Election 2016: How Leaders Can Keep Employees Focused on Work, Not Politics

DENVER, Aug. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — As the Presidential election heats up, employees are spending more time watching the news, checking their social media accounts and hanging out by the water cooler discussing the candidates – all at the expense of lost productivity and possibly igniting personnel conflicts that will simmer long after the votes are cast.

“This election year is running high on emotion, ugly rhetoric, and polarization. Unfortunately, some of the angst associated with the issues of the election are creeping into the workplace. People are angry. Angry people are less productive. What does a great leader do?” asks Mary C. Kelly, PhD., co-author of the new leadership book, “Why Leaders Fail.

She and co-author, Peter B. Stark created a list of five guidelines for leaders who want to succeed:

  1. Raise the bar and set expectations for performance. Employees who have a lot of time to talk about politics do not have enough to do. Make it clear to your teams that what we do is important, and we need everyone to focus on doing their job to succeed.
  2. Demand a culture of respect. Make sure everyone knows that there will always be differences of opinions, but in the workplace we will always have a culture of respect. You don’t have to like other people’s opinions, but you do have to respect the fact that they are entitled to opinions that are different from yours. You may not like someone’s politics, but that doesn’t mean you get to disrespect them.
  3. Remind employees of uniting factors. Ultimately what unites us is a desire to work, provide for our families, and make a difference in the world. We all want to be successful, support others, and be a positive role model in the community. Remind people that at work, we need to stay focused on what unites us: the mission, vision and goals of the company.
  4. Agree to disagree. Leaders know not everyone is going to agree on every decision or every issue, and that is true in the workplace as well as politics Allow people the freedom to respectfully discuss, but make sure the diatribe remains thoughtful, civil, and respectful.
  5. Limit distractions. Most of our clients in the business world have one thing in common. They complain they have way too much to do and not enough time to get all their work done. We cannot waste time with distraction. Leaders can help limit distractions by holding people accountable for the on-time achievement of their goals.

Emotions are running high this year because voters perceive that their leaders have failed them.

In their 2016 book, “Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success” the authors analyze why good people, when promoted, hired or elected, so often fail.

One of the top failures happens when leaders lose the trust of the people they are supposed to lead.

“Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose,” said Stark, CEO of Peter Barron Stark Companies says. “And it can happen when leaders often are not paying attention to what matters to their people.”

Another failure is when leaders try so hard to be popular that they allow their need to be l­­iked to interfere or even dictate their decision. “We all want to be liked on some level,” agrees Kelly, CEO of Productive Leaders, “but relying on popularity to run an organization guarantees failure.”

Good leadership is difficult and it can be tough, especially when the employees are worried about outside influences. Leaders have to stay focused so their people stay focused. Leadership means making decisions that are right for the organization and its people.

The new book by Stark and Kelly also shows what leaders need to do to succeed and includes a complimentary leadership assessment.

About the Authors

Stark and Kelly are award-winning authors of best-selling books including “The Competent Leader,” “The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need,” “Master Your World,” and “15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy.”

As leadership experts, they have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Money Magazine, NBC, and USA Today.

Mary C. Kelly specializes in business growth through executive leadership development. Her company, Productive Leaders, provides all levels of corporate training and coaching. They help leaders with the tools they need to improve morale, cultivate teamwork, enhance productivity, and increase profitability.

Peter B. Stark is the President of Peter Barron Stark Companies. He and his team partner with clients to build organizations where employees love to come to work. Peter and his team are experts in employee engagement surveys, leadership and employee development, team building, and executive coaching.


Mary C. Kelly, PhD, Commander, US Navy, Retired

Peter B. Stark

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