Whether or not we want to admit it there are politics in every office. This has become such a negative term in the US, at least, that most people want to avoid the topic. However, politics is a part of the process of working together. We’ve come to regard it as an ugly game that is played.
When you look up the definition of politics you find that one is “competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)” per Webster’s dictionary. It’s true that politics is often a competition between individuals for power and leadership. Does that make it a bad thing? Not really. It’s a fact of life and work.
So how do you become adept at office politics? First succeeding in office politics means avoiding the following things:
- Stealing credit
- Playing the blame game
- Sucking up to those in power
- Demeaning others
These things are all negative actions and are quite hostile to those you work with on a daily basis. When you engage in these activities you are showing others that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead and that others don’t matter to you nearly as much as your career means.
It is possible to do well in office politics without selling your soul. To do so focus on these things:
- Act with integrity
- Support the organizations goals
- Treat others well
- Build relationships throughout the organization
- Bring solutions not just problems
- Take responsibility and follow-through on commitments
- Be willing to do new things that challenge you to grow
These are all behaviors that demonstrate your leadership abilities and they will help others see you as a leader. How you define your career success is up to you. If you want to move up in your organization you will need to show others that you have the ability to do what is needed to support the organization. This means playing the office politics game, however it can be a clean and rewarding game.
To become a successful office politician means that you are capable of interacting with people outside your direct group to get things done. This is really about building relationships and collaborating with others in a way that people will respect. Focus on building relationships and building trust and you will succeed without succumbing to the ugly side of office politics.
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