Last week I was at a conference with the key focus of understanding creativity – in its many forms. I really wanted to better understand how I could steer clients toward “creativity” from a business perspective – in such a way that they will become not only the best leaders they can be, but the best individuals they can be overall. There was time built in to ponder our own potential and discover how to continuously re:create ourselves from an artistic perspective, but it was interesting to me – there was no mention of business leaders and how we, too, can leverage creativity in different ways to become exceptional.
Here are some fundamental insights and observations:
For better or worse… we are all extensions of the networks we have built – or the lack thereof. Those who are devoted to the intensive cultivation of the vine will prosper and grow, while those who do not, well, you can guess the outcome…
We all know what makes the corporate world continue to expand and grow. It’s a giant social vine, with people dependent upon one another for success. Whether we like it (or care to acknowledge it) or not – we rely upon one another… very rarely solely responsible for our own achievements without the support and help of others.
That in mind, the single greatest skill you can develop is dynamic interdependence, which equates to NETWORKING. This is the most powerful marketing tactic you can employ to accelerate and sustain your own success! Few things will help you grow faster than a creating a strong network.
In today’s demanding business environment (cost pressures, flatter organizations, more direct reports, “speed to market” as a competitive advantage, etc.) you have limited opportunity to devote time and energy to your own development. Most leaders struggle to meet all of the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences – or to implement changes that establish best practices. The one thing that is in no one’s best interest is for you, as a leader, to forsake your own learning and development – no matter what level you may be. In the current environment, Executive Coaching is one sure-fire way you can continue to develop your executive-level skills, as well as address your developmental and growth needs (which impacts the entire organization), while continuing to run your organization on a day to day basis. Continue Reading…
Politics has a nasty reputation in business… and elsewhere. Many feel politics is a necessary evil, but the best leaders understand and espouse the idea that a keen comprehension of organizational politics is an absolutely essential component to both organizational and personal success. Political influence is leveraged to promote organizational agendas, as well as personal interests. In order to become the best leader you can be, you need to be able to influence from a political perspective. A critical component to the political perspective is sponsorship and stakeholder engagement. If you engage support from above, laterally and below, you are far more 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 really about.
The truth is that just by being a member of an organization you are committing a political act – in fact, you need to influence people on a constant basis. That is how things get done. To influence, you need power – the real currency at work. In healthy organizations, power is granted by virtue of your ability to inspire and provide vision – up, down and across the organization. Your political influence is a direct result of what you can do for other people.
As a leader, you need to quickly identify those likely to support you 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. Realize, without a doubt, that organizational politics is a function of culture, as well as an indication of trust levels in the organization. It will always serve both individual and organizational agendas.
Think of political influence as simply the art of influencing others to get things done – no used car salesman tactics needed. Despite the bad rap that politics gets, successfully engaging in politics requires the development and use of positive, highly valued skills. For example, research has found that those who espouse political power are more likely to believe they have the power to influence people and outcomes, which motivates them to achieve their goals through positive politics. At best, such confidence is grounded in self-awareness, self-management, and a desire to move people for both organizational and individual benefit. The combination of emotional intelligence and socialized power, can result in influence strategies that cause people to enjoy working together toward common goals.
In order to create political influence, you 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, whom 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?
Political Influence is power. No matter who you are, where you work, or what your professional goals are, achieving influence across your organization is critical for success. Gaining influence on a team can help you work together more effectively. Gaining influence in a leadership position can make you more respected and appreciated. Gaining influence in a meeting can make your voice more likely to be heard and acknowledged. You can’t avoid politics… and you shouldn’t. If you choose to opt out, you may be putting your relationships — and your ability to influence others — at risk. Get in the game. Be authentic. Claim your right to guide and inspire others. Broaden your group of friends at work. Learn what it takes in your organization to influence individuals and groups. Do something for somebody else, every day, without thought of personal gain. Treat politics with the importance it requires, as well as with all the seriousness and ethical consideration it deserves.
People who actively steer clear of politics don’t do what the best leaders always do — build strong, positive relationships that serve a purpose beyond themselves – they create resonant relationships built as a result of understanding people and valuing what they bring to the table. These powerful relationships are grounded in empathy as well as authenticity and mutual respect. In such relationships, you will come to know what drives people and what they value – allowing you to inspire, motivate, and influence in a way that makes them feel valued and enables you to get things done. People who avoid politics miss out on all of this, as well as on receiving help, benefiting from mutual support, and even having fun. Politics is really just the art of getting along with others and putting yourself in positions where your work will be noticed. That’s not a negative thing – that is simply the smart thing to do.
You, as a leader, need to inspire people to act by creating clarity and unity of purpose, while building synergies through political influence. We can leverage politics 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?
Do you have political influence?
Networking has long been recognized as one of the most powerful tools for business people… all professionals, really. It is the lifeblood of professional success. The relationships you cultivate help you to enable sustainable, profitable business… and your own professional development. Networking is one of the most influential business tools you have at your disposal. When you know how to network effectively, you develop a powerful circle of influence – one that will translate into the growth of your business… and your career. Continue Reading…