Business leaders rejecting ‘turf wars’ in favour of partnership and alliance building

UK business leaders are increasingly rejecting ‘turf wars’ and the pursuit of petty personal advantage in favour of partnership and alliance building, research has found.

A report from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) claims to provide the first picture of ‘political skill’ levels across the UK.

Sir David Varney, executive chairman of HM Revenue & Customs, chaired the 14-strong research steering committee. Speaking at the launch of the Leading with Political Awareness report, he said: “I have seen organisations get into serious difficulties for not recognising public attitudes. This report has practical recommendations, and it’s important that managers look at how they develop these skills.”

The report found that only 31% of the 1,495 respondents viewed politics as ‘protecting their turf’. Even fewer believed it was about ‘pursuing personal advantage’ (21%). More common was the belief that good political skills were about ‘alliance building’ (59%), followed by ‘interaction with government’ (40%) and ‘reconciling differences’ (39%). But UK business leaders said there was significant room for improvement. Only 58% claimed they were ‘good’, and nearly one in five admitted to being ‘average’.

Professor Jean Hartley of Warwick Business School, which co-produced the report, said: “Political skills are not the dark art that so many associate with them. Rather, they are fast becoming a mainstream element of leadership needed across all sectors.”

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