Ethics and Efficacy
Another parallel I've seen between politics and business is in the two big things I look for in leaders: ethics and efficacy.
Not to get off on too much of a political rant, but we've been awfully short on both of these for the past eight years in Washington. It's clear to me that the country didn't get the full story on Iraq before we were led into war, and war should always be our last resort. War should never be undertaken capriciously. Besides the ethical violation, this war has also wasted thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Beyond that, the Bush adminstration hasn't demonstrated efficacy ("capacity or power to produce a desired effect"). Think of both the abominable handling of Hurrican Katrina, but also the inefficient and slow rebuilding effort.
Luckily, I am much more comfortable with the ethics of both of the Presidential contenders. It's probably not a surprise that I favor Obama over McCain, but I do believe that McCain wants to do what he thinks is right for the country.
It's impossible to judge efficacy. Both come from legislative backgrounds where you have little ability to really get things done. I don't count getting legislation passed as being comparable to building teams and running large organizations. Both campaigns seem to be run very well and both candidates overcame some long odds in order to get their nominations.
The key to efficacy is building and managing the right team. Experience can help with this, but it comes down very much to personal characteristics. I think that a leader seeking efficacy must surround themselves with the strongest possible team, listen to all points of view, remain open-minded when faced with problems, rely on their own ability to make a final decision, and be willing to admit mistakes and make changes. I remember reading in a management book a long time ago: "give credit, take responsibility"
Contrast that with "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"