Many people shy away from the idea of political acumen in business because the term politics is associated with mean tricks. They shouldn’t. Political acumen is ethical.
Our approach to politics in business is to treat it as a reality. And you need to understand what’s happening in your environment so that you can protect and help yourself and the people you work with. We believe you can do that in an ethical way.
When it comes to office politics, you don’t have to play, but you still need to know the rules to stay off the field.
Political acumen is about influence, communication and understanding organisational norms, and that can make some people uncomfortable. But it’s about more than than that as well. It can be about simple things like managing meetings effectively, setting expectations for behaviours and feedback from your staff, or even getting job descriptions right. It all depends on your circumstances and objectives.
But in all circumstances it is no solution to pretend that office politics doesn’t affect your career or your team’s success.
It is important to be clear: just as you can use a fountain pen to write words that create anger, so you can use it to inspire people with poetry. Similarly, you can use the principles and techniques of managing political acumen to manipulate, or to inspire the people around you.
The basis of our philosophy is that people are good. We do our best to work with people who want to inspire, who want to improve and work well with the tools that we provide.
If we believe that members of your team are abusing the tools we provide, then we will keep you informed. In our experience, you probably already know who those people might be, and are already wondering if they fit in your culture.
These questions are basic to all thinking about communications, influence and organisational success. Great managers embrace those questions and the responsibility that answering them brings.