Political Savviness as a Leadership Trait

Politics to me were the equivalent of a four letter word and all bad. But I've come to realize they are just the way things get done and only become the bad variety (e.g., games and backstabbing) when the culture is bad. 

Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, takes it a step further and shows how becoming politically savvy is necessary to get ahead and stay ahead.

As Bonnie explains and experienced herself, women can be "blindsided" by being passed over and/or not hired if they're unaware of the unwritten rules (aka politics) of the place. 

Although Bonnie has a whole toolkit of how to become more politically savvy, it really boils down to two parts:
  1. being aware of your unique value proposition and able to promote it;
  2. being aware of how decisions are made, by whom, and what they care about so you can frame your value in mutually beneficial terms.
Part of the second step is strategically networking and getting a sponsor, but the start is paying attention to the flow of influence around you. Observe who gets his way and how he does so. Whom does everyone turn to for input? What are the people who are getting ahead doing differently? 

And if you know what you have to offer and who influences what, you can figure out how you can help them so that they can help you.

As Bonnie points out, being politically savvy is a necessary leadership trait: how else can you advocate for your team and ensure they get the resources to succeed if you don't have the political influence and relationships in place?

Bonnie wrote this book specifically for women since as I can attest to, most of us just cringe at the mention of politics, but the advise is equally applicable to men.

Are you politically savvy? If not, can you think of someone who is, so you can start observing and learning from them?

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