We all start out naively assuming that all business leaders make decisions based wholly on fact and merit.
The first challenge is to develop your "political sensitivity"--observe and ask questions about how things are done in your business, where the power bases are, and who might have hidden agendas.
Every individual and leader has their comfort zone--behaviors, values, attitudes, fears, and drives that result in productive relationships.
Actions outside these comfort zones will likely lead to feuds, hidden decisions, excessive arguing, counter-productive lobbying, and back-biting.
Before coming and launching a fully-fledged proposal at a committee or in a memorandum, it's smart to test opinion and find out how key people will react.
This enables you to anticipate counter-arguments and update your proposal to answer objections and to accommodate political realities.
Just as you do your homework on the facts, it pays to do your homework by visiting the players in a given situation.
Effective management is the process of harmonizing individual interests with the goals of all business stakeholders.
Focus your powers of persuasion on the right people and the right issues.
Politically insensitive business people often try to steam-roll others with emotion, a barrage of facts, or a claim of high-level support.
... as often as you ask for support. If you are viewed as always demanding support, but never giving it, your effectiveness will be greatly reduced, even when you are right.
Always communicate the win-win element in every decision.
When your integrity and values are at stake, do not fold.
There are obviously occasions when a subtle or indirect appeal, rather than a direct attack will pay bigger dividends in highly-charged political situations.
When workplace drama affects you, it can become an insidious cloud that permeates your day-to-day.
Be mindful and ask yourself, "What is actually going on here?" Focus on the facts and avoid what you think happened. Know that you can't control how you feel, only how you react.
Look beyond your immediate team, and cross the formal hierarchy in all directions – co-workers, managers and executives.
Don't be afraid of politically powerful people. Get to know them, and build high-quality connections that avoid empty flattery.
If you are new to an office environment you should be listening 95% of the time. Ask a lot of questions to get a good understanding of how things work.
The thing with office politics is that you don't know what the trigger words are.