Whose Agenda Is It Anyway?

Achieving a win-win situation

Everyone has an agenda; it just need not be the same as yours. Often times “He/She has an agenda”, is a term that is loosely used in a negative connotation. Now the question I want to ask is, “Is it wrong for people to have personal agendas?”

In my mind there is nothing wrong with people having agendas. However, when you lead a team of people, this may pose a challenge in terms of aligned goals. As leaders, if we are able to recognize this, accept it, and largely be able to align other people’s agendas with what we are trying to accomplish and with the larger organizational goals, then, I believe we have done our job.

I remember as a young leader, I often used to get frustrated with my teams when they did not understand my vision. With maturity, I understood that it is not that they did not understand what I am stating, but they are fighting their own battles driven by their own personal needs, ambitions, biases, and prejudices.


As with a lot of things in life, we have to start by recognizing and accepting that everyone is different. This holds true for people and their agenda too. It is important to understand everyone comes with their own agenda, and it is okay!


Stating your vision, communicating your objectives, and stating why you are doing certain things the way you are doing it with openness and clarity will largely align your team to your goal.

As a leader, how you manage your agendas can have a direct impact on not only your reputation but also your associations and ultimately the preferred outcomes that you are trying to attain.


Understanding others’ agendas without them explicitly stating them is often challenging. This is where your listening skills help. A safe environment where people can express themselves is also very important to understand where your team member is coming from.

Managing others’ agendas

As a leader, the onus is on you to not only manage your own agenda but to be aware of others’ agendas and manage it. This is an added responsibility that a leader must fulfill.

If you do not understand this and deal with this from the onset, you might find that certain people in your team are manifesting behavior patterns that are not aligned with their roles. For example, the conversation could always just be about themselves, they might portray aggressive body language, be manipulative, etc. This is because they are feeling undermined, undervalued, and unsure about their own future and goals.

Leadership is more often than not a matter of impact. Who do you feel safe with? Who must you test? Who can you trust? Who do you think will disrupt what you are trying to build? A leader must constantly be aware of the dynamics that exist in the workplace. That is the only way to move ahead successfully, and this cannot be done alone. It is therefore crucial to manage the agendas of others as much as your own.

Also, if your leadership agenda does not align with the others in your team, it can lose momentum. One should be ready to lose some individuals who do not align with your agenda.


As a leader, if you can recognize and respond to unspoken agendas rather than being angry and frustrated about it, it can be a highly beneficial skill that truly sets you apart.

One can cultivate this by mindful listening, understanding diverse outlooks and motivations, and the readiness to ask questions and participate in positive discussions when needed. When done correctly, it can help everyone involved come away satisfied that their needs have been met or at least deliberated.

As a leader, taking the time to recognize what is truly motivating people’s actions will lead to increased collaboration and better outcomes. Of course, if nothing aligns, it’s also okay to let go!

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