Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard women angrily discussing how much they hate corporate politics. In fact, they are so turned off that many women just pay no attention to it – even though they are aware that there are “politics” in their company.
To many women, “political” sounds like the dark side of the corporate world, and they think that to be good at corporate politicking means using others and abusing power. It represents the ultimate in putting one’s own interests first at the expense of others and breaches, for many women, a basic code of conduct. The truth is, when executed correctly, political savvy is not about backstabbing and lying but, in fact, relies on being collaborative, sharing information and doing what’s right for the organization.
Being politically savvy is really about building alliances in order to get things done. If you decide, for example, you want to effect a change in your company or drive an initiative, or maybe you just thought of “the next big idea,” what do you do? If your answer is “run into my boss’ office and tell him my big idea,” you are not being politically savvy!
Let’s look at an example of political savvy which uses collaborative techniques to achieve a business goal. Imagine…
Susan is a Vice President in the financial services industry and, as an avid reader of trade publications and magazines, she notices research showing that women control more than 60% of the wealth in the country and, in 25 years, 95% of women will manage their own finances. It strikes her that it might make sense for her bank to seriously consider marketing financial services to women. By doing so, she reasons, they would appeal to this large market in a unique way – and the bank could distinguish itself from competitors. She starts building the evidence by pulling together the facts and figures. She then uses her savvy to see how others in her organization feel about the idea. After meeting individually with each of her key colleagues to run the idea by them and get their input and support, Susan sets up an appointment with her boss. Her boss is impressed with her thoroughness and teamwork, and decides to take the idea to the next level. Susan’s plan has succeeded!
It would have been naïve of Susan to think that sharing an idea, no matter how good, without context or support and with only one individual, even her boss, would lead to success. In this example, Susan took the time to think strategically about her idea, and do her homework – and it paid off. — Breaking Into the Boys’ Club 2009
In order to get your good ideas adopted, affect organizational change, become recognized and be promoted – you’ll need to understand how to navigate your organization and become politically astute. Otherwise, you will find your great ideas going nowhere.
How does your political savvy stack up?