With the U.S. Presidential campaign in high gear, politics seem to dominate our news media, conversation and attention, but politics is a normal part of organizational life. Adjusting to that reality can create more space to lead and deliver better outcomes. Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger describe the leadership skill in “For Your Improvement – A Guide for Development and Coaching,” – “Organizations can be a complex maze of egos, constituencies, issues and rivalries. People play in their own sandbox and tend to defend it from attack from outsiders. There can be many traps and dead-ends; more ways to turn wrong than right.”
People who are skilled at being politically savvy are maze-bright, anticipate where the land mines are and plan their approach accordingly. They are sensitive to how organizations and people function; and can maneuver through complex political situations effectively and quietly.
Being politically savvy is not to be confused with being “political” which is a polite term for not being trusted or lacking substance. It involves getting things done with the least noise and maximum benefit.
Some tips include: Be process flexible, read non-verbal cues, give other people and groups some room to maneuver, keep conflicts concrete — the more abstract, the more unmanageable. Find a confidant or someone who models the behavior and pay attention to their actions. What can you do to better navigate the politics of organizational life?