‘You do not need to be the ‘smart’ politically aware, game playing person but you need to be the wise, politically aware person who works with integrity.’ This was our last statement in the last article. This means that we have different types of people when it comes to playing office politics;
- The politically unaware, game playing people (Inept) – These are the insecure, unprincipled people. They play games with no strategy. They are the passive aggressive people who play games for the sake of it.
- Politically unaware, ethical people (Innocent) – These are the loyal, principled people. They trust the rules, expertise and authority. They may appear to be naïve due to their inability or willingness to navigate politics.
- Politically aware, game playing people (Smart) – These are the drivers of politics in the organization. They are the manipulative, hustling power seeking people. They may drive both healthy politics and toxic politics.
- Politically aware, ethical people (Wise) – They understand the role of both competence and politics in growth and performance. They are purposeful, tactful, loyal and good at negotiating.
On recognition that every organization has some level of politics, we are striving to belong to the fourth category. Office politics revolve around the people you interact with, how you interact with them and the battles you choose to pick.
Good politics is about gaining power, influence and resources without tarnishing your name and by staying true to your values. To do this you need to develop relationships and networks at different levels;
- Operational network – whether you are a team leader or not, you need people who help you to get the job done. Someone who can assist you with that project, hold for you when you are away or one that you can delegate to.
- Developmental network – These are the people who help you to grow and develop. They know your strengths; they know your potential and can direct you to the right direction.
- Strategic network – These are the people who help you to scan the environment. They know where the organization or the industry is going. You can leverage on their knowledge to position yourself for growth.
You could have some people fit in the different categories. The important thing is to realize that apart from being competent you need to position yourself. You need to network or create a relationship with the right people. The people you know/who know you determine what you do and what you do determines what and who you get to know. To navigate the politics with integrity;
- Understand the formal and informal networks – The titles have decision making power but there is a level of influence that has no formal title.
- Build positive work relationships – you do not need to be a people pleaser, but you need to be easy to get along with. Be sociable but professional.
- Develop your soft skills – politics are more about the soft skills than the hard skills. Become a full package by developing your emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
- Build a personal brand – Speak up for yourself and make yourself visible. Own your achievements and take your credit where its due.
In weak companies’ politics win, in strong companies’ best ideas do and if people like you they will listen to you but if they trust you, they will do business with you.
Photo by RODNAE Productions: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-black-blazer-shaking-hands-with-man-in-brown-blazer-7413993/