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Political Intelligence: Why it Matters for Hiring Leaders in the Social Care Sector.


2 June 2023 at 5:25 pm
Zena Clark
You know how there’s IQ and EQ, which stand for intelligence and emotional intelligence? Well, there’s also something called political intelligence – or PQ. BE Recruitment's Zena Clark writes on why PQ is a crucial skill for leaders in social care settings – particularly in large organisations.


Zena Clark | 2 June 2023 at 5:25 pm


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Political Intelligence: Why it Matters for Hiring Leaders in the Social Care Sector.
2 June 2023 at 5:25 pm

You know how there’s IQ and EQ, which stand for intelligence and emotional intelligence? Well, there’s also something called political intelligence – or PQ.

It’s all about being able to read the room, so to speak. It’s about understanding the needs and wants of the people around you and figuring out how to work together to achieve your goals.

PQ is a crucial skill for leaders in social care settings – particularly in large organisations.

Read on to find out why.

Internal Politics and PQ in the Social Care Sector

Internal politics can have a significant impact on the success or failure of leaders in the social care sector.

Without strong PQ, leaders may struggle to navigate the complex dynamics between the many stakeholders in social care settings – not just your staff and clients, but clients’ families, NDIS coordinators and more.

PQ enables leaders to identify and manage the various political forces at play: to be able to anticipate and respond to resistance from staff or other stakeholders, and build coalitions and alliances to achieve the organisation’s goals.

As Focus: The Company Culture & Strategy Blog says, “PQ is about understanding which skills you have to use when you need large scale change, when you need to apply pressure, when to navigate difficult colleagues and combative behaviours of fellow managers and executives”.

Building Strong Relationships through Political Intelligence

Political intelligence can also help leaders in the social care sector to build strong relationships with colleagues and managers.

By understanding the political landscape within the organisation and building strong networks, leaders can better advocate for their department, and the clients they serve. This can be particularly important when it comes to issues such as budget and resource allocation.

For example, a manager in a large community service organisation may need to balance the needs and wants of different departments, stakeholders and clients. Having a good understanding of the political dynamics within the organisation can help leaders to effectively communicate and collaborate with colleagues and managers, leading to a more cohesive and effective team.

External Politics and PQ in the Social Care Sector

Maintaining internal harmony and productivity is just one side of the coin for leaders in social care organisations.

The social care sector in Australia is heavily influenced by government policies and funding decisions, so it’s important for leaders to be able to build strong relationships with government officials, stakeholders, and other key players in the industry.

By understanding the external political landscape and building strong networks, leaders can better advocate for their organisation and the clients they serve.

The Bottom Line

Managing internal workplace politics, meeting external regulatory requirements and upholding the utmost standard of care and support for vulnerable clients is an art – and the most successful leaders in these roles are highly politically intelligent.

Political savvy, or PQ, is a crucial ingredient in leaders that can mean the difference between keeping things under control, and utilising all these forces to make decisions that lead their organisation to thrive.

Be’s Tips for Assessing PQ in Candidates for Leadership Roles

  1. Ask about their experience navigating and understanding the political landscape of their past organisations.
  2. Ask about specific examples of challenges they have faced and how they navigated them, particularly in regard to building relationships with key stakeholders.
  3. Ask about their communication and collaboration skills and how they have been used to manage competing interests within an organisation.
  4. Ask about their approach to decision-making and how they consider the political factors that may impact the organisation.
  5. Assess their ability to think strategically and anticipate potential changes in government policies and funding decisions.
  6. Ask about their leadership style and how they have fostered a positive culture within their team while managing workplace politics.
  7. Ask about their experience leading change and managing difficult colleagues.
  8. Look for evidence of building strong networks within the field of social care and industry connections.
  9. Ask about their understanding of the political and economic factors that influence the social care sector.
  10. Observe their ability to remain calm under pressure and adapt to unexpected situations.

This article was originally published on BE Recruitment’s website.


Zena Clark  |  @ProBonoNews

Zena's outstanding career is built on her proactive approach, deep industry knowledge and passion for making a positive impact on her clients’ business success. She has experience in senior leadership roles in traditional recruitment, executive search and RPO organisations across the UK, Australia and New Zealand. As a certified Scrum Master Zena has a talent for analysis & process improvement bringing impactful and relevant solutions to her clients. Zena has both depth and breadth of experience across a number of sectors including managing in-house and on-site teams for global businesses. This gives her a unique insight into best-in-class recruitment strategies and methodologies for a range of environments and sectors.


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