We’ve all met people in our professional lives who have a knack for politics within the workplace. We tend to associate certain characteristics with politically-savvy individuals. In some cases, we think of them as being clever, adept at manipulation and deception, and ruthless in their pursuit of success and power. On the other hand, we sometimes view these people as being influential, resourceful and great with people.
Whether you think of terms like politically-savvy or politically gifted as being complementary, or indicative of someone you need to be wary of, will depend largely on your previous experience with this type of person. In reality, good leaders can utilize these skills to create positive outcomes for their teams. If deployed properly, these skills will enable them to meet the challenges their organization sets them.
Politically gifted leaders can enhance their other workplace skills by combining them with their political abilities. In doing so, they can often get the most out of their team while improving their own productivity. Here are some of the characteristics that are most associated with politically-gifted business leaders, what those skills mean and how they can help.
It is commonly said that politicians are hopelessly out of touch with ordinary people, but in fact politicians need to be socially astute. Being socially astute means that the individual is adept at picking up on both verbal and non-verbal clues that we all give off when we interact with one another.
All of these clues collectively give an indication of what a person is thinking and feeling. This is especially important in situations where what a person thinks and feels is different to what they are expressing. The socially astute make very good human lie detectors, able to pick up on the cues that indicate someone is conflicted or being dishonest.
There are numerous reasons why this is a desirable skill for a business leader to have. For one thing, it’s much easier to motivate a team when you are able to understand and react to their thoughts and feelings. Additionally, socially astute people are better at socializing. Maintaining the right balance between authority figure and friend is one of the most difficult aspects of being a good leader; being socially astute makes finding this balance easier.
Those who possess good interpersonal influence are great at influencing and convincing others. Those with high levels of interpersonal influence are great at communicating and others find them to be compelling and likeable.
Being able to quickly and easily build rapport with others enables a leader to not only be effective at managing their own team, but to also be great at liaising with other businesses and raising the profile of their business. An individual with exceptional interpersonal skills can have an influence on the business they work for and will leave a mark on most of those that they meet.
Any business that needs to work closely with other businesses in order to survive will benefit from having leaders with strong interpersonal skills who they can put front and center in any meetings. Individuals with excellent interpersonal skills can make a big difference to your business’s image and reputation.
Networking is a vital aspect of entrepreneurship. Whether in terms of individuals or a business as a whole, networking brings together people and organizations who would otherwise not encounter one another. Business leaders who are good at networking and able to do it particularly effectively will find it much easier to forge links with other businesses.
Business leaders who have good networking skills will likely already have a network of individuals that they can leverage at any time. Having a large network of contacts means nothing if you are unable to leverage them when you need them. Whether they need to accomplish business or personal tasks, leaders with good networking skills will have a much easier time.
A leader who can’t be taken seriously simply cannot lead. If they are going to be taken seriously and command the respect of their underlings, a leader needs to be genuine and sincere when they are interacting with others. Good leaders speak with total sincerity at all times and are respected more for it.
When a leader is genuine and sincere, their workers will be more likely to listen to their advice and will be more responsive and receptive to feedback. Sincere leaders are trustworthy and their word is their bond. This earns them respect and enables them to speak frankly when they are giving feedback.
Leaders who are perceived as being insincere won’t be trusted or respected in the same way and they will suffer for it. It’s much more difficult to lead when the people you’re leading are not willing. A sincere leader will be able to get the best out of their team with the minimal amount of effort.
Always being conscious of the image that they are projecting is indicative of a born leader. When you are a leader, the way your team feels about you and perceives you will affect how they respond to you. A good leader is always aware of how they are perceived by others and why, as well as what they can do to influence the way that other people think about them.
Whether you’ve ever been a business leader or not, you will understand the importance of first impressions. We all know from our personal experience that first impressions are automatic and lasting. Good leaders will naturally present themselves to create the best first impression possible, and then from there will know what to say and do to influence others into forming a more positive opinion of them and their work.
How to be a Better Leader
The above characteristics are all found, to varying degrees, in any good leader. If you are a team leader that wants to work towards being more effective and better respected, the above skills are the ones that you want to hone the most, but how do you go about it?
If you want to become a better leader, you should start by identifying your current strengths and weaknesses. Use the characteristics outlined above to help guide you in terms of working out what to focus on. Once you have identified the key areas that you need to work on, it will then be much simpler working out exactly how you go about it.
One of the best ways of improving your leadership skills is to identify other leaders within your business or organization who you think you can learn from. Either shadowing these individuals or just taking note of what they do and how they do it can provide you with inspiration.
Alternatively, you might want to enroll yourself on an appropriate training course. For example, if you think that assertiveness training would be helpful, then you can consider the training options here. There is no end to the depth and variety of training courses out there, so it’s worth having a thorough look at what’s available.
Politically-gifted leaders are often some of the most valuable assets that a business has. Spotting the characteristics that set these leaders apart from the rest can enable you to identify the key talent on your team as early as possible, giving you plenty of time to nurture and develop them.