When I took on my first major assignment in the police service – as the Police Commissioner of Trivandrum City – I got a lot of unsolicited advice.
A common one was, “Be very careful! The politics is very dirty and many people will be out to get you.”
Apparently, the police associations, junior officers, and politicians – all would play politics and I would have to survive it, as if it was some Survivor reality show.
And if I wasn’t crafty enough, I would end up in trouble and be removed ignominiously from the ‘coveted post.’
However, I decided to ignore all the advice and just do the right thing – no favors, no compromise, no need to please anyone.
And surprisingly, I really did not see much politics. Overwhelmingly, the policemen and officers were very loyal. If you showed courage, they showed even more.
I am not saying everyone was perfect, but it felt like any other straightforward job.
I believe that politics often starts at the top. If the leader tries to be clever and self-serving, why would the people below be different?
I ran the City Police for three years until I was so exhausted that I requested the Chief Minister to relieve me, so I could do my MBA applications and leave. And that is what I did.
I am not claiming that this approach will always work out. Maybe I had very honest seniors and political bosses. Maybe corporate organizations are different – I don’t know.
But most often, the best antidote to politics is to just ignore it and do the job right.
And if the organization doesn’t respect you for it, they don’t deserve you. Find a better one.