They described office politics as dirty, manipulative, and evil. Yet, they viewed office politics as a major waste of time, and they were hesitant to engage in any way. This can be a serious mistake. Politics can make or break your career. I learned my lesson about the importance of office politics in the beginning of my career. I received two promotions very quickly and thought the secret to getting ahead was doing great work.
But after eight years with a company and a rapid rise to an AVP role, I discovered that what I thought was the right formula for getting ahead was wrong. I was passed over for the promotion to VP despite my outstanding performance. What happened?
I avoided office politics and was therefore totally ignorant about how the decision for that VP job would be made. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but a critical one for anyone with ambition. Avoiding office politics can sabotage your career. I know this is not good news for women who may believe that their work alone will get them ahead.
But the reality is that it takes both great performance and political savvy to get ahead, especially in a complex competitive workplace. So what do you need to do to get ahead? What does an ambitious women need to do to successfully navigate a male-dominated organization that has landmines everywhere?
Strategies for Dealing with the Internal Dynamics, 2nd Edition
The answer is that you need to be politically savvy. And the good news is that political savvy is a skill, not a trait. What does it take to be politically savvy? First and foremost, it requires you to pay attention. Understand that your work alone will not get you promoted. Who has power and influence over your career? Who makes the key decisions about your future? Who influences those decisions? Is it your boss? If so, who is in their circle of influence?
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