Nav: Home

Leadership expert says political skills important to leader satisfaction

October 05, 2016

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- Leaders skilled at influencing others may be happier at work, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

Andrew Wefald, associate professor in the Staley School of Leadership Studies, says political skill -- the ability to build connections, foster trust and influence other people -- is a fundamental quality of a transformational leader and being good at it can increase job satisfaction and engagement.

"Most people think of political skills as manipulative and negative but, basically, it is building connections with other people," Wefald said. "In a positive sense, politically skilled people foster supportive and trusting environments to benefit organizations and are going to be more transformational leaders, which will lead to higher job satisfaction."

Wefald and his collaborators -- Kansas State University alumni Kyle van Ittersum, assistant professor at Angelo State University, and Jennifer Mencl, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth -- recently published "Transformational leader attributes: interpersonal skills, engagement, and well-being" in Leadership & Organization Development Journal. The study assessed the relationship among interpersonal skills, work engagement, transformational leadership and job satisfaction using surveys from 278 employees.

The researchers tested three types of interpersonal skills: emotional control, defined as control of one's own emotions; emotional sensitivity, defined as understanding emotions of others; and political skills, defined as understanding people and being able to influence them in ways that contribute to personal, group or organizational success. Out of the three, political skill was the only skill to have an independent positive relationship with transformational leaders and their job satisfaction.

"Think of the best boss you ever had -- most likely they were very politically skilled," Wefald said. "Leading without political skills is possible but it is going to be like wearing a weighted vest."

Wefald said there are four components of political skills: networking ability, apparent sincerity, social astuteness and interpersonal influence.

"These are all things a good leader is going to be able to do," Wefald said. "Someone with those skills is going to be in a better position to help the organization because they will be better able to get things done than someone who doesn't have those skills."

The researchers dug deeper and looked at the relationship of high political skills to participants' reported work engagement and job satisfaction. Those who were highly engaged in their work had high transformational leadership skills and high political skills.

"Work engagement is the level of a person's physical, mental and emotional energy with their job and if they are fulfilled from that work," Wefald said. "Being engaged at work leads to several positives for the individual, such as more energy and stamina, and the organization, such as less employee turn over."

Wefald said organizations could use this information to develop employees' political skill or select employees with those skills.

"It is a developable skill but there are many personality traits and variables that may prevent a person from developing a high level of the skill from nothing," Wefald said. "Some people's window might be wider, some people's might be narrower -- it's just going to depend on the person they are and their personality."

According to Wefald, developing political skill to increase engagement and satisfaction, particularly among managers, will benefit any organization.

"Any time you have people who are in hierarchical groups and limited resources -- which is every organization ever -- you are going to have people vying for access and control over those resources," Wefald said. "That's politics. Someone who is able to get along with everybody, get things done and is on board with the projects being done is going to help an organization as well as his or her own career."
-end-


Kansas State University

Related Job Satisfaction Articles:

IBS patients (can't get no) satisfaction, UB study finds
A new University at Buffalo study of 483 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) revealed that many factors that contribute to patient satisfaction are beyond the doctor's control.
Engagement with natural environment a significant contributor to life satisfaction
Looking to improve your overall life satisfaction? Try regularly hiking in a forest or otherwise engaging with the natural environment.
Medscape doctor survey shows: Boost in job satisfaction, gender pay gap, race disparities
According to Medscape's Annual Physician Compensation Report, African-American physicians earn 15 percent less than their white colleagues, but are happier than white physicians in their jobs.
Maintaining an active sex life may lead to improved job satisfaction, engagement in work
Maintaining a healthy sex life at home boosts employees' job satisfaction and engagement at the office, underscoring the value of a strong work-life balance, an Oregon State University researcher has found.
New research examines patients' satisfaction with their radiologists
New research reports that most US radiologists receive favorable satisfaction scores from their patients.
More complications, less satisfaction in breast cancer patients who get radiation, implants
A new study finds that breast cancer patients who have implant reconstruction following radiation therapy had more complications from the surgery and were less satisfied with the result than women who had implants but no radiation.
New research explores patients' satisfaction with their radiologists
According to a new research study, most US radiologists receive favorable satisfaction scores from their patients.
Greater job satisfaction for transgender employees
Transgender individuals in the workplace can sometimes feel stigmatized, either through the actions and attitudes of their coworkers, or through their own fears of being treated as an 'other.' But recent research from Larry Martinez at Portland State University shows that the experiences of employees who transition genders is highly dependent on the interactions they have with their coworkers.
Perceived obesity causes lower body satisfaction for women than men
'Owning' an obese body produces significantly lower body satisfaction for females than males, scientists have found.
Leadership expert says political skills important to leader satisfaction
Political skill is a fundamental quality of a transformational leader and being good at it can increase job satisfaction and engagement, according to research published by Andrew Wefald, associate professor in the Staley School of Leadership Studies, and Kansas State University alumni Kyle van Ittersum and Jennifer Mencl.

Related Job Satisfaction Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...