As the grand final for the Australian Prime Minister's job looms on Monday, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd will be spending their weekends mustering political support for their campaign; Julia's strategy has been direct to the people who are voting, and Kevin's strategy is to deploy the people who influence the people who are voting - the voters.
Who is right and who will win? Who knows. This article is not about who will win or why. It's about what you can learn from both of them for your business.
What you can learn from Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd was ousted from his job in 2010 but did not give up on his dream to return to the top position. There's debate about whether the tactics he has used are appropriate and the facts are not all in about what his specific strategy entailed, but what you can learn for your business is that you should not give up on your objectives when you experience a set back.
If a competitor knocks you out of your position in the market, don't just let them do it; even if the blow is crippling. Pick yourself up and try again. Innovate. Think about what you can do differently. Plan your approach and execute your strategy skillfully. How would Kevin have gone with his "tell your MPs" strategy if had access to an iPhone app where people could vote or tell their local MP in one click or sms?
Something else that you can learn from Kevin Rudd for your business is to keep your competitors guessing. Kevin Rudd has played his moves carefully to maximise uncertainty as to what he would do next. In business if you have an ace up your sleeve don't play it earlier than you need to, instead get the correct protection you need (e.g. a trademark or patent) so that when you do play your card, it is with lasting impact.
What you can learn from Julia Gillard
For one of the first times since she became prime minister, Julia Gillard's "election" speech in response to Kevin Rudd's decision to stand for the leadership showed passion. Passion is essential in business, because if you do not believe in what you are fighting for you will never succeed. You should approach everything you do in business with passion, because otherwise why are you in business at all? Being in business is more than a job, it needs to be part of your personality.
Julia Gillard's catch phrase over the weekend is about her track record "getting things done". Your track record in business is what you will be judged on when you go for extra funding, try to sell your business, expand to new markets or sell advertising to others. So play by the rules in business now, so you can quote your track record tomorrow. And if you have a track record to show off, show it off when you need to - in a way appropriate to your brand values. You don't have to be arrogant to paint your achievements in the best possible light. If you've won an award or have certifications, display them on your website or in your foyer of your shop. What do you see on the wall, when you go to your doctor or lawyer? Those certificates and awards are on display but not in your face.
What you can learn from them both
Business infighting can be as dangerous as political infighting - especially in small businesses where two founding members for example have deeply different views. The organisational culture has a big part to play in preventing epic internal battles like this from taking place. Promote a culture where you can speak openly and resolve issues before they come to a head or else you will be sorry later and it could result in your competitors getting the lead and overtaking you in the market.