• Despite all the negative connotations, office politics are not inherently evil. They are about two things: influence and relationships, and the power these two things give you — or don’t. (View Highlight)
  • This myth is premised on an incomplete and one-sided understanding of what office politics really are. Though office politics can be used both ethically and unethically, at their core they are just the range of informal, unofficial, and sometimes behind-the-scenes efforts that happen in all organizations as people position themselves, their interests, their teams, and their priorities to get things done. (View Highlight)
  • For example, let’s say you have a big meeting coming up where stakeholders at your company are going to decide which projects to invest in — including yours. If you’re savvy at politics, you know that to get your project approved, you first need to understand the priorities and perspectives of those stakeholders. You need to engage with them beforehand and learn what they are looking for so that you can more persuasively present your idea. (View Highlight)
  • By painting all political activities with the same brush, we are oblivious to the potential for constructive politics — that is, the range of perfectly ethical and appropriate activities that serve to strengthen relationships of support, expand influence, and build a powerful base that allows you and your team to be more effective. (View Highlight)
  • Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal’s research hits the nail on the head when it states, “the question is not whether organizations will have politics but rather what kind of politics they will have.” As human beings, we are social creatures and the use of relationships, informal influence, and power plays is part of how we engage — for better or for worse. (View Highlight)
  • How many times have you heard someone say, or perhaps even found yourself saying, “I don’t do politics. My work should speak for itself.” Carla Harris, vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, has a saying I like better: “You can’t let your work speak for you; work doesn’t speak.” (View Highlight)
  • Since it is people that speak, we need to speak about our work, and we need other people to speak about it too. However, “speaking about our work” doesn’t mean reciting a laundry list of things that we are doing. Instead, it’s about framing what we are doing in terms of the impact it’s having on the organization and why it matters. (View Highlight)
  • In workshops and lectures, participants and I often have lengthy discussions about whether “self-promotion” is necessary, or even desirable. Many of us have a deeply held view that talent and hard work should be all that one needs to succeed. I think what lies at the heart of this belief is that so many of us treat work like school. When we are at school, it is generally a given that if we work hard and master the subject material, we will get good marks and proceed to the next level. In the workplace though, thinking like this is a risk and a mistake because the reality at work is that invisible contributions have no value. (View Highlight)
  • While research shows that office politics diminish in online environments, there’s no evidence that they disappear entirely. This isn’t surprising — most human beings are much more driven by the informal and political than they are by the formal and prescribed. Again, this can either be negative or positive, but it is a key part of human behavior, no matter what kind of environment we are operating in. (View Highlight)
  • People who think they “don’t play politics” are often very surprised to hear that when they are “taking something offline,” “socializing” their idea with decision makers in advance of a more formal meeting, or “just having a chat” with someone they think can help them to be more effective, they are in fact engaging in political activities. This is true whether you are doing these things in person or remotely. (View Highlight)
  • With all the demands on your time and energy, it may feel like getting your unread emails down to double figures is the biggest achievement you’ve made all week. Now, you may be wondering: Am I telling you that, in addition, you need to find the time and energy to invest in relationships, get strategic about your supporters and sponsors, look for ways to increase the influence and power you have, and then use all of those things to advance your career? (View Highlight)
  • Start to be aware of your language and how it is framing your reality, specifically how it frames the way you understand the work environment and how you choose to show up in it. (View Highlight)
  • Rather than spending your time and energy bemoaning or resenting the nature of organizations (which are inherently political), focus your time and energy on understanding what kind of political environment you are in. (View Highlight)
  • Kathleen Kelley Reardon, an expert on organizational politics, classifies political players into one of four types:
    1. The purist: Do you dislike all thought of politics, and simply want to get on with the job at hand?
    2. The street fighter: Do you believe the best way to get ahead is through the use of rough tactics, even at the expense of others?
    3. The Team Player: Do you believe in getting ahead by working well with others and participate in the politics that advance group goals?
    4. The Maneuverer: Do you believe in getting ahead by playing the games of politics in a way that is skillful and unobtrusive to those who only take things at face value? (View Highlight)
  • Focusing only on your performance currency, or the credibility you build through your work, is very unlikely to get you the success you’re aiming for — be it a bonus, promotion, or recognition from senior executives. However, investing time in your networks and building the connections that can speak for you and your work will get you those things. This investment in strategic relationships is not a distraction from your “real” job, but in fact, one of the most important aspects of it. (View Highlight)
  • While it’s clearly important to build relationships deliberately with people who can be your allies, don’t make the mistake of neglecting to build relationships with people who have the potential to be your adversaries. Every additional adversary that you have lessens your political capital and your effectiveness. (View Highlight)
  • The workbook and videos on my website offer some very useful pointers and self-assessment exercises that allow you to see yourself from a different viewpoint and gather insights that will help you come up with a political strategy. As with any strategy, the key is to revisit and update your political strategy regularly as the context changes. You will inevitably fail sometimes, but other times you will succeed. Getting up and trying again is what matters. Winston Churchill said it well, “In war you can only be killed once. In politics you can be killed many times.” (View Highlight)
  • Social media offers myriad opportunities to reach out to new connections outside of your organization. The value that this can offer your career is immense. A network that is as diverse and wide as possible has repeatedly been shown to be much more useful than a narrow, homogenous one. (View Highlight)
  • Remember that doing politics on your own terms, with a clear-eyed view of how to be effective without selling your soul or sacrificing your values, will not only benefit you but so too those colleagues and stakeholders who are counting on you to do the best job you can. All of us play some form of politics and getting better at the version that we want to play is critical to our career success and our personal wellbeing. Because it really is true — if you don’t do politics, politics will do you. (View Highlight)