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Eureka: Random rules in politics
by Jay Gutman
2017-03-12 12:09:47
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Having had a quiet political life in various small organizations and associations, from president to vice-president to cabinet or secretarial positions, here are a few rules that I’ve complied. The rules stem from mistakes I’ve seen at small organizations or associations but also at large governments and organizations. The rules are in no particular order.

politic011- Words don’t mean action unless stated so

I’ve seen many organizations take recommendations and suggestions or even random comments as an indication to take action. I know that in some countries it’s considered rude or demeaning to specifically state that action must be taken. But if someone says “it’s hot in here!” don’t rush to open the windows or to turn on that air conditioner. Same goes with any other comment or suggestion. Think, discuss, decide to take action, then take action.

2- Know your members and colleagues but don’t let one or two of their features blind you

Black people don’t like being told they’re black. Jewish people don’t like being told they’re Jewish. Women don’t like being told they’re women. The world is trying to tell Muslims that they probably shouldn’t talk about their faith, but other than that we like them. Rich people don’t like being told they’re rich. When selecting people for a cabinet, focus on the wide range of tasks that they can get done for you, not on who they are or what label they belong to. And don’t say you’re North Korean unless you have the passport. Grandparents born in North Korea but yourself being born in K-Town LA or in Flushing, New York doesn’t qualify you as North Korean. Just a trend I’ve been noticing.    

3- Pick members who know how to tell accurate stories

If you’re leading a team, your team members will be on the field somewhere getting work done. You don’t want them doing stuff behind your back, or pretending to do stuff behind your back. Accurate storytelling will be your best friend in politics.

4- There’s a difference between getting a lot of work done and working hard

If you’re putting a lot of pressure when working, it probably means you don’t know how to get the tasks done. Working hard and under pressure or zealously means you’re not sure how to get the tasks done. Ask how it’s done, look up how it’s done, and if you find no answer to how it’s done, or you constantly have to look up how tasks are done, that means you’re probably in the wrong job. That’s what you went to college for, to learn how to do your job without constantly googling how to do it. If your boss doesn’t tell you how it’s done, it probably means you should change jobs. Because your boss won’t tell you a lot of things you should know.

5- The longer your critics and enemies talk, the better

The more an enemy talks, the more information he or she can reveal about themselves, the more mistakes they will make in their reasoning. The more they criticize you, the more mistakes you can point out in their criticism.

6- Choose people who finish what they start

Politics is mostly about tasks. Tasks that need to be completed. You’ll be surprised how many people start a lot of projects, but don’t finish any. Look for people who finish what they start.

7- If there’s tension, find out what was taken as a punishment

Most tensions arise when decisions are perceived as punishments. “We need to work longer hours so we can complete this project and accomplish this and that” works a lot better than “we need to work longer hours.” Make sure what you say as a leader doesn’t sound like a punishment.

8- Budget cuts can have harmful effects

A town had many people who lived on welfare. Then there were welfare cuts. Then the businesses where the welfare recipients shopped had to shut down and more people needed to be on welfare. Before playing with the budget make sure you see beyond the numbers.

9- The medial loves scandals

Start every public declaration with “we had a very productive meeting and it all went well.”

10- Old French lady thought François Hollande was François Mitterrand

Whether you lead a small or large organization, average people have no idea what goes on at the political level. Don’t mistake day to day tasks with public image. Focus on the day to day tasks. Let public image design itself.

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