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How Politically Skilled Are You?

I recently graphic recorded a leadership training course.  I’ve been contemplating one of the modules on Political Skill, and thought it was worth sharing a few insights.

There are many skills required to effectively lead teams.  Most are obvious:  Good communication, knowing how to manage conflict, having a clear vision, to name a few.

A more subtle skill that is rarely talked about but equally important is Political Skill. Most of us don’t want to think of ourselves as “political”, especially in the workplace.  But Political Skill helps us to read people and situations so we can influence others, which is nothing to shy away from.

Family upbringing, education and life experience all influence our Political Skill level, and so does our early environment. For instance, people who moved often as children tend to be very good at reading people.  They had to figure out how to make friends quickly and adapt to new situations and environments.  On the other hand, those who grew up in rural areas without a lot of playmates didn’t have the opportunity to practice and hone that skill. These people aren’t generally very politically skilled early in their careers, but most improve over time.

So, how politically skilled are you?

Here are a few things to ask yourself:

  1. Are you a good listener?  This means listening to truly understand what the other person is saying, not listening to formulate your own response.
  2. Have you taken the time to get to know your managers, peers, and those you lead? Do you use the language of appreciation they prefer?
  3.  Do you spend time building your network?  Strong and lasting relationships are key to career success.
  4. Do you practice integrity?  Simply put integrity is always doing what you say you’re going to do.

And, remember that a good leader is AUTHENTIC.  People don’t follow someone they don’t trust.