How can you tell if a leader has political skills? The answer: if they appear not to have any such skills at all.
Gerald Ferris, a management and psychology professor at Florida State University, says that behaviors that are genuine, authentic, straightforward and effective are associated with political savvy. Leaders who are not politically skilled come off as manipulative or self-serving, he explains.
Politically skilled managers are masters of four behaviors, says Ferris: social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability and apparent sincerity. Research from the Center for Creative Leadership has identified two additional dimensions of political skill: thinking before speaking and “managing up.”
According to CCL’s Jean Leslie, co-author of a research study on workplace politics and career derailment, here are six key skills to help develop your political savvy:
Number 1: Think before you speak. Politically skilled managers have impulse control. They tend to choose their organizational battles wisely and size up situations before deciding how to present ideas to others. Managers who actually consider whether or not to voice a thought or a feeling, and who are thoughtful about the timing and presentation of what they have to say, are less likely to derail their careers, Leslie says.