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Political Awareness in Our Divided, Bi-Partisan World

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Many people have turned away from the idea of being politically aware because they have seen the games of politics used to manipulate and tear others down. The truth is, however, when political awareness is used as a force for good it is an essential skill of life. Whether it is in voting our lawmakers into office or in getting things accomplished within organizations, political awareness gives us an understanding of the power webs and helps us to navigate through these power webs to get things done. Though the idea of political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world may have some negative connotations tied to it that may give us an inclination to run in the other direction, it is, perhaps, more important than ever to make efforts to consistently remain politically aware.

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Awareness Requires Understanding

With regard to electing lawmakers, here is something that’s important to understand: the point is not about determining which side you are on; what matters is that you are forming your own opinions based on awareness. Understanding the policies each candidate stands for and then determining which candidate best suits your beliefs is critical. The right to vote is something to be valued, there will always be debates about who is the better candidate. At the same time, knowing about policies and about those running for office is what helps us to make informed decisions regarding what will help to further shape our society and our future.

Beyond the political awareness that is needed in making informed decisions pertaining to lawmakers, political awareness is an aspect of emotional intelligence (EI). As a business leader, the higher you progress within a company, the more stakeholders you will be required to work with. Each stakeholder has a different set of priorities, goals, agendas, and personal dislikes/ likes. Political awareness affords you the ability to understand these different types of people and use this knowledge to successfully lead in business. By understanding more, you can work more easily with different viewpoints, have a greater influence, and essentially, satisfy more people.

All of this is needed for success in business, thus offering another important reason why political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world is so incredibly important.

Effective Leadership is at the Core of Politics

Rather than focusing on political awareness as something that is burdensome, one should look at it as an essential element of leadership that can be used well in order to get things done; in order to progress. There is not a single leader that can afford to turn a blind eye to the political dimensions that inevitably exist within their organization. Organizational politics is about the methods needed in order to get things done, who holds the power to make decisions to get those things done, and who the main people are that influence the decision makers.

Politics will always exist whenever groups of people come together, whether for electing public officials or running an organization. It is a natural fact of life that makes it extremely important to have and encourage political awareness. Developing political awareness skills may start with a simple evaluation of self to become more aware of one’s current state. Are you a good listener?

Where Do You Stand in Terms of Political Awareness?

How politically aware are you currently? How do you handle political disagreements in business, in politics, and in life? Once you have a good grasp on this, then it is time to evaluate the areas where you wish to improve and fine tune things. Remember, political awareness in our divided, bi-partisan world is more than having disagreements with people based on political party or a single issue. It is more about the big picture. It is about being as informed as we can be, on as many issues that affect us as possible, and then making informed decisions based on those issues. It is about being able to discuss differences in a diplomatic way, practicing active listening and trying to work toward the greater good for all in the long term.

The Skills You Need for Effective Leadership

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Whether you are an office manager, a project leader, or the CEO, all effective leaders require a number of skills to help positively and successfully interact with staff and other team members. Here are a few of the skills you need for effective leadership:

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The Power of Communication

Communication easily ranks at the top with regard to the skills you need for effective leadership. As a leader, you have to be able to clearly and concisely explain things to your employees. Topics that require communication by a leader may range from a description of goals to details involved in a specific task. Effective leaders have to master all forms of communication, including but not limited to full staff discussions, one-on-one, and communication via telephone, social media, and email. A large part of communication revolves around listening, so leaders should establish a clear and easy flow of communication with their team and staff through regular conversations and an open door policy. Other necessary skills that fall under communication include: clarity, articulation, business storytelling, expression, presentation, reading body language, and reducing ambiguity.

Another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate. Effective leaders must be able to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for the company. There are many ways to accomplish this. Among them are: building employee self esteem through recognition and rewards and giving more responsibility to those who show extra initiative, thereby increasing their investment in the company. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related directly to motivation are asking for input, mentoring, team building, thanking staff, and understanding employee differences and concerns.

The Importance of Effective Leadership

Leaders who attempt to take on too many tasks themselves will face challenges in getting things done. Some leaders fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when it is actually a sign of a strong leader. Therefore, another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is in identifying the skills of each of your staff members and assigning duties to each of the staff members based on their skill set. By delegating, you are able to focus on other important tasks.

Positivity can go a long way in running a business. Being able to laugh at yourself when something goes wrong helps to create a healthy and happy work environment, even during stressful and busy periods of time. Simple acts like asking staff members about holiday plans can help to boost morale in the workplace. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related to infusing positivity in the workplace are developing rapport, humor, helping others, friendliness, respect, empathy, and diplomacy.

Character Traits of Leadership

Trustworthiness is yet another one of the skills you need for effective leadership. Employees should be able to feel comfortable going to their leader with questions or concerns. It is important for a leader to demonstrate integrity as employees will only trust leaders that they can respect. Being open and honest will encourage the same kind of honesty in your staff. The ability to apologize, along with having credibility, accountability, business ethics, consistent behavior towards employees, emotional intelligence, empathy, reliability, and thoughtfulness all support the building of trust with your staff.

A few more of the skills you need for effective leadership include:

  • Creativity: the ability to think outside of the box, analyze, embrace different perspectives, observe, be open minded, and innovate.
  • Give feedback: offer positive reinforcement, mentoring, coaching, and a clear layout of expectations.
  • Responsibility: A leader is responsible for failures and successes and should be willing to accept responsibility when something goes wrong and also evaluate best solutions, learn from mistakes, and reflect.
  • Commitment: this includes follow through, determination, passion, and work ethic.

Last but certainly not least, flexibility is one of the skills you need for effective leadership that is most important as mishaps and last minute changes happen often. Adaptability is critical in being an effective leader.