Here are some extra things to think about, and resources to download, to help you Flip Your Perspective.
Enhance your Political Savvy
1) Read the Situation
When you scan the environment and read the situation, make sure you:
- Live, breathe, and be in the moment. Pay attention to how you are portraying yourself through your nonverbal behaviors, and read the nonverbals of others.
- Go beyond the surface. To understand what is truly occurring, go deeper into reading the environment. What are the nonverbals of others around you telling you about how they feel or what they want? Politically savvy bosses are insightful observers who can adapt their behavior to reflect whatever is happening around them, the changing conditions of the environment, and attitudes of their coworkers and stakeholders.
- Take the perspective of others. Based on what you read of the situation, and knowledge of what others need and desire, think about how others must be feeling in a situation. Understand what is happening and what circumstances are bringing you together. Reflect, understand, and adjust your behavior to reflect on what you observe.
- Validate your perceptions. Once you start to dig deeper into the situation and truly understand what’s going on around you, ask others you trust about their own perceptions of the situation. Compare what you hear to your own observations to make sure you are reading the situation correctly.
2) Determine the Appropriate Behavior before Acting
We all have probably made a mistake of not thinking before speaking and acting without impulse control. But you can avoid it in the future with these tips.
- Count to ten. Take a breath (or several). Just cooling off a bit, being present, and having a clearer head can help things.
- Step back a bit. Remove yourself from the situation for just a little bit and think through what will happen if you behave a certain way. Determine if there are other alternatives or responses, and the reactions each of those options will likely evoke.
- Explore why you do what you do. Take a personality assessment. It may help you understand how and why you do what you do, act the way you act, or behave the way you usually behave, for better or worse. You can then start to get a handle on what you could be doing that prevents or undermines your effectiveness.
- Work with a coach or go to class. If your counterproductive behaviors are something that can’t easily be changed, consider working with a coach or going to a class or seminar. Those options can help you identify your hot buttons and come up with alternative responses in the heat of the moment.
- Be decisive. It takes time to observe the environment, scan what is going on, listen to what is truly being said, and become aware of what to do. But don’t take too long. Inactivity and indecisiveness are not the hallmarks of good leadership. In fact, in the study with the 763 leaders discussed earlier, we discovered that decisiveness was rated as one of the most important leadership competencies needed for their success. Strike the right balance, take in the information you have, and then use it to act appropriately, in a decisive, timely manner.
3) Leave People with a Good Impression
Here are some pointers.
- The audio must match the video. Remember from Chapter 2, your nonverbals must match your verbals; your actions and gestures must align with the words you say. Send the signals you purposefully intend to send.
- Ask for feedback. Talk with a trusted friend, colleague, advisor, coach, or mentor to observe your words and actions. Seek the feedback of that person to determine whether you come off as sincere or manipulative.
- If you say you will do something, do it. Follow through on what you promise to do. If you don’t keep your commitments, people will feel betrayed and their trust in you will erode. Along with that, keep confidences and avoid gossiping, without exception.
Help your Senior Colleagues Help Themselves
Manage up. Or, Help Your Senior Colleagues Help Themselves. For many, “managing up” leaves a bad taste in their mouths. They think managing up really is self-promotion, kissing-ass, brown-nosing, pandering, bowing down, sucking up, not leaning in, or selling out. New leaders who have not flipped their script think that way. When you flip your script, you see it differently.
First, don’t think of it as managing your boss, superiors, and the like. Think of it as helping your senior colleagues. Managing your boss sounds like you are wrangling a wild animal. Helping your senior colleagues is a little less formal and stuffy, but still shows the respect they deserve. It lessens the pressure and sounds a little less manipulating.
Second, think of helping your senior colleagues as part of your job. Take responsibility of the relationship and be proactive in helping your senior colleagues help themselves. Realize that it’s your job to seek out and influence them, not their job to find you and agree with what you want. If you have politically savvy, you will help your senior colleagues know what is going on and help them be successful. Flip your perspective to help your senior colleagues help themselves in the following ways.
Broaden your perspective by understanding their perspective. For you to even begin to help your senior colleagues help themselves, you’ll need to understand them. What are their pressure points? Their pains or anxieties? Their needs? What keeps them up at night? What are their agendas, values, goals, and mission? How do they see things? If you can answer these questions, you can better understand what you and your team can offer to make their jobs easier and bring success to them.
Make your senior colleagues be successful. Politically savvy bosses don’t do great work just for their own benefit. “It’s not about me,” remember? Instead, they flip their script and understand that their success can bring success to others. If you have power, authority, and good standing in your organization, that will rub off onto your boss and make him or her successful too. That’s a good thing.
Align the needs of your senior colleagues with what you need to succeed. Maybe you need more resources to get the work done that only your senior colleagues can provide. The political savvy boss doesn’t just march in and ask. Rather, make an influence plan as described in Chapter 2. Start with finding out what your senior colleagues need to get their work done and be successful. Because you have your own wants and needs, try to align them with those of your senior colleagues. Frame what you need in a way that helps them and the organization, not with how it will help you personally. If you are having a difficult time getting work done, and your senior colleagues could help out:
- Communicate to your senior colleagues why you and your team are unable to get work done effectively. Explain exactly how, if such inefficiencies continue, it hurts them, the department and organization.
- Provide examples of how things can improve if you get what is needed for the benefit of the group, and how such specific actions, resources, or decisions can also help your senior colleagues, department, and organization.
- Explain exactly how your senior colleagues can help the situation and can be part of the solution.
Show your senior colleagues that you have the ability to help with their needs. Bosses who don’t flip their perspective examine their own strengths to better their own standing and get success. They still live by the script which emphasizes an “It’s not you. It’s me.” attitude. As a politically savvy boss, you flip your perspective. You think about your own strengths and what you or your group can bring to determine if any of those strengths can help fill a need or overcome inadequacies, deficiencies, or limitations given the rules and realities of the workplace. If so, suggest how you or your team can help fill the gap. Or, talk with your peers about their strengths and determine how you and your peers together, can address those gaps. Give your senior colleagues what they need so they may be more apt to give you what you need.
Keep your senior colleagues in the loop. You clearly are busy. Your senior colleagues are probably just as busy, if not more. So, be proactive in telling them what is going on. You should keep your senior colleagues informed because they just don’t know all that is happening. It’s not about brown-nosing. Think of it this way – your senior colleagues are very busy people with multiple direct reports. So, if you were in their shoes, think about what they should know about you. Then, purposefully manage this perception of yourself. What you are really trying to do is keep your senior colleagues informed of what you and your group are doing and all your collective successes. Communicate how your team helps your senior colleagues, the department, function, or organization. They’ll be able to communicate that news and your successes up and across the organization. Also, let your senior colleagues know of the struggles you and your team have so that you can get advice, and possibly more help and resources.
Here are some downloadable materials and job aids for you:
- Want some reminders on how to flip your perspective by flipping the way you think about politics in the workplace?