Slaying the Politics Dragon

Guest post from Robert Murray (and great advice):

I have been getting an unusually high number of inquiries
this week from young leaders asking about office or corporate politics.  One person asked me if I thought they should
take a course in it.  Another asked if I
thought they should keep their mouth shut when their boss tells them one thing
and then abruptly changes their position in a meeting.
Corporate politics, unfortunately, are everywhere.  I have even seen them appear in the most
amazing cultures and at fantastically successful businesses.  It amazes me the lengths people will go to
“one-upping” a colleague in the workplace.
As a senior leader and former C-Suite executive in a Fortune
100 organization, I have seen some politicking that would make you want to turn
out the lights and curl up in the fetal position with a blanket.  Talented, highly educated, supposedly mature
adults doing their most evil best to further themselves at someone else’s
First, let’s talk
about why it happens…
Corporate politics happens for a number of reasons.  Operationally, they include leaders competing
for limited resources or the culture being one of a highly competitive work
environment.  On an individual basis
(which is usually the cruelest and one that is a derivative of an individual
suffering from an inferiority complex or lack of confidence) politics are
played out when there is a burning desire to advance, they want to gain
popularity or attention or they want to mitigate threats to their perceived
power.  It plays out in a number of ways
however the results are always the same.
Thriving in the
environment or with the nemesis that is making your life miserable…
First, decide if what you are experiencing is a direct
conflict with your personal values.  If
it is, you need to decide if this is a place you want to work at.  If leaving is not an option, read on…

1.    Learn the value of “Timing.”  If your boss is dealing with pressure
(stress) from another place, you asking for something completely unrelated may
cause an adverse reaction.  Always be
aware of your timing.

2.    Learn the value of “Optics.”  If there is a budget crunch going on and you
propose a new, huge training program that is going to significantly improve
revenue, you may be hit with surprise resistance from people that are getting
their programs cancelled.

3. Learn to observe, listen and get the “whole
picture” before you take a position
.  In
the world of politics, it comes at you from all places.  When you seek first to understand everything,
you can see through the games that may be going on.

4. Respect others and their turf.  Never stick your nose into a team member’s
work area if they do not report to you. 
Bad form and a recipe for a dust up.

5.  Never, ever gossip or be involved in
.  This is the root of nasty, drama
filled politics.

6. This is the “Killer App” for mitigating politics…  Be forever positive.  Always talking about other people,
departments and ideas in a positive light will ensure that you will be viewed
as a team player and a trusted resource. 
Your stress level will go WAY down and you will be able to deal with
more because you are not suffering from the effects of all the negative energy.

Remember, unless you when the Power Ball Lottery (And that
comes with a whole new set of problems), you will have to work for some 40
years.  You need to learn how to deal
with politics or work in any organization will not be much fun.
Robert Murray is a Key Note Speaker, International
CXO, Executive Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed
book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and
life success.” You can find Robert at: