Performance Versus Politics; Advice On Playing the Game

The year was 2004, and I was at my first Nexstar General Manager meeting in New York City.  On the first night of the event, all of the attendees gathered in the hotel lobby for cocktails.  When the C.E.O., C.O.O. and Executive Vice Presidents of the company walked in, everyone gathered around these very powerful people and the gamesmanship began.  I was not even a full-GM at the time.  My official title was Interim General Manager.  To say I felt out of place would be a huge understatement.  After about 30-minutes of hovering in the back of the crowd, our C.O.O., Duane, motioned for me to follow him to an area away from the group.  Duane was someone I looked up to and I thought of him as my mentor.  Duane said something that evening that I have never forgotten, “Pruitt, politics will never replace performance. You’ve earned your place here.  Relax and have a good time.  Just be yourself.”

A few weeks ago, my son who just completed his commitment to the Marines posted something on his FaceBook mentioning other Marines who ranked-up quicker than he did.  His comment was something about Marines who rank-up quickly are ass kissers and that was not his style.

After considering both my situation in 2004 and my son’s situation in the Marines, the best advice I could give someone would be this; Politics do not replace performance, but solid performance combined with a willingness to fit in will get you the farthest in the long run.  Nobody says you have to be a kiss-ass, but you are never going to get the pay raise and/or the promotion if all you do is swim against the current.

A quote that comes to mind is this; “The boss may not always be right, but the boss is always the boss.”