Career masterclass: Be the office politician

'The good of man must be the end of the science of politics', said Aristotle. Unfortunately, for most of us, it's still an everyday challenge. Here's how to make the most of it.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 25 Feb 2016

Accept it. Politics is a necessary part of working life; ignore it and your career will soon stall. Remember: you don't have to bitch or backbite to be a great politician. With good intentions and the right delivery, politics can be about nimble networking or skilful negotiation. So get off your high horse and get ahead.

Become a chameleon. Every organisation has a unique culture and the best politicians know theirs inside out. Scrutinise dress code, office hours, communication style and more until you can play by every unwritten rule.

Find the power brokers. Those who influence decisions and allocate resources are not necessarily those at the top. Find out who's got fingers in which important pies, watch them, understand them and get them onside.

Weigh it up. Before you use politics to achieve a goal (getting your new product idea to the board), evaluate your campaign. List its benefits (a new revenue source), potential costs (outshining your friend in product development) and the risks of getting it wrong. A good politician picks battles he can win.

Manage your reputation. Good PR is half the political battle. Keep your halo gleaming by controlling stress, downplaying poor performance and steering clear of trouble-makers. Be seen to be having a positive impact on everyone, all the time.

Tackle dirty politicians. If a colleague is taking credit for your ideas, circulate them publicly. If he's excluding you from meetings, ask an ally to invite you. If he's blackmailing you, expose him. Defend your campaign at all costs.

Look to your leaders. Who rises to the top in your organisation? Are they practical project managers or creatives? Align your skills and traits to match theirs.

Keep your motives positive. Without them you're just another snake in the grass.

- The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99

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