Your boss has political capital. He/she may have spent some of it when they hired you (if everyone didn’t agree on your hire). When you upset other leaders in the organization, your boss must cash in more political capital to regain peace. He/she does not have an unlimited supply of political capital. To ensure a longitudinal track record with your company, minimize the number of times that you cause your boss to use political capital on you.
How do you do that? You can start by cleaning up your own messes. If you’ve upset the apple cart at work, pick up the apples and apologize for your actions. If you’ve caused hurt feelings to a team or an individual, deal directly with that team or the individual and solve the issue. Consider it a failure if you have to request intervention from your boss to solve a disagreement or argument at the office. You should be able to resolve your own issues. Use your boss’ influence as a last resort, after you have tried diligently to resolve the issues yourself.
When you take on an assignment and perform poorly, your boss must spend political capital to explain your performance. When you look bad, he/she looks bad. Over time, repeated withdrawals from your boss’ bank of political capital will be harmful for your continued job success. Your employability and “promotability” depends heavily on your ability to appreciate the limited amount of political capital that your boss has.
Learn to protect your boss’ political capital and you will ultimately protect your job over time.
Bethany Williams is an expert in business development and healthcare operations. She has held high level positions at IDX Systems Corporation, GE Healthcare, Perot Systems Corporation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Williams shares her stories and helpful tips on career success through her book, Winning Strategies for Women, and a popular motivational blog. She volunteers as a life coach and mentor for employees around the globe through her website and personal one-to-one visits. She currently works as an executive at a big four accounting firm and lives in Dallas with her husband, Michael, and her three children. You can find her on the web at www.bethanywilliams.org.