Loosing a Political Battle – Follow Up

What goes around comes around!

I wrote a post last week about my friend who tried to do the right thing in her firm by complaining about an inept manager but got slapped around due to internal corporate politics. It seems that management has seen the light and will speak to this “zombie manager” to get his house in order. The firm expects a certain level of professionalism and work ethic from all staff regardless of position. If there is no improvement from this manager there will be consequences including and up to termination.

So in the end, while my friend took one for the team, she triumphed. She stayed, fought and won.

My advice to those out there facing similar circumstances – stay true to yourself. Do what you think is best and helps you sleep at night. While there might be unwanted consequences to your actions, in the end you will be justified. It just might take a few weeks or several years.

Loosing A Political Battle

I recently wrote a post about politics in the corporate office (Politico-CIO). I stated that politics was a game with high stakes. Well, in every game there is a winner and a looser.

A recent event involving a friend reiterated to me that loosing a political game is a bitter pill to swallow. It becomes even harder to choke down when you thought you were doing the right thing and in the end you are blamed for it and punished.

I often write about leadership and what it means to be a leader. Where we are all dedicated leaders and competent individuals who are striving for the greater good of the company. In some respects, this my Utopian view of corporate America. In the real world not everyone works to the same level or is as competent as you or I maybe. These are the employees that drag on a company. They are the zombies that add no value to the organization but instead suck the brains out of the living. It becomes even worst when these “zombies” are your chief officers and managers.

The event close to home [I am purposely being vague to protect the people affected] was one such zombie event. Due to restructuring in this firm, an incompetent person became the temporary head of the department. Everyone knows that this person is incompetent and that she tries to cover up her inadequateness by blaming others. Management is aware of the situation but could not do anything about it because the department was in transition until a permanent replacement could be found.

My friend tried to expose this manager by writing a letter to management detailing a recent situation. I cautioned her against writing such a letter stating that this person is politically connected and such a letter might have repercussions. It is best to let this battle go. She felt strongly about the situation and sent the letter. The next day, she was called into HR and reprimanded for the letter’s angry tone and for not supporting this manager. My friend was devastated. She tried to do the right thing but instead she was punished.

Loosing a political battle makes you feel beaten. It is not easy to loose especially when you are right and trying to work for the greater good of the organization. My advice to those out there that have faced or are facing similar problems is this, “Continue on!” You might have lost one battle or several but the war still continues. Choose your battles carefully. If fighting the battle and loosing is too much for you then you should consider moving on. But remember, politics and zombies are everywhere. There is no escaping from them.


Corporate politics is the bane of many executives. It is everywhere in a company. There is no escaping from it. Because of the level the CIO reaches in an organization it is a fact that he/she will be dealing with political issues daily. So if you cannot run from it, it is best to play with in it and win.

Most executives are horrible at politics. Most think they are good at but in truth they are not. It is not their fault. There really is no school to go and learn how to deal with politics. You learn how to deal with politics from the street.

Politics in general has a bad reputation, however, there is also a good side. The good of politics is figuring out how to shape your agenda so it fits in a way that is positive for everyone affected.

A CIO that regurgitates tech jargon and buzz words will not get ahead in the game of politics. Politics is about selling. People make decisions emotionally and use their intellect to rationalize these emotional decisions. If you want to accomplish anything you will need to sell to the decision-makers. That means understanding the decision-makers background and thought process. Like governmental politics it means figuring out who will be on your side, who will fight for you, and who can be persuaded and how.

Now the dark side of politics can be more vicious. Let’s face reality; it is also the most interesting. Backstabbing happens to all of us at some time in our careers. It is the nature of the beast. All you can do is figure who the person is and how they are trying to do it, and plan your moves to counter them. It is a game of chess.

To win, you must always remember that corporate politics is a game with high stakes. Never forget that being a CIO means being a politician first and foremost.

Further reading about corporate politics:

Corporate Politics-The Elephant in the Room by Mark Beckford

Winning At Organizational Politics Without Losing Your Soul by Dan King