According to Blass, et al., writing in Human Resources Management, the best way to acquire political skills, is through the mentoring process. The inexperienced individual who has a desire to become a leader in the HR field must have a mentor who is “armed with organizational experience” that is borne of “vicarious and firsthand experience” and is willing to share “insights and cues with proteges on what it takes to be successful in the organization” (Blass, et al., 2007, p. 6). Mentors must be able to have an “adaptive capacity” to teach the political skills necessary to lead, Blass continues.
Politically skilled individuals generally possess “greater adaptive capacity,” Blass continues, which can result in “positive and strong leader reputation” (p. 6). Moreover, Blass argues that individuals with well-honed political skills gain “influence” because they are socially astute, have learned adaptability, and adjust behaviors “to meet situational demands” (p. 11).
A third pivotal skill that a leader in HR must have is the ability to usher in change and to make adjustments in bleak economic times. “During crisis, leaders must quickly introduce profound change” in the way the organization is administered (Mohrman, et al., 2009, p. 434). In fact, Mohrman writes (p. 434), it may be easier to transition a company into change when things are in crisis then when all seems to be going well. A leader in this instance must be able to show the ability to bring people seamlessly into a changing, uncertain business climate.
A leader must find ways to “deliver more valuewhile consuming fewer resources”; and moreover, he or she must “tap into employees energy and engagementby focusing them on and involving them proactively in addressing the challenges” (Mohrman, p. 435). It goes back to what Leslie L. Kossoff said: a leader must have “clearly defined convictions” and the “courage of your convictions” before his staff will trust and follow that leader.
How does a person acquire these aforementioned skills? One sure way is to work with an experienced mentor, and learn from that mentor who becomes a role model and a teacher. In the HR environment, there are professionals who love their work, who are successful and enthusiastic about learning more themselves — and that is precisely the kind of person that makes the best mentor. While being mentored, the person who wishes to learn how to be a leader must also be willing to do the research, ask the right questions, and be open to change.
Blass, Fred R. And Ferris, Gerald R. (2007). Leader Reputation: The Role of Mentoring, Political
Skill, Contextual Learning, and Adaptation. Human Resource Management, 46(1), 5-19.
Choo, Ho Geok. (2007). Leadership and the Workforce in Singapore: Evaluations by the Singapore Human Resources Institute. Research and Practice in Human Resource
Management, 15(2), 104-114.
Kossoff, Leslie L. (2010). From Manager to Leader. About.com. Retrieved Nov. 16, 2010,
Mohrman, Susan Albers, and Worley, Christopher G. (2009). Dealing.