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TTM associates Article

David Bancroft
David Bancroft, BA(Hons), MIPD, Dip TM. David’s background is in international banking. He has been an executive coach, trainer and speaker for the last 17 years.

Organizational politics and the impact on individuals and organisational performance


If you really want an organization to achieve success in today’s complex environment, you cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the political dimension of your business or service

Sir David Varney – former Director of Shell


In today’s increasingly complex work environment, studies¹ have called political intelligence™ ‘the missing leadership competency’ because the ‘historical’ skills of leadership are no longer sufficient to guarantee personal and organizational success. Research conducted by The Academy for political intelligence and several other leading academic institutions, clearly indicates that successful 21st century companies need people to develop what has been described as the ‘missing competency’ of political intelligence™. This means not only an awareness of the political landscape, but more specifically, the skills to manouevre through political minefields using best practice behaviours, strategies and techniques that are aimed at delivering personal and organizational goals.

This research² also indicates that the ‘negative’ aspects of organizational politics adversely affects morale, productivity and profitability and a recent survey suggests that it is a major cause of stress in the workplace. In organizations this is a massive hidden cost and adversely affects productivity. A large percentage of private sector managers cite political behaviour as one of the main factors causing conflict within their organizations. This figure is even higher in the public sector. The most common factors reported to cause conflict were different agendas, personality clashes, competition for resources, and disagreements at senior levels creating a lack of direction and clarity. Organizational politics is one of the main challenges facing leaders with almost half of top level leaders stating that they feel unable to address it effectively within their organization and around a quarter saying it is the toughest challenge to overcome. The nature of the political environment has also changed in the last 10 years with the introduction of generations X and Y who have very different leadership needs, who operate in different structures and whose loyalty is generally to themselves, their career and their chosen area of expertise.

Politics And Workplace Performance

Changes in the way that organizations are structured mean that office politics have grown from being a peripheral issue ten years ago to the single biggest cause of stress and dissatisfaction in the workplace today. Due to the decline in command and control-style leadership has meant that managers have had to become far more adept at influencing, negotiating and navigating organizational networks using political behaviour to get things done. At the same time, the demise of the traditional career ladder now means that the only way to get ahead is to spend far more time influencing and networking than would have been the case a decade ago. 4 out of 5 managers, when asked about workplace politics respond in the negative.

The Answer

So how do we turn the bulk of the population from a negative perspective of organizational politics?

One of the answers to these challenges is to do what the WALL STREET JOURNAL³ recommended in an article entitled ‘Don’t Dismiss Office Politics Teach It’. They advocate the training of managers in the concept of ‘positive politics’ – an approach we have been using for the last 12 years – political intelligence™ is the brand.

We have devised a structure to help people understand that politics can be a positive and that it can be good for all stakeholders if used in the right way and the 6 stage approach provides clarity on the beliefs, behaviours, knowledge and skill that people need to achieve this outcome. A proprietary diagnostic is used to identify the political animals that exist in organizations and takes people through a series of exercises that builds into a portfolio of pragmatic activities that can implemented back into the workplace to make themselves and their organisations more productive.

HR practitioners have highlighted the importance of POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE across various organizational levels.
They have consistently identified the vital importance of the POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Leadership Key to the success of their organizations.
Business stakeholders that seek to leverage added value and to build an Innovative Behavioural – Based Leadership way across their organizations should consider POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE as a core competency.


  • ¹ Roffey Park : Politics in Organizations / Management Agenda 2004 through 2011
  • ² Warwick Business School : The Power of Constructive Politics November 2007
  • ³ Author Jeffrey Pfeffer : 24th October 2011