Transforming Crippling Company Politics

The UK chief executive officer (CEO) of a large insurance firm faced declining gross written premiums (revenue) in her commercial division. In workshops, her senior managers determined that their work came alive when they appeared on emergency sites to distribute checks. She challenged them, ”Let’s treat customers that way all the time and sell more.” When they wrote vague proposals to care for customers in sales, she hired consultants. Then she missed her profit numbers; the Group CEO fired her.


The consultants continued on and executed her vision. She failed to exercise political power, but did she fail in any of the basics Jeffrey Pfeffer lists in his classic work on power? Did she fail to have a compelling vision? to achieve buy-in? to detail the threat? to have a good power map of the organization? to cultivate relationships with allies and the Group CEO?


She executed the basics of power well. But she worked in a fearful organization where managers instinctively shunned the limelight by pointing to others’ weaknesses. Her managers would casually let slip that her plans might not save profitability. Those casual slips silently became the Group CEO’s defining issue.


Read the full ‘Transforming Crippling Company Politics‘ article by Charles Spinosa, Christopher Davis, Billy Glennon.

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