Emotional Intelligence & Political Savvy
By Esmond Alleyne, MBA, PA
Nonetheless, emotional intelligence is quite important in helping us predict important life outcomes and helping people find the right work and relationships.
Emotional intelligence has to include three skills:
Awareness: the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others.
Control: the ability to control your emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving.
Management: the ability to manage your emotions, including regulating your own emotions and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
Ways to Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence
Don't interrupt or change the subject. If feelings are uncomfortable, you may want to avoid them by interrupting or distracting; you should not. These feelings allow you to step out from the comfort zone and disrupt what you believe should be. Allow yourself time to understand how you feel.
Don't judge or edit your feelings too quickly. Try not to dismiss your feelings before you have a chance to think them through. Healthy emotions should be allowed to rise and fade naturally.
Listen to your body. Headaches and a nervous stomach may be a clue that your job or other environmental indicators may be a source of stress. Alternatively, a good or welcoming feeling you may have toward an associate may be a clue that this person is OK. Listen to your body and your intuition.
If you don't know how you're feeling, ask someone else. People seldom realize that others are able to sense how they are feeling. Ask someone who knows you and whom you trust how you are coming across. You may find the answer surprising and illuminating—maybe even validating.
Know when enough is enough. There comes a time to stop looking inward. Learn when it is time to look and focus outward. Emotional intelligence involves not only the ability to look within, but also to be present in the world around you.
Finally, men generally do not see the need for emotional intelligence because they often see it as a weakness. A corporate manager’s role is not “all male” anymore. In a diverse corporate world rich with diverse views, diverse personnel and diverse attitudes, emotional intelligence and political savvy knowledge are more critical for success.
Historically, political savvy was the domain of men. Women and minorities were the outsiders and did not understand the behaviors to succeed. Women and minorities believed that hard work and subject matter mastery was all that was needed to be successful. Naturally, men had no incentive to share, not because they were inherently bad, but because, I believe, they wanted to limit the quantity and quality of competition.
We should not lose an important perspective in the difference between how we have been socialized. I am confident that today’s young adults will see things much more differently, be more socialized and experience a whole different open corporate environment.
Corporate Politics Corporate politics is controversial, difficult to understand (each business environment is different), requires patience, and is a hotly debated topic. Many women and minority managers in large organizations deny the fact that they must even acknowledge political savvy exists, much less engage in political behavior in order to get ahead. This is wrong and should be challenged.
Despite good progress, women and minorities will still find themselves in situations where opportunities for promotion, access to caring mentors, access to exploratory opportunities, building career steps and encouragement are absent. This makes it difficult and more critical for women and minorities to embrace and develop political savvy. Working to identify, develop, and nurture relationships is important.
Accordingly, coupling political savvy and emotional intelligence would allow a good sense about what is going on around you. This will not happen unless you take the time, find the right people, and take the risk to build quality long-term relationships. Emotional intelligence and political savvy enrich your subject material mastery.
Women and minorities must challenge (disrupt) the status quo. A typical political savvy resistance quote would sound like: “I have my MBA, I have 10 years of experience, I dress well and I am an expert in the subject matter…so what else do they want.” They question the ethics of behaving in ways that may feel inauthentic, manipulative and ultimately self-serving. Some will eventually embrace politics as a necessary evil, while others will refuse to play the game entirely, despite the negative impact on their careers.
Can I accelerate the maturity of emotional intelligence and political savvy skills? Acceleration is always possible, but I would recommend slow and steady. The nature of emotional intelligence and political savvy are based on behaviors that need to be practiced over and over. Acceleration would imply learning faster and absorbing faster, or shortcutting an important human development. I recommend increasing exposure and awareness of emotional intelligence and political savvy through repetitions, allowing you to grow at a steady rate with measurable behavioral results.
Esmond Alleyne, MBA, CPA Lecturer Washburn University, School of Business Formerly Vice President Global Information Technology for Euro Africa Shared Services Organization Colgate Palmolive Company
Reference: Psychology Today Magazine, Developing Management Skills by David Whetten and Kim Cameron sensory inputs
Photo by Megan Rogers Photographie