Early in July I posted an entry about my first month in the corporate world. I spoke of the challenges of the corporate “political arena” and how I was working hard not to get “sucked into the vortex.” This has always been my interpretation of “corporate politics.” A negative, a barrier in the race to get things done. Well…

I recently was reading chapters from Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge by Geoffry Bellman. In the first paragraph of Chapter 7, Face the Politics, Mr. Bellman asks his reader to think of what words come to mind when you think politics? Be they company politics, family politics, community politics, etc. For me (and I imagine many of you) the thoughts are mostly of a negative connotation. Politics are someone else’s doing. They are the gossipers, the kiss-asses, the players. Politics are what get in the way.

Mr. Bellman disagrees and put politics in a different light. He writes in providing a summary of feedback from a group of executives asked to define politics:

“The way we get things done around here.” No, they did not each say exactly the
same words, but they all agreed with the definition … . So politics is about getting things done. These “in charge” people agreed, and all of us “not in charge” people should too. There is something about the idea of an organization without politics that disturbs, even chills, me. And, I have found much more success, much more to contribute, by moving toward the political dynamics than staying away from them.

 

So, when defined as above, politics makes more sense. The negative stigma is slightly relieved. Now, does this mean we should all go swimming in the political waters? No. But, as Mr. Bellman instructs, in order to move forward, to lead, we need to strive to understand the political environment. Who are the decision makers and how are those decisions influenced and made. Look around you…who gets what they want? Who amongst you exhibits leadership? Who is the quiet influencer?

Personally, I will be working to understand this better in my organization. Not to be a player, but specifically not to be an outsider. Not to tip my nose up and say I’m above the politics. Because honestly, we all contribute to the culture and the political atmosphere of our environments. The challenge is to work towards your personal and professional goals with honesty and integrity – be true to yourself. Both you and your organization will benefit.

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