Fatal flaw for geeks

Geek 5, Org savvy

Based on the Organizational Savvy Continuum, most geeks are “power of ideas” people who often lack political skills. So what does that mean? Is that a bad thing?

At Geeks Gone Pro, I assume that you are working in an organization like a corporation and that you want to succeed and grow your career. With that in mind, let’s explore the risk factors of the “power of ideas” style. If you are at the far left end of the continuum, you are considered “Under Political (UP)”. As Brandon and Seldman explain, being UP makes you vulnerable to more political people every time there is a competition over power, credit for results, blame, promotions and resources.

UP folks are often naive in organizational interactions. They are often underestimated, because they focus on doing the work in stead of focusing on getting credit for it (remember my personal failure example?). Seeing relationship building as “schmoozing”, they veer away from it and often end up with an insufficient network. This can also result in blind spots about their own image. They don’t worry about promoting themselves and sometimes forget that others are always watching and forming an opinion. They are often seen as lacking executive presence.

With a focus on facts over relationships, UP people tend to lack verbal discipline. They feel they should be free to speak the truth without considering reaction and the impact of the words. This can hurt egos and get others upset, which usually means that the truth gets lost in the emotional reaction. UP people are also described as tending toward “false comfort, easily deceived.” This means that UP tend to ignore the seamier side of org politics, therefore they are more likely to fall prey to it. They could also sacrifice themselves for “the greater good” in a way that comes back to bite them.

UP people can also fall in to the trap of becoming “holier-than-thou” – meaning that they become judgmental and refuse to see alternative perspectives or comprimise. Finally, UP folks can miss important opportunities. They try to follow the rules and follow the stated process without realizing that many deals happen outside of that structure.

If you recognize yourself in some (or all) of these risk area, don’t despair, there are solutions to these risks. We’ll discuss those solutions in an upcoming post.

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