You may be a high-ranking executive, or someone who is still working his or her way up the corporate ladder, or perhaps you are just trying to break into the business. Wherever your position on the career chain, you may now or in the future be in a position where you have to navigate the politics of your work environment. Knowing how to maneuver in a complicated system holds the same challenges whether you are a veteran or a newbie in the business. If you are figuring out your next career move within your own company, or exploring what opportunities might lie elsewhere, remember that wherever you may roam the politically savvy attributes you hone will come in handy along the way.
By being politically savvy I am not meaning to imply that you need to suck-up or kick ass in order to get ahead in your career. Politically savvy people are opportunists. They find a way to make a situation work regardless of the challenges. People who possess strong communication, listening and negotiation skills often find themselves in a good place when it comes to finding, exploring and creating opportunities for themselves-even if it’s outside of their own company. Learning to notice the signs allows you to be open to change and politically savvy people know the difference. Having a strong sense of self and knowing when to lay down your pride is essential in winning or losing the battle. It’s not just about having intellectual smarts that helps you get ahead in business, it’s knowing when to pivot to the right when the odds are stacking up against you and to not view this as a failure or giving in.
Building your allies both internally and externally helps to establish your power base whether you are in an entry-level job, or in a leadership position. Building partnerships within the organization means aligning yourself to others who share your vision and your goals and who may have similar experiences than you do. Remember to check any behavior that will potentially get in the way of forging those key relationships and knowing when to set appropriate boundaries with your co-workers and peers. Being open to changes means that you remain accommodating and cooperative even if you potentially disagree with the direction the companies is moving in. If you are authentic in your opinions, you will know how to express your differing point of view without alienating the rest of the team-this is crucial if you want to stay in your job or move up in your position. Of course if you don’t care much what anyone else believes, than by all means, continue to piss off the masses and see how far that will get you in your career!
Another way to survive the maze of office politics is to maintain a high integrity in what you are trying to accomplish. Know that it’s okay to be selfish over being stubborn. Selfish people have self-interest and motivation and that does not always need to imply a negative thought. People with a strong self-interest have a need for a greater good and know that if they achieve their goals, it will benefit others not only themselves. Being stubborn in your point of view implies you only have self-interest for YOU and no one else. There is a subtle but distinct difference when you are planning your next career move and learning the best ways to survive office politics. Remember acknowledging your own vulnerability is admirable and breaks down the prideful walls that keep you apart from others as well as your next job. Think of being a guest in someone homes the next time you are in a meeting that gets out of control or you are in a disagreement with someone over a matter, step back and remember your manners and check your ego at the door.
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