Influence and Organizational Politics

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Organizational politics impacts influence building of leaders, in an organization.

Organizational politics

Politics are at work in your organization. Denying this or purposely abstaining from the use of politics will diminish your capabilities as a leader. Politics exist in every organization because the individuals and groups that make up an organization have different, and often competing, interests.

Often, the difficulties leaders must overcome have more to do with politics than obvious obstacles like technical competence. That’s why political power is valuable. Political power is the capacity to influence behavior and outcomes to accomplish objectives using the political network – or political frame – in an organization. As a leader, you can increase your influence and build political power by making appropriate and ethical use of politics.

Like any other tool, politics can be used in positive or negative ways, and the outcome can be either constructive or destructive, depending on your perspective. Generally speaking, politics are used constructively when they’re in the best interest of the organization.

Relationships are an integral part of your political power, just as they are important to your influence. As a leader, you need to build relationships with people who can advance your team’s efforts.

Before you can make appropriate use of politics, you need to take some time and study two important factors of the political realm:

  • your organization’s political frame, and
  • yourself

Cultivating positive politics

Leaders commonly apply two strategies to help them use political power appropriately for the good of the organization, and in positive ways. The first is to create strong relationships. And the second is to promote unifying goals and objectives.

To successfully influence others, you’ll need to create strong relationships. As a leader, you must build personal, one-on-one relationships with coworkers and colleagues, whether they’re fellow leaders, decision-makers, or any other member of the work community.

Keeping two concepts in mind will help you build and maintain strong relationships: respect and reciprocity. Everyone wants respect. But to get it, you have to give it, and that leads to reciprocity. In relationships, business or otherwise, you often get out what you put in. So, if you treat people with respect and are supportive of them, you’re likely to get the same treatment back.

Applying two techniques will help you create strong relationships when you are seeking support or trying to influence others

  • to understand the other person’s point of view, and
  • make the support mutual

The second strategy to help you use your political power, appropriately and in positive ways is to promote unifying goals and objectives. Organizations are inherently political. Whenever resources are limited, competing interests and competition for those resources gives rise to politics. One way you can minimize the competition is to promote unifying goals and objectives.

Competing interests make politics a fact of life in organizations. The competition for limited resources and the need to cooperate to achieve organizational goals introduces political behavior. Politics can be positive or negative, and as a leader, you must be careful to refrain from using politics in a negative way.


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