Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Office Politics

Office politics. Cliques. Hierarchies. Alignments. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t do business without ‘em.

But what if you really, really don’t like dealing with office politics? Would it help to know that you’re not alone? Because you’re not; far from it.

Office politics is difficult and painful

Researchers Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott recently discovered that many female managers feel that engaging in political behavior is difficult and painful. Some even viewed it as “evil”.

Evil may be a rather strong word, but my experience has been that most women find it hard to see how navigating office politics can be anything other than a negative experience. Not only is it unpleasant, but office politics can be a tough task to master.

According to a pre-workshop survey of 100 aspiring women leaders in hi-tech who attended my workshop in 2013, only 2% “strongly agreed” that they knew how to navigate office politics in a positive, effective way.

So we’ve established that if you don’t exactly jump out of bed every morning, excited to go to work and play the game of office politics, you aren’t alone. But here’s the thing: by ignoring office politics, you could be hurting you career in more ways than you can imagine.

Politically savvy people do better in their careers

Research by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that people who are politically savvy have better career prospects, better career trajectories, and are seen as more promotable. They are also less likely to succumb to career- limiting derailment.

An author and careers expert, Erin Burt notes, “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.”

Any way you look at it, office politics are here to stay. But the good news is that there are ways to get better at it, and they’re probably a lot easier than you think.

You can learn to be positively politically savvy

So what can be done to make office politics more palatable and easier to navigate? The answer: build the skill of being positively politically savvy.

The authors of Political Skill at Work (Davies-Black, 2010), the result of over two decades of research into organizational politics, claim that political skill is not necessarily manipulative. “…properly applied,” they say, “it makes good things happen, both for those who use it and for the organizations in which they work.” They identified four competencies of people who are positively political:

1. Social astuteness;
2. Interpersonal influence;
3. Networking ability;
4. Sincerity.

In other words, build your influencing and networking skills, and do it with sincerity – and positivity – to succeed. While you’re doing that, pay attention to the social dynamics that surround you at work, and you’ll build positive skills for navigating office politics, and as a bonus – become more promotable.

And that’s not evil at all, is it?!

Want more? Watch “Win at the Game of Office Politics”, available immediately when you register for the Emerging Women Leaders Webinar Series.

Additional Resources:

• Ruderman, M.N. and Ohlott, P.J. (2002). Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
• Women and Political Savvy By Jean Brittain Leslie
and William A. Gentry, Ph.D. Center for Creative Leadership. October 2012.
• Political Skill at Work: Impact on Work Effectiveness by Gerald R. Ferris, Sherry L. Davidson, Pamela L. Perrewt.

Twitter
Follow Me
Tweet
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Twitter
Follow Me
Tweet
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?
How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?

It’s well known that women still deal with a pay gap relative to men. But

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly