Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get a free pass? Their mistakes are minimized and their achievements maximized? Doors open for them and they enjoy the spotlight without a tremendous amount of fanfare. They may or may not be as competent and talented as you are, but everything they do seems to work in their favor. These people are politically astute. They have learned how to work the system in a subtle way. They have gained favor with those in power and this is not by accident. This is a skill. The fact that they have achieved this status without being viewed as manipulative and self-promoting only confirms their skill.
Politically savvy people develop a sense of intuition that helps them to circumvent potential landmines. They observe the environment and take note of what is rewarded and what is disregarded. They observe how people succeed and what is important to the people in power. This observation is critical to developing political skill.
How well are you tuned into how decisions are made in your organization? These decisions are often not as straightforward as you might think, and the people with power and influence are not necessarily those we see in the upper rankings of the traditional organizational chart.
How strong are your relationships with key stakeholders and influencers? Politically savvy people have not only identified the power brokers, but have developed relationships to increase their visibility and influence.
How do you become politically savvy?
You need to observe, listen, and ask questions.
Who is getting promoted and why?
With whom do they have relationships?
How are people rewarded in your organization?
What did they do to get noticed?
What types of behavior are not rewarded?
Who can be your champion?
Who seems to be in “favor” and why?
Who are the people who have access to the senior leadership team?
I know that you may be more comfortable focusing on the work than the politics, but in order to succeed in the competitive work environment, you need to develop your political savvy. Pay close attention to the workplace dynamics. You can learn a lot about the best way to navigate the workplace by observing, listening, and asking questions. This information is critical for your career success.