A leader is a decision maker who is goal oriented and visionary – a person who is able to inspire his/her team to see the vision of the organization and strive to keep the team focused on meeting the mission. Organizational politics and leadership are deeply linked. Politics is the way people resolve differences through discussion, negotiation, or compromise. Organizational politics, on the other hand, is the process and behavior in human interactions involving power and authority. In order to succeed in a political environment, leaders need to acknowledge the legalities of the organizational mission and strategize and implement with political sensitivity.
Politics in the workplace shouldn’t be about negative behaviors or undesired actions. It is about understanding the environment of the organization – it is a tool to help to make better decisions. There are four major steps that can be used to strategize decisions politically. The first step is by assessing the political feasibility, which assesses the acceptability and the operational capacity. The second step is mapping the political landscape. This can be done through defining the organizational strengths, weakness, motivations, resources, values, and trade-offs. The third step is to perform political costs and benefits analysis by evaluating costs and benefits. The fourth step is to actually make the decision.
Politics is a tool to assess the operational capacity and to balance diverse views of interested parties. It is power and should be used to implement decisions with political sensitivity. The following is a list of tips for leaders on workplace politics:
1. Understand the political relationship by defining the politics in the organization first
2. Identify the benefits of politics and develop a political map
3. Implement decisions and policies with political sensitivity
4. Acquire political responsibility
5. Be professional and responsible
6. Have personal and legal responsibility
7. Use political favors to accept policy
8. Increase power over decisions
9. Use political environment to access future decision-making
10. Assess operational capacity
11. Assess value and substantive worth
12. Map the political landscape to assess the organizational strengths and weaknesses
13. Understand the resources, incentives, and exchanges.
14. Develop your arguments and prepare in advance
15. Know how to use the formal rules
16. Take advantage of information opportunities
17. Negotiate, compromise, and adapt