"How do we stimulate innovation throughout the businesss?"--CEO
A growing number of businesses are realizing
that without constant innovation the ability to survive and
thrive in a competitive global economy is not likely. "In
the past innovation was relegated to the Research and Development
division off on some campus like setting away from business
operations. It is now clear that innovation needs to come
from everyone. Innovation is needed not only in products and
services but also in every way that the company operates."
Successful innovation requires a supportive
culture, smart risk taking, knowing how to deal with ambiguity
in continously restructuring organizations, and personal leadership
initiative in navigating ideas through the system. It is unfortunate
that despite initiatives to encourage creativity and risk
taking at every level, most innovative ideas never see the
light of day and are killed prematurely.
Our research at Political Savvy provides strong
evidence that a major reason for the lack of continuous innovation
is the inattention to the role that organizational politics
plays in the innovation process in almost every business - new ideas that if successful can create
a new order of things.
As Machiavelli noted, "...It should
be considered that there is nothing more difficult to handle,
more doubtful of success, or more dangerous to carry through
than to initiate a new order of things. For the innovator
makes enemies of all those who prosper by the old order while
only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would
prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm partly from
fear of their adversaries, who have existing laws on their
side, and partly because men are generally incredulous, never
really trusting new things unless they have tested them by
experience. In consequence, whenever those who oppose the
change can do so, they attack vigorously..."
Few works on innovation even mention internal
politics and most works on politics seldom get past the micro
interpersonal side to address the process of innovation within
Political Savvy is often the missing ingredient essential to making constant innovation an organizational reality.
The Gateway Experience allows executives and people at all levels to discover for themselves the intimate relationship between continuous innovation and political savvy.
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"How do I get my team to stop bickering
among themselves and actually start woking together
as a team? Our corporate survival depends upon it?" --CEO
At senior levels of management at least two
extra dynamics come into play. First, while unable to say
so, several members want the CEO's job. This creates an underlying
tension that cannot be expressed where there may be greater
incentives to undermine each other than to work together.
Some people would rather be CEO of a less effective organization
than a Senior Vice President of a higly effective organization.
A second and separate dynamic is sometimes
called "The Land of the Bosses" syndrome. Before
being promoted to Corporate Headquarters to head a major function
or division, these executives have often been 'the boss' at
units outside of corporate for years without another 'boss'
in daily sight. Once promoted to Corporate Headquarters the
person who has gotten used to being treated as the boss when
they arrive at the office each day is suddenly crammed into
an area where everone around them has also been 'the boss'
for much of their career.
Entering the "Land of the Bosses"
is a new experience for them, one they are often not prepared
for. A common scenario is that they first act like the boss
they have been for some time, but then their fellow bosses
won't let them. So they can't go sideways. They certainly
can't boss the CEO, though some foolishly try. So they can't
Then they revert back to their more normal
habits of 'bossing' those below them in the field. For some
reason, many of them seem to forget that when they were bosses
in the field they spent a good deal of their time protecting
their unit from all the junk that came down from corporate.
So they find they can't quite boss downwards either. All this
can become very frustrating, but of course their egos could
never allow them to admit it. They can become stuck and quite
frustrated. Unless something like political savvy behavior
develops, this frustration can act out in ways dysfunctional
to everyone around them especially the corporation. After all,
this group at the top often represents the most seasoned of
the companies best and brightest.
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"How do we stop the 'turf wars' and get
people to collaborate across the division or department silos?"
Businesses are designed to be collaborative
within an organization, in order to compete without. Yet,
far too often internal competition is the norm.
The normal process starts off simply and rationally.
The business's overall goal is subjected to the rational division
of labor and broken down into smaller goals such as marketing
goals, financial goals, manufacturing goals, etc.
These goals are then rationally backed by
rewards of which there are not enough to fully go around.
A scarce resource and scare reward environment is generally
the result. This leads to irrational competition and silos
between the very functions or units that are supposed to be
collaborating with each other.
As a consequence, much of the organization's
energy goes into internal friction, blame, and self protectiveness
rather than towards serving the customer and shareholder.
The Political Savvy Advantage shows how to
turn 'silo' defenders into silo linkers thus creating a Win-Win
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"Tara is top management material, but
the others will eat her alive if she doesn't get coaching
to deal with the internal politics."--
It is still surprising to many that one can
attain very high levels in the organization and still be relatively
'clueless' about the politics going on all around them.
Sometimes such people have excellent technical
and leadership track records that political naivété was not
a deterrent in reaching their current level. However, more
and more studies are identifying lack of political savvy as
a key derailment factor for people who otherwise are technically
and business savvy.
The higher one goes in the corporation the
more likely understanding the inner political workings will
be critical to their longer term success. That is why in these
cases receiving mentoring or coaching in political savvy can make or break individuals as they rise
to the highest levels.
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"How do we build a strong ethical base
for our culture?"-- Corporate Executive
As competition and change builds at a faster pace,
the temptation to cut corners will only increase. Recent headlines indicate on the surface what
is likely going on undetected in other corporations. Yet it is the ethical nature of a business and the trust it builds with key stakeholders that will play a major role in its long term success. One of the breakthrough findings of the studies
was the emergence of the phrase:
"Ethics is Power"
For most people operating ethically is a 'shouldism',
a type of obligation. What clearly emerged from our
results was that those identified as politically savvy were
seen to operate ethically - resulting in much higher influence
throughout the organization than others. [see the ethics
is power section of the website]. The political savvy
advantage provides a clear grounding for establishing an ethical
basis for a culture. Each person has their own personal best.
Ethical based cultures bring out the personal best in most
people. The result is an increased impact of satisfaction
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"Some of our best technical talent isn't
making it to leadership levels. How do we keep them on track?"
-- VP Talent Mgmt.
Many organizations have high potential programs.
Those with superior technical skills are put on the fast track
to upper management. Even if they manage others well, their
units do not seem to be making the impact desired.
Often, great technical people are not able
to create the informal networks essential to get their units'
work the attention it deserves. Too many fall off the fast
track for their inability to learn the informal rules of the
road neccessary to be maximally effective.
Those who learn to use the Political Savvy
Advantage avoid this premature stalling of their careers and
continue on to make greater and greater contributions.
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"Even if politics doesn't officially exist,
we still need ways to prepare our leaders for how to best
deal with it. How do we intelligently make it a part of our
Corporate University Leadership Programs?"--Chief
Because of the ingrained negative stereotypes
associated with politics, it is often a very delicate issue
to address directly in officially sanctioned leadership programs.
Our research findings are the
result of seeking the intersection of leadership and organizational
One of the most promising findings is that
Political Savvy (sometimes referred to as Organizational Savvy)
is the hidden side of leadership. Leaders with Political Savvy
were seen as the most effective of all leadership types.
Political Savvy stands for the
ethical use of informal influence. Thus Political
Savvy leaders were effective in both the formal and informal
organization. They were able to influence and lead upward
and outward in the business as well as the more traditional
downward influence based upon their position power.
The Political Savvy Advantage provides Chief Learning Officers
with acceptable ways to bring organizational politics out
of the backroom and help leaders address the issue head on
so that they can integrate it into their overall leadership
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and Shark repellent.
"Increased competition, change, and scarcer
rewards seemed to have created more overly ambitious, self
serving individuals in our organization. They hurt others,
are dysfunctional, and are bad for business. Is there any
way to control them?" -- HR Specialist
These individuals represent the 'sharks' or
Darth Vaders of the organization who have been seduced by
the 'dark side'. They have always existed and often use Machiavelli's
book, The Prince, as their guide. They are slick
and difficult to stop completely.
There are however, some things that organizations
can do. There are ways to spot them early, limit their damage,
and give others a type of 'shark' repellent.
The Political Savvy Advantage works with organizations
to set up such processes in the organization. To do so is
One of the clear findings from our work and
ongoing research is that if people believe it is the sharks
who get promoted, then much of the other programs set up to
generate greater commitment don't work.
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"School did not prepare our people for dealing
with the political realities of organizational life. Is there
any kind of early training program we can add so that they
don't get blindsided?"- Corporate Trainer
It is a sad fact that less than 5% of any
type of undergraduate graduate, or even MBA programs, do anything
to address organizational politics directly.
It shows how deeply the fear of abuse of power
runs in our culture. As a result, people graduate naively
believing they are prepared to succeed in the world of work.
Our findings clearly indicate that negative
stereotypes can be overturned. Then 'positive politics', which
actually reinforces the rationality of corporate decision
making, can be understood and taken to heart by the vast majority
of new employees.
The Politcal Savvy Advantage is particularly
useful at getting new employees started off on the proper
and ethical track for corporate and
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Women and Minorities
"In a white male dominated business it is particularly
hard for women and minorities to catch on to the politics
of the place. Is there any thing we can do to provide a more
level playing field?'-- EEO Officer
There is much evidence to support that any group that is not part of the dominate culture has a tougher road when it comes to effectively dealing with organizational politics.
One of the somewhat contrary findings from our work is that women actually tend to have more natural political savvy skills than most of the men.
While men tend to compete and one up each other, women tend to collaborate and seek connection. These are key attributes of those identified by their colleagues, male or female, of being politically savvy.
The other, more unfortunate, finding is that while possessing more natural political savvy ability, women tend not to use it and instead tend to act more like the men.
The Political Savvy Advantage is particularly valuable in helping women get back in touch with their political savvy abilities to better leverage the talent they bring to business.
Minorities can also gain by better understanding the basic human
nature dynamics at play that cross racial lines to create a more level playing field.
Read an Article
from a Certified Political Savvy Trainer on Women and Politics
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Gain the proven benefits from the Savvy
Advantage™ using various forms of Political
Savvy research, books and
Mastering organizational politics through Political Savvy is a
proven ethical leadership approach
that any organization and any individual can use to both influence
positive change in an organization and achieve career success at
the same time, even when negative organizational politics are severe.