Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Political Awareness: Alliance-building or Turf-protection

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Political Awareness: Alliance-building or Turf-protection

Researchers from the Warwick Business School in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute have just released their research report on political awareness across all sectors in the UK. They found, in interviewing 1495 managers and executives, that less than one-third saw politics are "protecting turf". Conversely, nearly 60% found politics to be about building alliances in support of organizational objectives.

The activities seen in UK organizations that are dependent on political skills are:
  • shaping key priorities within the organization
  • building partnerships with external partners
  • promoting the reputation of the organization
  • managing risk of the organization.
Notice the strong focus on external forces. In our media-rich world, with increasing competition and globalization, political skills are moving from that of promoting self-interest, to understanding other's motivations and developing appropriate outcomes.

The work suggests using these approaches in developing individual political awareness:
  • Assess your political skills using 360° feedback
  • Observe, reflect and question actions and motivations, particularly in times of crisis and mistakes
  • Seek opportunities to be involved (even if only in a minor role) in politically-sensitive situations
  • Mentally debrief after key meetings to develop stronger skills in reading people and situations
  • Gain exposure to other cultures, business sectors, functional areas, etc. to build understanding of the various perspectives and needs
An executive summary of the research is available at Leading with Political Awareness.

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