Political Competence – ‘The Right Way’: A Necessity for Corporate Leadership Success Professor Ricchiuto, J., (August 13, 2011) lecture during residency on Executive Communication on topic Political Savvy in Organization was an eye opener for me. One of the most powerful but often overlooked skills that a Leader needs is Political Competence. Whether to sustain in an Organization or to successfully get things done, a good leader must understand what others have in their minds, whom to approach and how to influence and build consensus from others. The know-how of what-to-say, what-not-to-say and how to execute also matters. It is a skill that requires high social awareness, capacity to connect and convince people. The Art of Transforming People’s Perspectives
Bacharach, S. B., (2008) states that most people do not understand that political competence is an essential skill for leadership. It is not enough for a good leader to come up with good ideas but he/she should also know how to convert those ideas into actions in their work place. To be a successful leader one should have the political knowledge of an Organization’s overall vision, ability to understand others perspective on a matter, gauge supporters and convince grumblers for their buy-in before moving forward to execute a plan. He added that becoming a successful leader requires continuous process of follow up, persuasion, monitoring and obtaining consensus of all the involved stakeholders’ until the thorough completion of plan (Bacharach, 2008). The Modern View of Political Savvy
Joan Lloyd asks, “If I were to call you ‘politically savvy,’ would you feel complimented or insulted? For some people, being called "political" is akin to being called "manipulative."” She shares her own view about people who rise quickly in the Organization ladder. "It's what you know, whom you know and who knows you." (Joan Lloyd, 2001). Leaders who are functionally strong and highly productive, but, do not know how to build and map connections, communicate the right thing at the right time, show their existence and know to materialize on the leads can be eventually overtaken in this competitive corporate world. This makes political competence an essential skill for corporate survival and success. Political Game in an Ethical Way
Politics can be categorized into good or bad depending on the way the Players use it in an Organization. Based on the approach, political activity can lead to damaging and negative or constructive and positive results. Bad political behavior has even ruined careers of some unfortunate colleagues. Jeffrey Pinto (2000), characterizes political behaviors as Naïve – people who believe it is morally disreputable and prefer to avoid any political activity. On the other hand, there are personalities who are highly ambitious and apply politics in an improper way, focusing merely towards their convenience and benefits. This category of players are destructive, self-centered and worry only about their career advancement, even if that means by harming others if they get in their way. Jeffrey Pinto references the above vicious type of political characters by the term ‘Sharks’ developed by Lynch and Kordis (1988). Both Naïve and Shark characters are equally misguided and ineffective. Practicing the middle ground of political sensibility is the most effective and appropriate political tactic. Sensible people understand that politics are inevitable when initiating any changes in organization. They know change makes employees nervous and insecure. Politically Sensible leaders are aware of these concerns and offer mutually agreeable solutions by making alliances, networking, negotiating and compromising where need be. Organizational Politics is most effective when applied for negotiation and bargaining. A good leader should strive to develop and employ in Ethical Politics that will have a positive impact to self and the Organization as a whole. (Pinto, J. K., 2000) How to...
References: Bacharach, Samuel B. (October 23, 2008). “Political Competence: Political Leadership Skills for Execution”. In The Bacharach Blog. Retrieved August 30, 2011, from http://sambacharach.com/bacharachblog/leader/political-competence-political-leadership-skills-for-execution/
De Janasz, S. C., & Dowd, K. O., Schneider, B. Z. (2002). “Interpersonal Skills in Organizations.” New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved September 2, 2011, from http://www.tafpi.com/static/files/lwpa_executive_summary.pdf
Lloyd, Joan. (July 22, 2001). “Building political savvy, in a good way.” In The Business Journal Service Greater Milwaukee. Retrieved August 30, 2011, from http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2001/07/23/smallb2.html
Lynch D, Kordis PL. (1988). Strategy of the dolphin: scoring a win in a chaotic world. New York: Morrow.
MindTools Ltd. (1996-2011). “Communications Skills, Thinking on your Feet, Staying Cool Under Pressure.” Retrieved September 3, 2011, from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/ThinkingonYourFeet.htm
Pinto, Jeffrey K. (2000). “Understanding the role of politics in successful project management.” International Journal of Project Management, 18(2), 85. Retrieved September 1, 2011, from http://journals.ohiolink.edu/ejc/pdf.cgi/Pinto_Jeffrey_K.pdf?issn=02637863&issue=v18i0002&article=85_utropispm
Ricchiuto, Jack (August 13, 2011). “Executive Communication: Leadership Skills” (Lecture Notes) Executive Masters in Business Administration. Graduate School of Management. Kent State University. Hilton Garden Inn, Twinsburg.
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