Besides the vagaries of fortune (and luck is a huge force in the universe), what could differentiate a successful person from a failure? What defines a successful leader?

According to Samuel Bacharach, co-founder of the Bacharach Leadership Group, successful leadership is defined by the ability to gather support for an idea and inspire others to collaborate with you and help bring that idea to life. Regardless of the quality of the initiatives you would like to push forward, you cannot lead without possessing highly developed political skills. In the absence of good political skills, the brightest plans will die on the vine. A good schedule will never be realized and a legacy will be greatly diminished.

Bacharach says the essence of such competition is the ability to understand what you can and cannot control. Identify who will support the initiative, who will oppose it, and when is the right time to go public and move on. Those with the ability to get things done also take the time to think things through.

The politically astute will not advance alone with naivety or arrogance, but will win over the right people and build a coalition to take on the project. “Anticipating the obstacles your idea might face when you present it is a political skill that can help you cross the finish line,” says Bacharach. Smart leaders will consult with one or two trusted allies to test their concept in reality, create a list of potential allies and naysayers, decide who to recruit for the launch team, calculate the best time to move forward, and create an implementation strategy. .

Knowledge of political skills means how to lay out the terrain of the battlefield, convince people to join your team, and lead a coalition. The best ideas don’t always win, but the best ideas thrown out always have a good chance of seeing the light of day. The influential and highly respected people in life are undoubtedly the luckiest, but they also have exceptional political skills.

Some are born with a highly developed “gene” for political ability, but any of us can improve our skill level. As noted above, taking the time to think through the arc of developing and implementing an initiative is a good place to start. Who is likely to support you? Who is interested in seeing the project carried out? What can you do to let potential partners see that supporting the project will benefit them? Which of your allies is powerful enough to make things happen and bring other high-ranking players to your team?

Next, who can be detractors, active or passive? Who will be threatened by a perceived (or actual) loss of power and influence if your plan is put into action? Who could withhold resources (funding) or start a whispering campaign to undermine it? Can your team overcome these issues? Are there cultural, historical, or other barriers that you might face?

Forming your winning coalition is the third step. Work only with those you trust and respect and you can be sure that the feeling is mutual. Be sure to compile a list of persuasive benefits that will help you sell the merits of your idea to those who have the power to make it happen.

You may want to approach political terrain mapping as strategic planning and perform a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), to help you visualize the resources you have, any gaps in your war chest, obstacles you are likely to encounter. face and opportunities that can strengthen your position down the road. Anticipate the arguments that will be presented against you. Sell ​​the benefits that will overcome those arguments and convince (powerful) allies to support your position. Collaborate with followers to bring your initiative to life. Be an effective leader.

Thank you for reading,

Kim

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