We all know that a keen comprehension of organizational politics is absolutely essential for leadership to maneuver the company towards its’ goals. Leaders use political leverage to promote their organizational interests, as well as personal interests occasionally. As an Extreme Global Leader you know that in order to realize a game-changing future, you will need more than just a great gameplan – you must master the political chessboard. A critical component to organizational success is sponsorship and stakeholder engagement. If a leader engages support from above, laterally, and below, s/he is likely to succeed. This equates to political influence – and to influence others requires building relationships of trust and persuading others to follow. That is what politics is about.
Leaders need to quickly identify those likely to support them and build strong coalitions aligning individual needs with organizational goals, in such a way that fulfillment of collective goals results in automatic fulfillment of individual needs at the same time. Leaders must realize that organizational politics is a function of culture, as well as an indication of trust levels in the organization, and will always serve both individual and organizational agendas.
In order to master the political chessboard, Extreme Global Leaders need to take a strategic approach to politics and should employ the following, as appropriate:
- Spend time with opponents: Most of us spend time with our allies, who we trust and who agree with us… when the people we have the most to learn from are our opponents.
- Never take anything personally: If it is not personal it is far easier to maintain focus on what we are trying to achieve. It is our choice whether or not we will personalize things that happen.
- Constantly reframe: It is natural to assume that it is “all about us” – the alternative is to recognize that much of politics is about people working to get things done within a diverse community of interests.
- Leverage the power dynamic: Recognize that power can come in several forms: legitimate, referent, reward, expert, and coercive power. Much of politics is based on power – who’s got it and how you can use it to your advantage.
- Build on mutually beneficial interlocking relationships: The better you are at networking, the better you will be at organizational politics.
- Focus on interests, not positions: In the interest of finding common ground, care about people’s interests and ask more questions. Why is this person interested in …? What is s/he trying to achieve? How can you help? How do interests align?
Leaders need to inspire people to act by creating clarity and unity of purpose and build synergies through organizational values. We can leverage political skills to manipulate others… or to influence them to achieve more than they ever thought possible – which one will accomplish more and move the organization forward faster?
Have you mastered the political chessboard?
You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next Thursday for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.