Unless Your Business is Politics, Keep Politics Out of Your Business

Last Updated Jan 7, 2011 4:01 PM EST

Keep Politics Out of Your Business Yesterday, Glenn Beck announced that he was hiring former Huffington Post CEO Betsy Morgan to head his new website, The Blaze. In case you didn't know, Beck is a conservative and the Huffington Post leans the other way.

Anyway, the ideological flip-flop sent shockwaves through the blogosphere. According to Gawker.com's From HuffPo to Glenn Beck With One Mighty Excuse:

Hmm. Isn't there something troubling about leaping from one ideological organization to an opposite one so quickly? Morgan has a compelling explanation.

She said in an interview, "I am a very apolitical person. I'm a business person, who is absolutely fascinated by brands."

Kudos to you for your demonstration of the fact that money knows no ideology, Betsy Morgan. Just business, nothing personal, right? Blame not the business persons of the world; they were just following orders.

The New York Times wrote:
The appointment of Ms. Morgan to The Blaze (which Mr. Beck named after the biblical story of Moses and the burning bush) raised some eyebrows at The Huffington Post because of her shift to a polar opposite political point of view.
Then there was Business Insider's: WHOA: Former HuffPo CEO Betsy Morgan Will Now Run Glenn Beck's Site The Blaze; and Mediaite.com's: Strange Bedfellows: Former HuffPost CEO Betsy Morgan To Head Up Glenn Beck's The Blaze; and on and on.

Clearly, a big chunk of the media world doesn't get why politics didn't - and shouldn't - enter into the equation, so let me explain how this this works in the real world:

Ms. Morgan is a professional. According to the press release, she boosted the number of site visitors at the Huffington Post from 4 to 22 million and doubled its ad revenue in two years. Prior to that, Morgan spent 10 years at CBS News as vice president of the news division and digital sector and later as head of CBSNews.com and senior VP of CBS Interactive (which now includes CNET and BNET, incidentally). She's also a Harvard Business School graduate.

This woman is a pioneer of interactive news. Running and growing Internet-based news businesses is her expertise. It's her core competency. It's what she does. I didn't need to read her quote to know that politics doesn't even enter into the equation for her. Why? Because politics isn't her business.

You see, if you're a serious professional, if you mean business, if you aspire to climb the corporate ladder to great heights or be a successful entrepreneur, here's some advice that will serve you well: Leave your political leanings at home. If you don't, you're making the mother of all career-limiting choices.

Think of it this way: Unless Your Business is Politics, Keep Politics Out of Your Business. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Political leanings are, by definition, polarizing. By expressing your views, you risk immediately turning half the people you work and interact with - customers and vendors, too - against you.
  2. Political leanings won't bolster you when times are good. When business is on an upswing, everyone's happy and life is good. Nobody gives a damn about politics.
  3. Political leanings won't save you when times are hard. When business is in decline, top executives make smart decisions to protect their business. They could care less whether you lean left or right. They're not paid to let their personal views influence their decisions.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that politics doesn't impact the corporate and business world. Of course it does, big-time. I mean, we're a nation of laws and, well, guess who makes the laws? That's right, politicians. I blog about that all the time.

But that's very different from an individual, a successful or aspiring manager, executive, or entrepreneur bringing their political leanings into the workplace and allowing it to effect their career decisions, or customer and coworker relationships.

You know, I once had a CEO - of a public high-tech company - who leaned right. And yes, he let it be known. Some of the execs, even some customers, had a problem with that. But what did he care? After all, most of the board directors leaned right too.

When business was good, he got to keep his job. But wouldn't you know it, when the company lost its way, primarily due to his bad decision-making; he got the boot, just the same. True story.

So you see, there's no upside to bringing politics to the workplace, only downside. I guess I could say that business only goes up or down, not left or right. But that's just corny.

Image Courtesy Flickr user ms.Tea