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Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know

Social Astuteness

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.

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Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know

Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know

https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-avoiding-office-politics-could-hurt-you-more-than-you-know

themuse.com

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Key Ideas

Avoiding office politics

“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.

Social Astuteness

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.

Interpersonal Influence

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. 

Networking Ability

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? 

Sincerity

Be mindful of not becoming someone you can’t stand to see when you look in the mirror. 

Warmth is the conduit of influence. You must connect with sincerity and build trust before you can lead. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Identify political players

We all start out naively assuming that all business leaders make decisions based wholly on fact and merit. 

The first challenge is to develop ...

Keep political players comfortable

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.

Align with decision-makers

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.

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Using Office politics to your advantage

Office politics are a reality, and avoiding them altogether risks not having a say in what happens. 

It also allows people with less experience, skill or knowledge than you to inf...

Analyze the Organization Chart

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?"

Understand the Informal Network

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.

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Charismatic Leadership Style

Max Weber defined charisma as “[a] certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at ...

History of charismatic leadership
  • In medieval times, leadership was mostly based on tradition. Most people never met their leaders and leadership was legitimized by the divine right of kings - charisma was not needed.
  • The 19th and the 20th century were full of charismatic leaders. Technological (newspaper, radio, and TV) allowed leaders to transport their charisma over long distances.
  • Our current globalized world and access to social media have led to another rise in charismatic leaders. On Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, many people support leaders solely based on their charisma.
Dangers of charismatic leadership

Most of the dangers of the charismatic movement relate to this power.

  • Charismatic leaders lose support more quickly than other types of leaders.
  • They have to clearly be the best person for the job at hand – always and in any situation. This is why they often engage in a cult of personality and become resistant to criticism.
  • Things that charismatic leaders do to maintain their power are precisely the things that diminish it when their business, country, or other undertaking encounters problems.
  • When charismatic leaders use their position to motivate their followers to do things they would not normally do, the followers often feel betrayed once they suspect that they might not get the expected payoff. 
  • They often eventually take the praise of their followers too seriously and show narcissistic traits. They consider criticism as disobedience and expect total loyalty. 

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The lesson we all got to learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Throughout history, some individuals got to play bigger roles than others. Among them, Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that the success of a cause depends directly on the involvement of the peopl...

The lesson learned from the movie 'Kim Man-bok'

According to the main character's behaviour, one should used other means of negotiation besides persuasion, which is, undoubtedly, of high importance. For instance, why not try using the very language of the counterparts, if possible. It can lead to unexpectedly good results.

The lesson learned from Buddha

Buddha's belief that anybody can changed is a powerful tool in the hands of good coaches. Having trust in people's ability to change can prove to be way more effective than believing that they can't.

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The humble narcissist

Researchers studied whether customer service employees were more productive under narcissistic or humble leaders.

The least effective bosses were narcissists. Humble bosses we...

Narcissist and humble leaders

Narcissists believe they're unique and superior, while humble leaders know they're flawed. 

The humble narcissist has grand ambitions but doesn't feel entitled to them. He is also willing to acknowledge his weaknesses and learn from his mistakes.

Narcissism and confidence

We're all drawn to someone who shows confidence - that is the reason that narcissists are more likely to be promoted or get elected to political office. But on its own, narcissism is dangerous. It tends to promote overconfidence and it dismisses the criticism.

Adding humility to narcissism prevents capriciousness and complacency. It helps you remember that you’re human.

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The skilled use of humor ...
  • gets a point across, 
  • lightens a mood,
  • is better than therapy for brightening the workplace and energizing all who may come your way.

The ...

Good and bad humor
  • Good Humor is Inclusive.
  • Good Humor Promotes Bonding.

  • Bosses and managers who use self-deprecating humor are considered more approachable and human.
  • Bad Humor Is Poison and can affect an employee’s performance or future.
  • Clumsy Humor is a Risk. Your audience might take offence instead of laugh.

Modern Sabbaticals

Traditionally, a sabbatical is a period of paid or unpaid leave that is granted to an employee so that they may study or travel.

A modern sabbatical is no longer defined as the absence of wor...

Write a novel

You will have a lot of time on your hands to consider the creative ideas in your mind.

Write it down and self publish. Share your knowledge and your narrative with the world.

Start a side hustle

Do you have a skill that you would like to improve?

You could use your sabbatical to start a client base for consulting work and build your portfolio while making a profit.

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Coworkers That Cause Drama

When you're second-guessing yourself before communicating with someone, you probably have reservations based on their past reactions. 

When you do need to communicate with such people,...

Don't Pretend to Be Above Office Politics

You work with a variety of people and you won't always get along with everyone. Telling yourself, "I don't engage in office politics, I tell it like it is," is a flawed tactic that might just cause more trouble.

When you stick your foot in your mouth, all you can do is apologize and explain it was a genuine mistake.

Ask Questions

Ask your contacts in any new environment.

  • Are there sensitive topics that I shouldn't discuss without talking to you first?
  • Can you draw an organizational chart for me?
  • Who should my main point of contact be for this project?
  • Is there a certain process I should follow for this task? Is it okay if I talk to this person first?
  • With whom should I be engaging?

With a clear understanding of how they work and are their organizational hierarchy, you're less likely to do something that will cause unnecessary drama or miscommunication.

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Introduce some greenery

One study found that workers in spaces with plants showed a 15 % higher productivity compared to those in plain...

Show appreciation

Creating motivation and making your team feel appreciated is a critical part of long-term productivity.

Encourage your team to keep gratitude journals - writing down a couple of sentences about what you are currently grateful for a couple of times a week. This practice improves productivity by increasing happiness.

Create some privacy

If people can't focus on their work, they are less effective in areas like collaboration and learning, and they are less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Workplaces with a balance between individual focus and collaboration are more innovative, creative and encouraging.

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Tony Robbins

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” 

Tony Robbins
Know your outcome

Figure out your “why.” Consider these questions.

  • What opportunities will become available by learning that new thing?
  • What would you do if you could use your desired skill right now?
  • Will you have a deeper relationship with your family/friends? Grow your business? 
Model the best

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.

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