Today’s guest contributor is Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead (Wiley, March 2015). You can learn more by visiting her site or by picking up a copy on Amazon.
Political savvy involves developing relationships and a sensitivity to the culture of the organization.
This can be accomplished over time with the use of keen observation and listening skills.
Using Lisa Mainiero’s work as a guide, I have identified four stages for development of political savvy.
4 growth stages in playing office politics wisely and well
Stage 1: Naiveté
In Stage 1, you are completely focused on your work. In fact, you spend most of your time in your cubicle or office. You most likely work long hours and are not tuned into or even aware of the politics around you. You can be in Stage 1 at the very beginning of your career or when you transition to a new role or company and need to learn the rules of the game all over again.
Then something occurs that catches you off guard and opens your eyes to the culture and decision-making process. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion or see others less qualified than you being promoted. At this point, you begin to move toward Stage 2.
Stage 2: Great Work
In this stage, you see the importance of developing your personal brand and creating visibility and credibility across the organization. You still work very hard, but now you see that relationships are also important for your advancement.
However, you are not actively building relationships for your career or prioritizing this. You are aware of the politics but do not yet engage. You recognize that if you want to get ahead, you need to focus on your career, not just your work. You have yet to figure out how to fit this into your work schedule.
Stage 3: Career Strategy
The next stage, Stage 3, is about becoming strategic. You are looking at where you want to go and creating a strategic plan to get there. Your plan includes building relationships with key stakeholders and influencers.
You are aware that if you want to succeed, you need to delegate to and empower your team and develop your own personal influence and self-promotion skills. You recognize the importance of working with a coach or finding a mentor and sponsor.
Stage 4: Political Savvy
In Stage 4, you have reached a leadership position by leveraging your talent and hard work along with the relationships you have built across the organization.
Now at the top of your organization, you see politics as a way of maintaining your status, promoting your ideas, and helping others to move up the ladder. It’s more competitive on top and you spend much of your time and energy working the politics. Women in this stage are great role models for other women in the company and should actively mentor other men and women to achieve their goals.
Where are you in terms of your political savvy?
What stage best represents where you are right now?
What do you need to do to move to the next stage of political savvy?
Image source: Dreamstime | A longer version of this post appeared 2/3/15 at forbes.com.