This is something that came up with a coaching client during a session yesterday. A successful VP at a large multinational wanted to know how to play the game! The client was known for being curt with his answers and respond in a manner which irritated others. On the other hand the client feels: "it seems the world out there wants to prove that the I am not good at my job and they don't like me. Neither they understand the complexities of what I do and how difficult it is. I... I don't think I know how to play the game. I don't know how to work when things become grey!! I don't want to play politics"
I understand that is a typical environment in any professional environment where in two individuals or teams interact. I have lived it myself during my corporate life. But I don't think it is reasonable to equate "Playing the game" with Politics. Although I agree that politics in itself is not bad, but it carries a negative connotation none the less. So keeping in mind that everybody thinks politics is bad, I would like to keep it separate from playing the game.
According to me you start playing the game when you stop reacting to your emotions and start thinking logically in the moment the need arises. People who are "emotionally compromised", find it hard to think logically and hence take bad decisions and react poorly. The emotional state clouds your ability to think rationally. You are in a state of protecting yourself (your self defence mechanism kicks in) and react only to save yourself. The moment you have started thinking logically, you have started thinking from all directions and from each person perspective. You are better placed to understand:
- The various options available to you
- The list of actions you can take based on those options
- The potential impact of each action on the environment and you
You playback all these possibilities rationally and choose the best course of action. If you look at the steps above, you will see the closeness with playing chess. And hence the name playing the game!! A great leader is able to do that with ease and every time. The leader is aware of his emotions and is able to manage his emotions. The leader is then able to play the game and enjoy it too!!
So the next question is "how to manage your emotions in the heat of the moment and think logically?". I plan to cover this in the next blog, so keep watching this space :).
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net