Ten Commandments for Political Success

By Donna Lopiano, Ph.D., President, Sports Management Resources

Politics is the art of influencing others to believe or act in a certain way.  Every athletics director and CEO 'politics' daily to get the resources needed for the success of the sport program, from financial resources to facilities.  Here's my top ten list for success in politicking:

1.  Homework.  Do your homework and demonstrate the power of knowledge. Master all facts and details in support of your position. Know more than anyone else about the proposal you want adopted.

2.  Relationship Building.  Be fully committed to relationship building in everything you do. Few athletics directors have power outside their department. Allies are always important when you are trying to manage change or increase resources available to your department.

3.  Give of Yourself.  Work hard, be a good person, always try to help others, and be humble and good things will happen. Give, give, give and you shall receive. Say “yes’ when others ask you to give speeches, be on a committee, write articles, etc. They will be there when you need them.

4.  Be Reasonable-Support Radical.  Make sure your proposal is the “reasonable alternative” rather than the radical solution. Use the materials prepared by radical groups to make your point. Support the existence of such groups with your charitable contributions for this reason.

5.  Longevity.  Longevity is power.   Stay in your position and be a player for as long as you can. Have patience. Avoid making enemies. Persistence is always pushing, cordially and with a sense of humor.

6.  Speak Out.  Speak out whenever you see wrong. Silence is acceptance of the wrong.

7.  Share Knowledge.  Teach others what you know every day of your life. Give freely the gift of knowledge.

8.  Help the Underrepresented.  Always be keenly aware of underrepresented groups and what you can do to help advance them, with your words as well as actions. Sharing power and economic wealth will create a larger economic pie with more ships floating on a higher tide.

9.  Illusion of Confidence.  Be adept at practicing the illusion of power. Don’t be afraid of silence, let them guess what you are thinking. Always dress in the proper uniform for the game. Always act confident and self-assured (not arrogant) even if you are not.

10.  Respect.  Every day, before every decision and interaction with others, ask yourself “Is this the right and fair thing to do and am I doing it in a way which demonstrates respect for others?”