[CCL] 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.”
For some, political skill may be a natural, or intuitive, trait. For others, it feels uncomfortable and takes great effort. In either case, political skill must be practiced and honed in order to reap its benefits. Listen to these eight strategies to improve your political skill from the Center for Creative Leadership researchers Bill Gentry and Jean Leslie, along with Florida State professor Gerald Ferris, co-author of Political Skill at Work:
Skill #1: Seek feedback. Self-awareness is the first step to being politically savvy. By understanding your personality and getting a good picture of your behavior, you’ll be able to see how you respond in various circumstances, Leslie explains. Routine feedback and evaluation sessions with bosses, peers, subordinates, customers and others will also help you gauge how well you are developing politically.
Skill #2: Learn your environment. Each organization has its own political climate. Political skill is played out in your specific context. Get to know the formal and informal systems and limits of the organization. Then begin to figure out when and how to work within that environment.
Is your boss a bully who needs to feel important and boosts his ego by withholding important information from you? Or maybe you work with someone who is so fearful of argument or criticism that problems go unsolved because she won’t discuss them. And then there’s that guy down the hall who’s constantly annoying everybody with his dumb practical jokes and loud banter. As the recession sends stress levels into the stratosphere, does your colleagues’ weird behavior seem to be getting worse?