Political intelligence is about understanding how power and politics really work in an organisation. It’s about knowing who the key decision makers are and understanding how to influence them.
The majority of our male colleagues are experts at it. While it is widely accepted that we women tend to be more emotionally intelligent than men, we could take a lesson or two from them on acting more politically.
How many times have you made a suggestion at a meeting that goes unheard or pitched an idea that doesn’t make it through? A week later the same idea is suggested by another colleague and somehow it gets over the line. Have they somehow honed their political intelligence? What can we do to hone our political intelligence and increase our power and influence at work?
Here are my 6 key strategies:
Decide what you want from your career:
What are your short and long term goals?
Do a power analysis of your company:
Figure out who the real decision makers are. It may be the person who is in charge of the biggest budget or it might be the HR manager. Observe the behaviours of leaders and other, perhaps less obvious, influencers.
Become a strategic communicator:
Understand how the people you want to influence receive information. What influences their decision making? What matters to them and what most concerns them? Tailor your communication style for the people you want to influence.
Note what motivates the colleagues you work most closely with:
That will help you get their support when you need it.
Listen to your colleagues when they ask for your support. If you believe in their idea, help them get it over the line. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.
Become famous for something:
Acting on your political intelligence is not about being Machiavellian or standing on people’s heads to get what you want no matter what. It’s about being more strategic; how to get what you want from work and, for women, how we can shape our organisations to reflect the kind of workplaces that we can be proud of.
One of the best ways to get noticed at work is to be the go-to person for a skill that few others have, but your organisation needs. This allows you to meet with colleagues you might not otherwise have crossed paths with. It also makes you somewhat indispensable.
Natasha will be giving a talk on Political Intelligence at Work at the Professional Women’s Network Dublin on 14th September. You can book tickets for this event here.