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Is Politics Really Dirty?

May 23, 2017 in Careers

Office Politics

The youth start their careers with an assumption that if they work hard, keep to themselves and contribute as a team player, their work will get the attention it deserves. However, the results are not always as desired. Many times, a perceived underperformer surpassed many hardworking professionals when it comes to promotion. Different people interpret such instances differently. Many believe that the underperformers get promotions or the credit of the work due to their connections with the bosses or management. While others, although small in numbers, proactively learn from them and make sure that they understand the nuances of people dynamics in the organizations in addition to the work they are responsible for.

No matter what line of work you’re in, and no matter how big or small your office is – politics will always be at play. Some argue that people who get promoted sought advancement via self-promotion, empire building, bandwagon jumping and good old-fashioned backstabbing. However, it is not entirely accurate. When there are a lot of talented people working together, human emotions, individual ambitions, behavioral differences and interpersonal dynamics bound to exist. Therefore, politics exist whenever a group of people works together, even though many consider it dirty and downright petty.

If we wish to foster good working relationships, get things done or get ahead, experts argue that we should actively and consciously engage in office politics.

Leadership can’t exist without Politics

Rauch, a scholar at the Brookings Institution observes that, “We live in a world of second and often third choices, and in order to govern one must make decisions and engage in practices that look bad up close and are hard to defend in public but which, nonetheless, seem to be the best alternative at the time.” This is why many times leaders make decisions which may look weird to others; however, it is the best decision in the organization’s interest. It also explains why, at times, the most successful leaders are accused of high-handedness or unfair expectations by the public of some of the employees. For leaders, politics is a bitter pill which is necessary to sustain the organization’s momentum despite all individual differences.

Set an Agenda

There is no shortcut to leadership – if you want to be a leader, you have to act like one. Constantly downplaying your contributions is not the best way to get ahead. Be tactful in promoting your achievements without it coming across as being boastful. It is best to realize that our workplaces are by nature political organizations and the only means to survive is to be a part of it. It doesn’t mean you have to go against your rules and play dirty. There are always two ways to get ahead – the good and the bad. Knowing what aligns with your values and makes you comfortable is the key to good politics.

Ethical politics starts with being diplomatic with your co-workers. Forge strong ties at the workplace by treating everyone with respect and avoid negative talks.

Learn how to work smart instead of working hard all the time. Aaron Taube says, “At work, you’re essentially managing two different things – your actual productivity, and how that productivity is being perceived by your bosses and peers.”

Final thoughts

Politics is not bad. It is the people who make it bad. Knowing how to act without getting into the muck is important to get the most of the office politics. Think out of the box. Be creative in your approach to situations to give yourself an edge over your co-workers.

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