Political Awareness: Reading a Group’s Emotional Currents and Power Relationships

In politically charged times, many people shy away from discussing anything associated with the word politics.  However, when it comes to the EQ (Emotional Quotient) characteristic of Political Awareness, you don’t need to be worried or wary.  Why?  Because this singular skill can make all the difference when it comes to your performance, promotions, productivity, and profitability.

Political Awareness happens to be one of twenty-five characteristics that comprise everyone’s EQ, and it is a skill set that’s part of your Social Competence.  In LEADon® terminology, Political Awareness is your ability to “read” a group’s emotional currents and power relationships.  In other words, no matter what situation you find yourself in, an exceptional ability in the area of Political Awareness will allow you to quickly measure people’s emotional ebbs and flows and simultaneously determine who the key movers and shakers are in any type of group.

By the way, this EQ characteristic isn’t about having some kind of superhero capabilities.  You won’t need Spider-Man’s “spider sense” to assess a situation, although the LEADon® team did discover an interesting description that explained how Political Awareness “is simply an understanding of…‘power webs’ and an ability to navigate them, and therefore get things done” (https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/political-awareness.html).  As you’ve probably already deduced, “power webs” are everywhere in life, and you can certainly improve how you navigate in and around them by developing your level of  Political Awareness.

Before we discuss specific ways you can begin to work on this EQ characteristic, let’s look again at those four areas of your professional life that are affected by Political Awareness:

  • Performance:  your ability to work with others and accomplish goals will be enhanced when you can clearly assess emotional undercurrents and identify key decision-makers.
  • Promotions: opportunities for vertical career moves are often given to individuals who can read and relate to others (clients, colleagues, subordinates, etc.)
  • Productivity: efficiency and output are optimized by those who recognize “power webs” and get buy-in from others.
  • Profitability:  it’s often said that politics is about power, and in the business world, financial achievement correlates to success, influence, and long-term impact.

So, how can you assess your ability when it comes to Political Awareness?  Here are three simple steps to begin this process:

  1.  Ask a group of individuals with whom you regularly interact to give feedback on how easily (or not) you read and understand their emotions.  This group could be from your Corporate Family®, your personal family, or one you’re involved with in your community.
  2. Talk to a qualified mentor or trusted colleague about your ability to identify power players and navigate “power webs” in order to get things done.  Ask for specific examples of when you’ve exceled—and when you haven’t.
  3. Take the Developing Emotional Competency Questionnaire® (DECQ®).  Upon completion, this thirty-minute online assessment will provide you with a report of your strengths and weaknesses in all twenty-five EQ characteristics, including Political Awareness.  You will also receive recommendations for online courses at LEADon University® which directly relate to EQ areas where you need development.  For example, LEADership Essentials® and LEADing through Resistance and Status Quo® are two online courses that will help you improve your level of Political Awareness (see www.LEADonUniversity.com for more details on these and other online leadership courses).

Developing your ability to read emotional currents and power relationships doesn’t require you to become superhuman, but you do need to be intentional about understanding your EQ strengths and weaknesses since they directly impact your performance, promotions, productivity, and profitability. If LEADon® can help you and your team in this leadership development journey, please contact us at 858.592.0700 or www.LEADonUniversity.com.