Politics isn’t leadership and political debate isn’t leading.  Be sure of that.  But by examining the state of the current political landscapes we can certainly learn what not to do from just about every body participating in the current political landscape.

Here’s the biggest no-no to avoid if you are truly interested in leading your team.  The “Ad Hominem” attack.

The dictionary defines this as “attacking the opponent’s motives or character, rather than the policy or position or idea they are proposing.”

It’s rampant in the current debate.  Everyone is called names and everyone’s character is assassinated,  not just the politicians, but their supporters and advocates too.   And it’s easy.   Don’t remember it every being this bad before.  It’s a dirty business.

It might win the election or the debate, but it kills relationships and the trust needed in each other to work together effectively.  It can leave scars that can’t be overcome.

The key to building trust and eventually the team, is the ability to talk frankly and openly about conflict without fear of personal retribution.  When you have dialogue in this manner, you talk about the content, the issue, the solution and then decide on merit.  And you make better decisions the team can commit to, even if some disagreement on the solution occurred.  But when retribution occurs–the name calling, the insults, the dismissive behavior– people won’t contribute their thoughts and ideas.  And then they won’t commit.

All of this is outlined in two separate books by Pat Lencioni:  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and Advantage.

The problem with the current political debate, for me at least, is that it sets such a poor example for the rest of us.  Your team sees it and seems to think it’s okay to bring to discussions at work.

Stick to the facts, the issue, the problem.  Attack the problem.  Don’t attack the people.  Unless of course you really don’t want to have a team.