Influence and Office Politics

Last month, The Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “Don’t Dismiss Office Politics—Teach It.” The article eloquently states that people who succeed in their careers—and help their companies succeed—know how to play office politics that benefit themselves and their companies.

From the article:

When talented executives combine a knowledge of what their company needs with an ability to get things done, everyone benefits. Conversely, when a promising career falters because of poor political skills, companies have to spend time and money finding a replacement, and performance suffers in the meantime.

Being politically savvy is not about pushing others down or being untruthful to advance your own cause. Instead, it means building networks—relationships—with people inside and outside your company who can provide useful information and assistance. It means not picking fights over issues that aren’t critical. It means informing others in the company about your contributions and accomplishments, and asking for advice and help, particularly from those senior to you.*

We were delighted with many aspects of the article. Our Exercising Influence program has been teaching the skills necessary for mutually beneficial office politics for years. Influence skills are all about building relationships, networks, and getting things done. Just in case you’re reading about Exercising Influence for the first time, the program teaches influence through specific Expressive and Receptive influence behaviors.

Expressive behaviors such as “Refer to Goals and Benefits” and “Envision” build the kind of relationships that benefit everyone. Receptive behaviors, such as “Ask Open-Ended Questions” and “Identify with Other,” build trust in dealing with senior co-workers. Indirect influence is also important in office politics, especially the tactic of disengaging. When you disengage, you decide not to pick a fight. We like to explain disengaging as “living to influence another day.”

The complete article can be read by following this link. Here’s to hoping you can influence your way to successful office politics—and better business results.

*”Don’t Dismiss Office Politics—Teach It” by Jeffrey Pfeffer, The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2011

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