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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Good Man Hunting in Politics

Where is the line between being a results-demanding boss and an abusive one?  How does this change when the boss is an elected official - or should it?
Our politics if full of Ancient Rites - it's an ancient system that plays by ancient rules, often behind closed doors.  There are a lot of politicians who are amazing bosses, but there are also more than a few that are terrible. 
Every party has its whispered stories - "do you know about XX?" - the boss who shouts and swears, the boss who micromanages, the one who's too friendly or too callous or a poor communicator, keeping staff on pins and needles.
There's not much training for politicians on HR, on communications (as opposed to messaging) or organizational management.  There is even less for staff.  In fact, for many staff it's politicians and their world - receptions, stakeholder meetings, etc. that provide examples of what political conduct should be.
Where Parties are concerned, wins matter.  Conventional wisdom is that wins come at someone else's losses - other parties, bureaucrats, etc.  You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right?  So long as "strong performers" drive results, or raise funds, or hold seats, does anything else really matter?
Such is the reality of our political culture; it's dysfunctional, harmful and creates a negative experiential learning ground for the people who shape public policy.
It doesn't have to be this way.  There are a growing number of better practices on how to establish positive workplace cultures, nurture effective leadership and engaged employees to foster superior, dynamic results.
What's lacking is will. 
Change is hard, plus this particular kind of change requires some people used to having a great deal of power letting go a little.  It also involves a lot of self-regulation that many a competitive, win-focused pol isn't interested in.
Besides, this is one of those things you can't poke at others to do, because they've got the goods on you, too.  It is far, far easier to maintain a certain cross-partisan omerta than to actually address the issue.  Plus, who are we kidding?  Politics is too busy and the people too disinterested for there to be worthwhile ROI on culture change.
Until, that is, people do care.
Are they starting to?  Are the costs of the status quo starting to be evident enough to allow for culture change to be seen as a worthwhile investment?  Can any one party change first and gain advantage over the other by doing so, without putting themselves in political crosshairs?  What actual individuals are at great risk, putting their partisan brand at risk too, should their business-as-usual practices come to light?
This is the opportunity, plus the barriers around it. 
I maintain the position I've always had - we will never move forward is we're focused on who should be brought down.  The only way to progress collaboratively is through a commitment to leaving no one behind.

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