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“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.” -- Erin Burt
Those that are politically savvy have better career prospects, better career trajectories, and are seen to be more promotable.
Aim to become something of a “corporate anthropologist,” observing the relationships between co-workers and superiors and paying attention to informal social networks.
By observing the communication and relationships that surround you at work, you might discover that instead of hiding when the team gets competitive, you would do better to hang in there, go toe-to-toe with them, and ultimately earn their respect.
Look for people who are not necessarily in high-level roles, but who have the ability to make things happen. Who are the movers and shakers in your organization, and what can you learn from how they get things done?
For example, you might discover that before voicing an opposing opinion in a global teleconference, it pays to have influential backers present.
After you have identified those influencers, draw up a strategic networking plan to build stronger relationships with them.
Consider your most important career and leadership goals. Does your network consist of influencers, connectors, and advocates who can help?
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Office politics are a reality, and avoiding them altogether risks not having a say in what happens.
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Map the political power and influence in your organization, rather than people's rank or job title.
Ask yourself questions like, "Who are the real influencers?," "Who has authority but tends not to exercise it?," "Who is respected?," "Who champions or mentors others?," and "Who is the brains behind the business?"
Examine people's interactions and relationships to understand the informal or social networks.
Watch closely (but discreetly and respectfully) to find out who gets along with who, and who finds it more difficult to interact with others.
Notice whether connections are based on friendship, respect, romance, or something else.
Figure out your “why.” Consider these questions.
No matter what you want to learn or accomplish, there’s someone in the world that has already achieved what you want.
You have access nowadays to endless resources in the form of biographies, books, videos, online classes and so on. You just have to search.