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Emerging Leaders: Why you can’t ignore office politics
by Jo Miller, guest columnist
Aug. 17, 2014 1:00 am, Updated: Aug. 18, 2014 3:33 pm
Office politics. Cliques. Hierarchies. Alignments. Can't live with ‘em, can't do business without 'em.
But what if you really, really don't like dealing with office politics?
Would it help to know that you're not alone? Office politics can be difficult and painful.
Researchers Marian Ruderman and Patricia Ohlott recently discovered that many female managers believe that engaging in political behavior is difficult and painful. Some even viewed it as 'evil.” My experience has been that most women find it hard to see how navigating office politics can be anything other than a negative experience. It also can be a hard task to master.
According to a pre-workshop survey of 100 aspiring women leaders in technology who attended my workshop in 2013, only two percent 'strongly agreed” that they knew how to navigate office politics in a positive, effective way.
But that's all about to change:
Politically savvy people do better in their careers
So we've established that if you don't exactly jump out of bed every morning, excited to go to work and play the game of office politics, you aren't alone. But at the same time, you can't afford to ignore it.
Research by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that those who are politically savvy have better career prospects, better career trajectories and are seen as more promotable.
They also are less likely to succumb to career-limiting derailment.
An author and expert in careers, Erin Burt notes, 'Avoiding (office) politics altogether can be deadly for your career. Every workplace has an intricate system of power, and you can - and should - work it ethically to your best advantage.”
Office politics are here to stay, but the good news is that there's a simple way to master it.
You can learn to be positively politically savvy
So what can be done to make office politics more palatable and easier to navigate? The answer: Build the skill of being positively politically savvy.
The authors of 'Political Skill at Work,” the result of over two decades of research into organizational politics, claim that political skill is not necessarily manipulative. '…
Properly applied,” they write, 'it makes good things happen, both for those who use it and for the organizations in which they work.”
They identified four competencies of the positively savvy:
1. Social astuteness
2. Interpersonal influence
3. Networking ability
In other words, build your influencing and networking skills, and do it with sincerity - and positivity - to succeed. While you're doing that, pay attention to the social dynamics that surround you at work, and you'll build positive skills for navigating office politics and, as a bonus, become more promotable.
And that's not evil at all, is it?
'Jo Miller is CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching Inc. Twitter handle: @womensleadershp