Leader's Mindset Series -101 | Developing Political Intelligence (PI)

Today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) organizational environments have become more interdependent to be able to function effectively through shared leadership. Such shared leadership is grounded in contribution from various stakeholders, internally and externally.

Political Intelligence (PI) has therefore become more essential for leaders as they navigate the complexity of an organization and drive excellence - which is an expectation.

PI goes a long way when combined with your EQ and IQ.  

Common Mindset: Political Intelligence means intentionally staying out of negative behaviors in the organizations, or playing the game of corporate politics at your best.

Leader’s Mindset:
 Political Intelligence is the leadership capacity to interact strategically in complex environments where an organization, departments and teams share leadership as influence to shape a common culture grounded in their values and excellence. 

Strategies to Develop Political Intelligence 

Leaders need to build in to their organization’s DNA an understanding of shared leadership and the perspective of being a part of a wider organizational system.

1. Understand and Analyze the Organizational Structure

Step back, observe and map out the influencers in the organization regardless of the job titles. 

Ask yourself some of these questions:
  • Who are the real influencers? 
  • Who has the authority but tends not to exercise it? 
  • Who champions change in the system? 
  • Who mentors others? 
  • Who are the critical friends that mirror the intelligence behind organizational decisions? 

2. Understand the Informal Network

Examine people’s interactions and relationships to understand the informal or social networks. Observe and respectfully try to find the dynamics of these informal relationships. Look for informal groups within or outside of your department. Everyone has different drives and motivations to be in such relationships. Make an effort to analyze how influence flows between the people or groups. It will help you understand the interpersonal dynamics that are at play and how existing relationships work in the organization.

3. Build Your Own Network

Integrate a cross functional approach in to your networking. Look beyond your immediate team and make an effort to build strong relationships. Support mutually beneficial opportunities. Avoid aligning too closely with one group or the other. Base your relationships on mutual respect, integrity and creating an equitable and inclusive culture.

4. Enhance Your Own Interpersonal Skills

Developing interpersonal skills is significant to effectively leading others. Carefully practice your emotional intelligence with reflection and appropriate actions. Take a course, if needed.

5. Be Courageous – but not Naive

As you develop a stronger understanding of people’s drives and motivations, and why do people behave the way they behave, such insights will enable you to respond to situations more appropriately and courageous manner. Such insights may include ambitions, habits, insecurities, etc.

6. Foster Conditions of Equity and Positive Mental Health

It is easy to slip in to the complexities of the organizational know-how. It can have various impacts on different individuals and therefore, it is important to carefully foster conditions that promote trust, equity and well-being. Diffuse unhealthy practices in your environment such as disrespecting others based on diverse identities, spreading gossips, rumours, revealing confidential information to others, creating unnecessary conflicts and competitions, inappropriate criticism, etc.

Be confident, professional and assertive – not aggressive and/or naive. Proactively and respectfully set clear expectations with your network. 

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Sahil Sharma
Talent, Learning & Leadership Development Professional | Certified Leadership Coach

For consultation and services, contact us at www.ledxlearning.com