code while eliminating most of the negative elements that might one day end this self-defeating game.
Meanwhile, our country stays divided, full of hate and mean-spirited intentions.
It has become a country in decline, governed (with few exceptions) within a seriously fractured, corrupt, inefficient, ineffective and culturally dysfunctional political system.
Leading Us Where?
Lead by the morally challenged people we elected to operate a system where no one really wins or loses too much so the system can self-perpetuate.
Sounds like the joke’s on us.
In our political version of the Super Bowl, the consequences of bad play calling are getting higher. But the show must go on in our heavily mediated pay-per-view, prime time event.
Where the winners and their supporters have their egos validated and inflated temporarily.
As after the election, we go back to our daily reality working with those “others.” Are we truly blind? Do we even see the dead-end street ahead of us? It is time to face it; we are ashamed of nothing anymore. My opinion and I could be wrong.
“Want a friend? Get a dog.” – Capitol Hill Saying
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Filed under: Coaching Corner, Leading & Developing Other Leaders, Professional Development, Values-Based Leadership Tagged: | business, corruption, ego, John Arbuthnot, leadership, Morality, Politics, power