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How to Win a Bitter Leadership Contest

| March 19, 2013

by Jim Bruce

Anna Mar, engagement manager and senior writer at posits that open positions in your organization are precursors to contests.  This piece was suggested by Bill Allison, an ITLP alum who is Director, Campus Technology Services at the University of California, Berkeley.  Bill noted that the short piece is valuable even when the leadership contest isn’t bitter and isn’t a contest.

Mar argues that if you are a viable candidate for the position you should make six strategic moves:

  1. Start assuming responsibilities when the position becomes vacant, seek permission to assume some/all of those responsibilities.  This is parallel to something Jack McCredie, former CIO at Berkeley has said:  If you see something that needs to be done, do it.
  2. Ask for it.  Let the decision makers know that you are definitely interested in the position.  And, be patient with the process.
  3. Make your goals public – at the right time and in the right way.  Let people know that you are a candidate for the role.  You want others to visualize you in the role.
  4. Play fair – don’t bad mouth other candidates for the position.  And, be transparent in what you do and don’t be presumptuous in your doing of it.
  5. Be positive stupid – focus on what you have to offer not on what you’re owed!
  6. Work hard – and deliver everything you have especially in the final stretch.

And, always remember, failure is an option.  Often, when an individual campaigns for a position and doesn’t succeed, he or she loses interest, becomes disengaged, an frequently leaves.  This is often a mistake.  You have valuable skills, learn from your experience, tune your leadership skills, and continue to step up.

Do think about what lies before you and take one of those appropriate opportunities as they appear.

. . . jim