Linking Human Capital With Strategic Intent

The Art of Being Politically Savvy


The Art of Being Politically Savvy

“It’s survival of the politically fittest.  No matter how good you are at your job, without the ability to negotiate office power structures, you’re toast.”(MacRae, 2001, Online)

Rick’sTIPS explores the competencies necessary for successful leadership and provides activities to assist with the development and mastery of these skills.

Someone who is Politically Savvy understands the internal and external politics that impact the work of an organization.  Possessing Politcal Savvy means that each situation is approached with a clear perception of organizational and political reality and recognizes the impact of alternative courses of action.

There is a difference between playing politics, being political and being Politically Savvy. Being Politically Savvy requires one to maneuver through complex political situations effectively and quietly.

It requires being sensitive to how people and organizations function, as well as the current role and its potential limitations and its political climate. It requires one to anticipate where the land mines are and plan their approach accordingly.  It requires one to view corporate politics as a necessary part of organizational life and work to adjust to that reality. Think of it as a chess match and you have to anticipate your best moves.

Characteristics of a “Politically Savvy” individual:

  • puts the organization first
  • believes in and cares about the issues at hand
  • sees a career as an outcome rather than a goal
  • plays above board
  • legitimizes the task
  • avoids their own political blind spots
  • knows how to navigate smoothly and quietly through political waters
  • says and does things that do not cause political problems
  • understands how to deal with not invented here and territory protection
  • rejects politics and minimizes procedural errors
  • weighs their words and considers the impact on others
  • is aware of the consequences of their actions

In attempting to influence an individual or group about a new or controversial idea use the Three Shot method of influencing;

  1. Take a shot at it.  Explain the idea and its potential benefits
    If this idea is accepted, fine. If not,
  2. Take a second shot at it.  Learn from the first attempt and customize further based upon the particular audience.
    If it is accepted, fine.  If not,
  3. Make a sincere commitment to implement whatever the organization has decided to do. Those that do not, have not learned the art of being Politically Savvy and usually self destruct.


Suggested Readings

  1. The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni
  2. The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make by Arthur Freeman.
  3. Political Savvy by Joel R. Deluca
  4. Dancing with the Dinosaur: Learning to Live in the Corporate Jungle by William Lareau

I hope you found this edition of Rick’sTIPS:  The Art of Being Politically Savvy beneficial.

I look forward to providing you with information that makes your life more productive.

Until next time…


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