Are you wondering why some people have a lot of power in organizations while others don't? Do you want to know about research on power in organizations from a leading professor at Stanford Business School? Take the poll at the end of the blog to tell us how well you understand office politics at your own job.
Politics exist in all organizations. Often it is a matter of whether it's subtle or in the open. You can ask yourself if subtle politics is better than when it's more overt. I don't know. The main point is that this goes on so get used to it. The idea that you can escape this by size of organization or governance form is wrong.
Pfeffer is a noted authority on the concept of power in organization and his new book is a must read for anyone looking to better understand office politics and power. I am copying selected excerpts from his book and reviews to give you a taste of ideas in the book:
If I had to bet on one characteristic that makes people successful it's persistence and resilience. You need to be like the water that wears down the rock. Setbacks happen to
everyone but successful people often show amazing resilience.
You are not responsible for your career; it's the boss or set of bosses above you who are responsible for your career longevity and success. Dealing with those bosses requires flattery and managing up. We overemphasize the technical aspect of our jobs given that so much our career success is a matter of being savvy about power and politics.
When I teach this to MBA students they understand it analytically, but emotionally they are very uncomfortable. They've done well based on their individual academic achievements and they are ill-at-ease with the notion that diligent work and good performance is not necessarily what gets rewarded. We also have Sloan Fellows, who are mid-career executives, in the class and they tell the younger classmates 'That's just the way the world is, get over it.'
Do you know people who have chosen to ignore office politics and suffered for it?
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