The term “political shark” is well-known to many. We use this term in criticism because it has a negative connotation of someone who is self-serving and uses such savvy to do whatever it takes to move ahead.
But if you are a minnow and not a shark in this arena, it is time to learn how to swim better and faster. Because politically skilled people are able to maximize and leverage relationships in the world to foster connections, trust, and influence others – all things that are necessary for transformational leadership.
If you have everyone’s interest in mind – yours, theirs, and the organization’s interests – your ability to network and to influence others in order to accomplish personal and organizational goals can be transformational.
In fact, Gerald Ferris, a management and psychology professor at Florida State University, says that a political shark can be genuine, authentic, straightforward and effective, conjuring up a much different picture than most of us tend to have. Ferris says that there are four behaviors to political skill: social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, and apparent sincerity.
How do you develop this skill? How do you learn to navigate “workplace waters” to get things done in a way that is mutually beneficial?
Here are 4 tips to help you begin building your political skills.
1. Build your network.
Build it with many different groups, both inside and outside of the organization. Your networking ability is key to cultivating relationships. And relationships can develop into followership to help you reach targeted goals.
2. Listen deeply.
Be genuinely interested in your network, and listen deeply. Make the interpersonal connections to build bonds and trust. Tend and care for these connections with genuine interest.
3. Be confidently respectful of others and yourself.
Your sincerity in respecting your interests, the interests of others, and of the organization makes the difference in developing strong followership and mentoring others to do the same.
4. Connect the dots.
Social astuteness is important to political navigation. Understanding how your interests and the interests of others can be mutually beneficial as they support the organization is what creates a true win-win situation.
Of these four steps, which one do you estimate you need to work on most? Mastering all four will help you not only to become more influential to get things done, but will also allow you to develop more meaningful, fruitful relationships.
DO OTHERS REALLY TRUST YOU?
Learn the two vital parts to trust and how they can help you become a more highly effective leader.
GET THE INFOGRAPHIC
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.