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As a leader, what sort of political animal are you?  
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If you fear being perceived as a Fox, you may decide to be a non-player, and think of yourself as a Lamb - because being innocent feels comfortable. However, Lambs have little influence, and if you choosing to have little influence is not in the best interests of the organisation, you may actually be choosing to be a dumb Ass. That's a lot less comfortable

The core political skills you need to be a wise Owl are not 'rocket science'. You simply have to:
(a) Pause to think 'slowly' (and positively) with your PFC / System 2 brain 
(b) Understand the perspectives of important people (stakeholders) 
(c) Position yourself (or your proposal) appropriately to these people 

 

You can also positively re-frame politics by simply re-naming it as 'organisational influence'. It is comfortable to say to yourself 'I don't do politics' but not 'I don't do organisational influence'. 

 

Some people also try to avoid 'networking', which is part of politics. It may help to re-frame networking as mostly about understanding others' perspectives. So most of your networking time should be spent listening and asking questions. Look at this 'window of opportunity' diagram (used in consultancy sales training) to reflect on / adjust your networking conversations. 

"Everyone is a political animal" Prof Kim James
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