The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Navigating Corporate Politics

Posted June 17, 2013 by Bobbie LaPorte in On the Ladder
When you hear the term “office politics”, if you are like most of your peers you immediately conjure up negative images of self-promotion, “brown-nosing” and having to sacrifice your ethics and integrity to get ahead, right?

Well, think again. Politics exists in every level of the organization, and the sooner you decide to embrace it and learn to skillfully navigate the political waters the better off you will be – or you may be the benefactor of someone else’s political game plan.

Here are three perspectives to help you create a more positive view of office politics:

  1. Think more in terms of “organizational awareness” than politics. Get to know the shadow organization in your company, the unofficial, informal network of relationships; the people who have power and influence and get things done. Find out who they are and make it your business to get to know them, their goals and how you might help them. And don’t try to change or resist your company’s culture – find out ways to participate and fit in.
  2. It’s really about positive communications and building relationships, which women generally excel at. Have a plan to build and nurture your professional network inside your company. Get to know people outside of your department – who are they, what do they do and how can you support each other? And seek out people in your company who are successful – what is their secret to success?
  3. Use your network – and your new organizational awareness, in a way that is ethical and authentic for you. Be confident about who you are, do your best work and be sure to practice reciprocity and publicly recognize and praise others. People don’t always have to like you, but they should respect you.

You have a choice! Try these steps to change your perspective on office politics and to make them work for you. If you know what you are trying to achieve you can use office politics to improve your chances for recognition and advancement!

About the Author

Bobbie LaPorte

Bobbie LaPorte, is Founder and Principal of RAL & Associates, a consulting firm providing career and leadership development services to technology, financial services and healthcare organizations. RAL & Associates produces the “When She Speaks” – Women in Leadership Series in San Francisco, sponsored by blue chip Bay Area companies. Before founding RAL & Associates, Bobbie served in GM, COO and CMO roles in several Fortune 50 companies, including IBM, GE and United Healthcare, as well as two healthcare technology start-ups. A certified career coach, she has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Harvard. She is a nationally-recognized expert on the powerful relationship between physical fitness and career success, and an accomplished triathlete and multi-sport coach. Bobbie is currently training for her fifth Ironman triathlon. When she is not coaching executives or Ironman triathletes she proudly serves on a number of Bay Area non-profit boards and happily rescues senior Golden Retriever dogs