Be Careful Politicking for the Job You Already Have

September 26th, 2012

“Be careful politicking for the job you already have.” -Alan Burkhard

This is a favorite phrase of Burkhard leaders. Politicking for the job you already have is like getting a penalty in football for excess celebration in the end zone.  We all know that players should look like they have been there before – that they have experienced the thrill of making a touchdown; however, if his teammates can see it from the bench than the celebration is just too much. The player’s job is to score the touchdown, not spike the football, jump into the crowd, or do a back flip. At the same time, this type of showmanship is what makes a game exciting – not to mention improve ratings and boost ticket sales. I get it. It comes with the territory.

In our culture, acting like you “have been there before” is expected. We know what to recognize and how to celebrate it.  However, I can assure you it will not be for doing what is expected.  This might seem harsh, and perhaps it is.  However, what all of us really want is to thrive in an accountable environment.  In the event that a weak employee is shown the door, some may applaud and ask the leader, “What took you so long?”.  Some may snicker when a co-worker takes too much (or misplaced) credit for doing what is expected.

The aforementioned scenarios are not uncommon in the workplace, and I am sure as a leader you have experienced variations of these situations within your team. For employees within a team, remember: practice caution when seeking approval or acknowledgment from your leader. Stay cognizant of the big picture – as the old saying goes, “There’s no I in team”. For leaders, the same is applicable when seeking approval from your peers. George Van Valkenburg once said, “Leadership is doing what is right when no one’s watching.”

Still not sure what I mean by politicking for the job you already have? Leaders, think about it like this:

  • Be careful about seeking credit for projects completed and deals won. When a goal is achieved, make sure to give the credit to the team or to others.  Leaders can’t do anything without the belief and efforts of their team.
  • Be cautioned about summarizing what you have done. Seems so innocent right?  Well no, the organization knows what you have achieved.  There is no reason to brag or pitch the results.
  • Focus on thanking those that achieved the results through your people. Focus on where you’re headed and what needs to be done to achieve it.

Promotions, raises, and bonuses don’t come when we do our jobs or meet expectations. They don’t happen when we draw attention to ourselves.  And I can’t throw a yellow flag for too much bragging.  What I can do is point you in the right direction.

Being proud of what you have achieved is more than okay as a leader. However, the focus of your communication needs to be on something completely different.  Act like you have been there before.  Recognize those involved. “Be lavish with the approbation.” is what Dale Carnegie would say.  More importantly, show us what you are going to do, how you are going to get there, and how I can help you achieve something wonderful, or better yet – something completely unexpected!

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