Most of us probably look forward to getting into a heated political conversation at work just about as much as we look forward to a long afternoon at the dentist. While it’s probably best to stay clear of debating hot button issues at work, there are still plenty of lessons for leaders to learn from election season. Ditch the polls and forget red versus blue, here are the top takeaways from the election that every leader should consider:
 People Want to be Heard
There’s a feeling that comes with being able to cast a vote; it’s that feeling that your voice is being heard and will make an impact in decision making. The power of this feeling is as strong in the workplace as it is in the voting booth. Leaders are decision makers for a reason, but these decisions only become stronger when input is gathered from a variety of sources. When choices are made for an entire team without considering different points of view, true collaboration suffers. Leaders should always encourage open communication in order to instill a sense of empowerment in the decision making process.
There are Many Ways to Vote
Early voting, absentee ballots, a Tuesday morning trip in onesie pajamas – there are tons of ways to vote! Similarly, there are many ways for leaders to encourage participation in the workplace. In order to open up communication and show that the office values each employee’s voice, leaders can encourage an exchange of ideas in both public and private ways. One-on-one, face-to-face meetings or regularly scheduled group huddles can help teammates understand a variety of perspectives and share their feedback openly. Alternatively, an electronic-based, anonymous platform can allow teammates to share text-based comments, concerns and encouragement in a forum that is low pressure and removes the fear of retaliation. However leaders choose to do it, finding the right communication process that matches the corporate culture is key.
Stay Safe with Social Media
The internet has a long memory, but social media encourages gut reactions being shared immediately. These two opposing forces can trip up leaders quickly! Before engaging in a hearty back-and-forth via any social channel, remember to keep all potential audiences in mind and review your posts before clicking, “share.” In most cases, it is helpful to step away from the device for a minute, gather thoughts and rethink posting any heated response or charged content (the same goes for email!)
Negativity is Draining
If you’ve sat through any political advertisements on TV, you know the effect a constant barrage of negativity can have on an audience. Low blows, personal attacks and mean spirited comments will only go so far until they begin zapping the energy out of your teammates. Rather than focusing on the negatives of a proposed plan or individual’s performance, work to cultivate a culture focused on making a positive impact that develops constructive criticism along the way towards achieving goals. Sure, there’s always room for venting now and then, but don’t allow your leadership to be tied to negativity only.
Elections can bring about the best or the worst in people; it’s up to leaders to focus on the positive and bring out the best in their teammates. Do you have any leadership tips to share this election season? Make your voice heard in the comment section below!