How powerful is politics in business? The connection between the two is often hard to explain, but somehow they are closely connected. Did you ever happen to lose a job or a promotion in favor of a person who hadn’t worked harder than you, or made more significant contributions that you? Was it that person’s character that got him/her the job, the fact that he/she knew everyone around there, or could it be that you simply did not understand the politics going on around that business?
When we hear the word ‘politics’, we naturally think of politicians, political parties, political strategies, and so forth. But have you ever considered the term ‘politics’ from a business point of view? When it comes to politics in business, the former means the difference between failure and success in the latter. And, more often than not, politics can define one’s personal career. You can enjoy benefits or suffer penalties as a result of the way politics influences every business. If you happen to be among the most appreciated employees, decisions may go your way, but if you are ‘invisible’ to your bosses or they have nothing but ill feelings for you, some penalties may be coming your way.
When it comes to business decisions or work environments, we often hear expressions such as ‘it was nothing but politics’ or ‘that place is very political’. What do these expressions mean? And how can you be part of the game, and know how to play your politics? When you have managed to build a strong relationship with your customers, you understand the business thoroughly, and you are respected throughout the organization, but your superiors still think that you’re not doing well enough, this could be a clear example of people using politics to drive their own personal agenda.
It’s only fair to say that there’s no business without politics, and that its level of sophistication depends on the size of the organization. It’s understandable that the complexity of politics is proportional with the size of the company, because, after all, politics means power, and the more players are involved in the game, the more there is at stake.
Like everywhere else, we can speak of bad politics and good politics in business. Good politics refer to building strong networks at all the levels of that company or organization, spending time with employees from all levels, having a solid understanding of the keys to the success of the organization, and so forth. Good politics in business is about sharing information and encouraging other people to do the same thing. Bad politics refers to exactly the opposite. In the end it all comes down to driving your own agenda, as mentioned before. However, deft leadership should not be confused with bad politics in business. The two are very different.
Unfortunately, it seems that bad politics has got its share of businesses, and we see more of that than of good politics, because there are more bad politicians than there are good, and the former still continue to make the rule. But, in the end, it is up to you how you play the game.