>> Stuttgart 30.04.2016

Today I write the first blog about Leadership, respectively leadership which negatively disrupts start-ups, SMEs and investor projects.

This blog focusses on what I would like to call the politician. This means that the success of the company is not necessarily in focus, more the profilation of the individual manager.


The classical politician is classically found in middle management, the weaker partner in a start up or a case manager by an investor.

So what is a political leader?  I like to characterise a political leader as an individual who is not really able to carry out the job. This person generally has little idea of sales and lacks creativity.  The person tries to get their fingers into as many pies as possible as to deflect from their own weaknesses and has a speciality of pitching stakeholders against each other in oder to show up the weaker link elsewhere.

You may ask, how can small companies get „politicians“ on board? How does that individual get away with it?

The answer here is simple.  The politician is generally a charismatic individual, he or she can talk well, dress well and give a general air of confidence about themselves.

How can you tell if you have a politician on board?

Again this answer is relatively simple, here are the classical signs of a leadership individual who is the politician?

Of course it is best to work out whether you are speaking to a politician in an initial interview although this is not always easy.

A politician needs a lot of stroking and positive attention

A politician tends to blame everyone else and is not able to reflect upon him/herself

A politician will generally be very focussed on their appearance – i.e. expensive clothing and flashy car

When you start really delving into processes and especially approach sales, you will find that once you reach a certain depth, there is little what they can say.

A politician likes to take the ideas of others and sell them as their own ideas

A politician quickly creates friction in a team by pitting the individuals against each other and cleverly selling themselves to upper management

The politician likes to be involved in the interesting processes like travelling, being involved in flag ship projects, having a lot of social media attention without really have been the influencer to get the flag ship projects in the first place.

The politician likes to hire people on board who are friends and family, to increase his/her status in the company and delegate processes to them which are already working.

The politician will try to block team efforts to improve the situation and block outside influencers like consulting companies to accelerate business, if he/she feels that this could reveal their weaknesses to upper management.

And finally, should the politician lose his / her job, they will continue to try to create as much damage by disrupting possible company development through gossip and befriending the other stakeholders to take action or not take decisions which are critical to the success of a company.

Please be careful when reading through the above.  A politician will show most of the traits. As no one is perfect all of us may show one or the other characteristics.

Politically driven leaders bring very little to the table and have the potential to ruin a company very quickly.

The best way to counteract, should you recognise your middle manager to be a politician which brings knowledge to a table is to ensure that each person in the team or division to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and a very transparent communication and reporting system internally so that the politician does not have the ability to work their tentacles deep within the framework.

Keep a look out when a team which seems to be working is starting to get disrupted, where the costs go up but sales go down or where the politician seems only to try and save costs rather than promoting profit centers.

Over my 18 years of business I have come across these leadership individuals time and time again. My findings are that these individuals usually suffer from inferiority complexes themselves. They themselves need a management which supports them and gives them constructive criticism and makes their management style transparent, so that they are forced to manage correctly.  However micro management is negative, time consuming and not constructive for a good business environment. I especially write this for start-ups, small companies and to investors who rely heavily on their case managers to keep an eye out for these individuals.

Why do I call these leaders political? They create a negative atmosphere within a company where people fear what they say or do incase it gets reported to management, they fear to be productive and bring good ideas in as the politician generally will shoot down the idea and use it later him/herself for personal gain. This atmosphere is company internal politics and is a killer for all companies.

Should you feel that you have problems here or an individual that is doing this to the team, please do not hesitate to contact us. Maybe we can help you achieve equilibrium and get the productivity and sales working again.

Andrew Lawrence