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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.
When you communicate your achievements to your connections, they might open up opportunities for you, your team, and your boss.
Always keep your organization's goals in mind, and don't "badmouth" others.
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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.
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Make a list of all of the awkward, uncomfortable realities that haven't been discussed out in the open.
Set aside time to consciously think through, what's actually bothering you right now and write down these elephants to enable you to resolve these issues.
Be honest with yourself: Are you contributing to the situation negatively or doing anything to help?
Write down the ways in which you've contributed, and identify how you can personally take responsibility.