Learning to lead with political astuteness

Yates, Sophie and Hartley, Jean (2021). Learning to lead with political astuteness. International Public Management Journal, 24(4) pp. 562–583.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10967494.2021.1894281


There is increasing recognition that leaders exercising political astuteness are more effective at work. Understanding how political astuteness skills are acquired is valuable in all sectors and is particularly important in the case of public sector managers, for whom formal and informal politics is an integral part of their context. This article addresses the theory and empirical research gap on leadership development for political skills, by reporting on a mixed methods study of mainly senior managers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with a survey of 1012 and 42 interviews. We find that the sources of political astuteness development perceived as most valuable tended to be unplanned and experiential more than formal, and the paper deploys a political skills acquisition framework to explore and explain these findings.

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