Is the maneuvering of office politics just another great way we can use Emotional Intelligence?
While the economy has pushed organizations to eliminate various positions and competition for the remaining positions soars, the need to “play the game,” increases. The forming of alliances, taking credit, manipulating negative outcomes to ones favor, playing nice with the competition, tolerating favoritism or schmoozing to a complainer can be interesting, entertaining, exciting or frightening – depending on ones perceptions but more so one’s talents.
Savvy leaders take a realistic approach to managing workplace politics. They understand that they – and their colleagues – need to navigate competing interests, scarce resources, ambiguity in authority, unclear rules and lack of information.
Politically astute leaders do four key things, with diligence and thoughtfulness:
Build strategic networks. Effective networking isn’t about how many people you are connected to. It’s the quality and diversity of your network that counts.
For the politically savvy, networking is about connecting with the right people sot hey can help one understand the formal and informal structures and provide good intelligence, insight and support when needed.
Read the situation. Politically savvy managers tend to be perceptive observers. Social astuteness – the ability to read and anticipate situations – allows you to prepare, adapt and tailor your behavior based on the people and conditions around you.
One way to boost one’s powers of observation is to pay attention to the nonverbal behaviors of the people around us. Getting a sense for how people are feeling in addition to what they are saying. For example, on calls and in virtual meetings observing by listening allows us to pay attention, hold judgment, reflect, clarify, summarize and share and understand where others are coming from.
Determine the Appropriate Behavior Before Acting. This is essentially impulse control. One doesn’t need to always say what is on their mind or jump right in with a solution. If we are composed (especially when things don’t go our way), people are more likely to be at ease around us, engaging us in difficult conversations, supporting our views and building political influence.
This is one of the greatest contributions of emotional intelligence; self-regulation. Insights from neuroscience are confirming that we can develop and improve this ability through practice.
Leave a Good Impression. Office politics can veer into manipulation. The antidote to this is to build trust. Politically astute managers find that by being honest and sincere in their relationships and requests, they inspire others to trust and have confidence in them. In contrast, a lack of integrity will weaken relationships, bring one’s credibility into question and undermine one’s influence.
Learning to manage office politics is really another use for emotional intelligence. A parcel of leadership development; it’s about building and strengthening relationships, knowing ourselves well, having a good sense about what’s going on around us and acting in an authentic way. And as a result, we’ll have what it takes to get the resources, access and information we need to lead effectively.