Why is Political Savvy Vital in the Economic Downturn?
My recent discussions with clients confirm an unavoidable truth–-in these economically uncertain times, maintaining a resilient and productive corporate environment demands a healthy political landscape. A climate of fear and scarcity can trigger destructive and resource-draining internal competition within companies at the very time we must collectively align against external competition. In 2009, Brandon Partners clients have renewed or even expanded their Organizational Savvy offerings, viewing ethical leadership, positive politics, and strategic influence as mission-critical. Others have asked for ways to validate their training choices to stakeholders, so I’m sharing these talking points for HR, learning, or training managers/directors who serve as stewards of company resources, reputation, and welfare: “Why is organizational savvy a must-learn competency in these hard times?”
Preventing Destructive Politics
It’s human nature for fearful people to jockey for position, practice deception, sabotage, or be self-serving. When Political Savvy is taught as “ethical politics,” it helps high-integrity contributors and leaders to recognize and protect the enterprise from overly political players so that ethical, competent people can reach positions of positive power. Savvy skills create cross-organizational collaboration to curb unhealthy competition, silos, and turf battles.
From Fear and Upset to Focus
The current economic downturn can be distracting or even paralyzing. Possessing Organizational Savvy reduces stress through an increased sense of control, understanding of what’s happening in the organization, and greater ability to predict behavior of work associates. Even snaky, shark-like activity is less jarring when you can anticipate it. Learn signals of inappropriate maneuvers so that you’re not thrown off-balance when they operate. This doesn’t make you a pessimist or cynic who can “light up a room just by leaving it!” It makes you prudent and realistic about human nature. As the bumper sticker quips, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you!” Seriously, we believe corporations and government agencies hunger for a healthy forum to constructively, openly, and proactively discuss and manage inevitable organizational politics, instead of sweeping these inevitable dynamics under the carpet or whining at the water cooler. This way, people can quickly re-focus their energy where it belongs–– on being productive.
Innovate to Grow
Companies atrophy without innovation, which demands a flow of new ideas and safely “speaking truth to power.” Organizational Savvy helps your enterprise’s people choose the right battles, respect ego and turf, and sell their ideas so that progress continues even during slowdowns. Growth in tough times involves optimizing your internal talent by making sure that competent people understand how the system works and how to move ideas forward so that solid ideas see the light of day.
Leadership Bench Strength
If your company is in a holding pattern, rebuilding, or cutting back, a reliable funnel of leadership talent will help you to survive, thrive, and emerge even stronger. Given external threats and severely limited resources, organizations cannot afford gaps in their leadership pipeline due to lack of strategic influence skills or career derailment. Ethical, politically savvy leadership is pivotal in today’s complex and volatile business environment.
I look forward to helping you position the bottom-line benefits and “burning platform” business needs your learning solutions and training programs address during future blog postings. Hopefully this entry helps build confidence that if you are a training, learning and development, human resources, or leadership development professional, you may be one of the “quiet heroes” helping your company to survive the storm of these turbulent times, so pat yourself on the back!
Rick Brandon is a thirty-year veteran in communication skills development. He provides corporate and public sector training, instructor certification, keynote presentations, executive coaching, and applied behavioral sciences consulting to enhance performance and organizational results.