Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Improving Organizational Awareness

Volume: November 2011

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Whether you work in a large organization or small, the odds are good that you experience some level of office politics. Many people, even leaders, choose to ignore the political currents of work. Frankly, I am not a big fan of them myself. Bureaucracy, however, is a part of organizational life, thus needs to be understood. In fact, possessing a level of organizational awareness is part of emotional intelligence. More about that in later newsletters.


So let’s shift gears and review five items to keep in mind while negotiating the web of organizational life.

  1. Understand the organizational agenda. In other words, seek to have clarity on the  medium and long-term goals of the organization. If you are not clear – ask questions of leadership to ensure you know where the big bus is heading. If you are the leader, make certain your team is clear on where you are driving the organization.


  1. Balance needs. You have business goals that you want to accomplish – this is a good thing. Do not let your personal agenda, however, trump the organizational agenda. When your business goals are in conflict with the organizations goals, trouble will appear on the horizon.


  1. Fight the right battles. If you fight every battle that comes your way, you may have some level of satisfaction, but your internal colleagues will perceive you as combative. As such, reserve your confrontational energy for the battles that are most important to you and your team.


  1. Develop collaborative relationships. To the best of your ability, build workable relationships with your peers, direct reports, and superiors. The artful use of working agreements will greatly assist you with this endeavor. Remember: as your organization grows larger it becomes imperative that you build healthy collaborative relationships with as many people as possible.


  1. Agile communication. The leaders who are agile tend to anticipate what the future will bring. In this regard, seek to be anticipatory with your communication. If you are driving an initiative, make certain to keep key influencers apprised of your actions before they learn about them in a meeting or a report. Ask for the opinion of others and build a feeling of team involvement.    


In sum, think strategically about your organization. Understand its politics and objectives. In the process, grow your relationship base and focus on mutually-beneficial needs.



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