Decision Maker: The Politician

Four months and seven weeks ago, I teamed up with a colleague who always seems to have a pulse on what’s happening next; one who has a seemingly in-born knack to take past experiences and transform them into accurate assumptions on the best way to attain an organizational objective; one who feels right at home in the big-picture discussions – The Politician.

Politicians make intuitive decisions to maximize pay-offs over-time. Unlike the Chess-Player who takes more of a threat-avoidant and tactical approach to attaining a win, these employees rely on experience and gut-instinct to support a judgment style guided by long-term strategic orientation. These are the individuals whose pattern of decision-making features an unique alertness to opportunities that have the potential to advance their strategic agendas. Accordingly, they tend to focus on ensuring they can capitalize on the gains they experience and consider how to parlay subsequent winnings as they go.
The skillsets of the Politician excel in contexts with high degrees of ambiguity. For example, companies aggressively pushing forward but with a flat or flexible organizational structure; teams populated by jobs where an eye-on-the-prize mentality is needed to succeed; or places/industries where the goal is clear but the path is not (think strategic consulting firms, companies focused on after sales services, or positions that require an acute birds-eye perspective). But they’ll need to keep a balanced focus on potential threats, by envisioning unlikely long-term scenarios in which their ideas don’t work out. And they’ll need to team up with some detail-oriented implementers to prevent developing a reputation for lacking follow through on their strategic ideas. As Winston Churchill once quipped, “Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year, and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

A leadership team can gain valuable insights by including a Politician on a brainstorming session around long-term plans, or on a project that needs someone to keep others moving through ambiguity and convince them of the mission’s merits, especially if that team is overly threat-avoidant, data-driven, or tactical. I for one look forward to learning more from the decision-making style of the Politician in my organization so I can have a better hone my command of the strategic arts.
Is there a Politician in your organization? How does he or she fit in with the Surgeons, Defense Analysts and Auditors in the company? Let us know how that approach works for your team!
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