TLP164: Why Office Politics Is Hard

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By Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos, Jan Rutherford, Jim Vaselopulos, and Experts on leadership development. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Whether it’s a team of 10 or 10,000, office politics matter. Jim and Jan talk about what office politics really is, how it’s changed over the years, and how to build a foundation for relationships that work for you, not against you. They also discuss why not all gossip (and humor) is bad, the importance of playing to your strengths, and adhering to ethical judgement.

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Key Takeaways

[2:33] Office politics can be thought of as devious and divisive in the business world. However, great leaders remember that we are in an environment of complex relations with many variables.

[4:25] While the size of our organizations has grown over time and the flow of information is faster, human condition is still the same.

[6:57] We can use the power we do have in ways to influence hopefully for the good, not just improve our status.

[9:17] A few of the practical steps one can take to make sure they are creating a culture of a positive office environment:

  1. Play to your strengths, and invite others to do the same.
  2. Relationships are key, and strong relationships allow you navigate the political minefield better.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. If you want to avoid the bloodless coup, you have to have relationships defend you when you aren’t around.
  5. Don’t get over sensitized to when others talk about you behind your back. There is such a good thing as good snickering.

[11:59] We spend up to 100,000 hours in our career throughout our lifetime, so it’s important to make them count.

[15:36] Great leaders pay attention to what’s going on around them, and aim for ethical judgment 100% of the time.

[20:39] Give people the chance to explain what they are looking for in an outcome and what keeps them motivated.

[22:47] You do not control your brand or reputation, that is determined by the people surrounding you.

[24:29] Manage your integrity and hold yourself up to the highest version of your honesty and values.

Quotable Quotes

  • “If you want to be respected and trusted, you have to respect and trust others.”
  • “If something is tough, assumptions might be making it tougher than it needs to be.”
  • “Be careful about what you say about other people.”
  • “Manage your integrity.”

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Clayton Christiansen

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203 episodes