Can Political Correctness Hamper Leadership?

“Political correctness” is defined as a descriptor of the considered use of euphemisms or terms and phrases that are less offensive. Some see it as selective censorship; others refer to the practice as consideration for others’ sensibilities.  However defined, the main problem with politically correct thinking is that it confuses kindness and courtesy with bureaucratic mandates, and can strip people (leaders) of their real opinions.

There are reasons why leaders embrace having a politically correct mindset – usually for the pursuit of position and advancement of individual goals and the ambition to climb the career ladder.  For some there is the opinion that to create winners, losers must exist.  And some leaders do not hesitate to step on others during the course of their climb.

Sadly, these leaders in the face of conflict, dissension, threats, or controversy, tend to default to denial, justification and rationalization. Leaders that do not want to rock the boat hide in the safety of the majority and coast along without making any waves instead of taking the risk of being outspoken, innovative, disruptive, challenging, convicted, bold, controversial or truthful. Therein lays the problem with political correctness.

What makes a great leader is that they are able to let the facts and/or the truth surrounding a particular matter rise above the rhetoric and guide their actions rather than to blindly adopt an attitude of political correctness. Good leaders keep themselves informed of what is going on around the organization and are adept at recognizing times and events where politics will most likely occur and resolving them before they arise.

Therefore, these great leaders are not politically correct but are politically savvy.  Yes, there is a difference. Political savvy means putting political agendas and peer pressure aside and not making choices based upon public opinion but rather by benchmarking decisions against the question of “is it the right thing to do?”  Instead of hiding, these leaders embrace organizational politics and deal with it.  These political savvy leaders not only balance the demands of all stakeholders but also develop strategies to convert adversaries, internal and external, into allies by recognizing the importance of human dynamics in organizational power-politics.  Here are some other characteristics of great leaders who are political savvy:

  • Chooses to become an active, ethical player:  open and honest
  • Believes in and cares about the issue at hand:  tries to find solutions and not afraid to give opinion
  • Uses power effectively to get things done:  uses influence when necessary
  • Spreads the credit:  gives credit where deserved

What are your thoughts on political correctness?

photo credit


About Patricia Knight
Hello and welcome. My name is Patricia Knight. Thank you for taking the time to view my blog. I’m a Human Resources professional who is currently pursing an MBA at the University of Nevada-Reno. I am an analytical, detail-oriented professional who believes that collaboration and negotiation are critical for successful employee relations between leadership and employees.

2 Responses to Can Political Correctness Hamper Leadership?

  1. Michelle Fox says:

    Great Post Patricia.

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