Most of us have witnessed or participated of office politics at some point in our careers. What do you do in such a situation? Do you embrace it or avoid it? This Idea shows that contrary to the popular opinion that office politics is ‘bad’, politically savvy executives actually excel in their careers and make effective leaders.
Is organizational politics good or bad, or does it even exist? This seems to be a debated topic, with many executives (especially women) finding office politics difficult to embrace. Female executives seem to be particularly uncomfortable with incorporating political skills/behaviours into their repertoire. But it’s not just females that view politics negatively; in general, political behaviour tends to be viewed as self-serving, and even at times akin to bullying.
But what if engaging in politically savvy behaviour could actually help you be more effective in your role, and help to build the capacity to lead an organization? According to this Idea, this is in fact the case.
Politics is neither good nor bad; rather, it is a neutral and natural part of organizational life. Rather than avoid or ignore it, politically savvy individuals can use their influence in an authentic and sincere manner. Ultimately, all the parties involved will get something positive out of this.
CCL® surveyed 334 participants in its Leadership Development Programs and Women’s Leadership Programs in 2004–05. They found that those who are ‘politically savvy’ have better career prospects and trajectories, and are seen as more promotable. In particular, the following behaviours seem to vary according to how politically savvy an individual is:
Despite all the positive information on politics, it remains a fact that female executives are still less likely than male executives to find themselves in situations where opportunities for promotion, access to mentors and encouragement to take risks exists. These unique barriers make it more critical than ever for them to embrace and develop political savvy skills.
So what are politically-savvy skills should executives work to bring out in order to ensure effectiveness in any political environment? The following four approaches are recommended:
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