At Hogan we often speak of how leaders use their personalities to “get ahead” and “get along” at work. Both functions are equally important – effective leaders must be able to achieve goals, but must also be able to work with and through others to do so. It simply isn’t enough to be a hard-charging idealist, you must also be willing and able to compromise with, negotiate with, and influence others to be successful. Unfortunately, with the current state of the U.S. government, it feels as though the entire “get along” side of the equation has been lost.
I believe that the balance between getting ahead and getting along is especially important, and particularly challenging, in government leadership, which is designed to include (at least) two opposing forces that possess virtually equal power at any given time. I would argue that the success of our political system depends in large part on our leaders’ ability to:
- Engage in healthy, productive conflict while avoiding dysfunctional disagreements
- Promote their values and objectives while also collaborating and compromising with those who are actively promoting very different ideals
- Adhere to a platform and plan while also being able to recognize unproductive approaches and change course when needed
- Pursue the goals of their specific constituencies while also working for the good of the nation as a whole
- Work in a passionate and devoted manner while remaining objective and not letting decisions be clouded by bruised feelings or interpersonal vendettas
My call to the U.S. Congress – whether Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, or Independent: stop trying to get ahead and start trying to get along! Leaders who do not possess the complementary capabilities of being able to advocate and achieve their goals while also bringing others into the fold and assuring mutual success not only fail as individuals, but more importantly fail their followers.
Please comment on this blog and share your thoughts on the topic. For instance:
- What unique challenges might government leaders face compared to private sector leaders?
- What techniques could government leaders use to balance the “get ahead” and “get along” components of the leadership equation?
- Are there lessons learned in the corporate world that may apply to government leadership and mitigate the dysfunction we are seeing now?
- Does the academic literature – regarding team functioning, conflict management, leadership practices or personality in general – offer specific insight that might be beneficial to our current government leaders?