Can business learn from politics?

The Lib-Con alliance offers deep insights into how apparently opposing parties can coexist and even deliver credible leadership. It hasn’t been easy. Both parties have a rich heritage in terms of ideals, values and culture. In any other setting, they would be knocking seven bells out of each other. Yet they appear to be working collaboratively. How have they achieved that and what can business learn from their efforts.

To begin with, we can see that there are many similarities between political parties and organisations. Within most businesses there will be opposing views, conflicts of interest, individualist agendas and so on, each acting as a divisive force. Unchecked, this negative energy can lead to stasis or even worse, to decline. How can business leaders harness the energy within the organisation and use it for the good of all stakeholders and not one constituency?

The key must be in having a vision that gets all the individual agendas to fly in formation. That takes clarity of thought and good leadership. The clarity of thought is the heavy lifting that no one likes to do. Taking the time to write a compelling vision does however pay dividends. A great vision transmits who you are, the people that you serve, why they buy from you and how you will deliver that offering. Some consultants push the need for a pithy version to make it memorable and hence “sticky”. We disagree. People like to hear stories, anecdotes and parables. The vision can be in any form. But, a good story, well told, is powerful and this makes it “sticky”.

A meaningful storyboard vision is not enough. Good leaders make the story real. Their telling of the story breathes life into it. They transmit the vision constantly, without hesitation, deviation but with lots of repetition. They energise the story.

Has business anything to learn from politics? The answer is yes. Transmit the vision as if it is a story and keep on telling it.