Political Game - Are You A Winner Or A Loser?

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The Winners Commandments
Reggie Von Zugbach (1995) argues that winning the organization game is about overcoming the human and organizational barriers to gaining power with minimum effort and maximum rewards. While the term power can be used to describe wealth, status and influence, it also refers to the individual's ability to maintain control over their activities without interference from others.

Power is about deciding what you want, and making sure that you get it:
  1. Me first. Nobody else will put your interest before their’s.
  2. There are no absolute rules. Other people's ideas of right and wrong do not apply to you.
  3. The organization is there to serve your interest, not the other way round.
  4. Your on your own. Nobody is going to help you become a winner.
  5. Be paranoid. Watch out, the bastards are out to get you.
  6. Suck up to those who matter and suck up well. Identify the key people in the system who will help you.
  7. Say one thing and do another. You need to pay lip-service to the organization's cherished notions of how things should be done.
  8. Be a team player, but make sure you beat your fellow team members.
  9. Remember that the truth is not always to your advantage. Those who control your future do not necessarily want to hear the bad news. (claiming plausible denial on their part)
  10. Manipulate the facts to suit your interest. Even when things are bad you should come up smelling of roses.
  11. Get your retaliation in first. When there is blood on the organization's carpet, make sure its not yours.
  12. Blow your own trumpet - or better still, get someone else to do it for you.
  13. Dominate your environment or it will dominate you.
The Losing Manager
The Price of failure in the organization game is losing it, and losers not only fail to attain power for themselves, they spend the rest of their careers concentrating on all those activities which are typically associated with losers.

Here are just a few examples:
  1. Attending meetings where there is no political decision to be made.
  2. Caring about the task, the organisation and its people.
  3. Treating existing rules with sanctity rather than contempt.
  4. Doing a task that could have been delegated.
  5. Performing a task to a higher standard than is necessary.
  6. Performing a task for which the team gets the credit.
  7. Being available and allowing others to interrupt you.
  8. Volunteering.
  9. Reading every memo, letter, report and other type of document which lands in your in-tray.
  10. Refusing to say 'no' when asked to do something.
  11. Asking for permission to do something.
Source: from Von Zugbach (1995, pp 1-2 and 7 and 14)
also Power, Politics and Organizational Change Buchanan et al (2008 pp 29 and 34)

Kind regards

Stephan Toth
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Great post Stephan! It's tough to be a loser, they get all the hard work and none of the credit. Much better to live by the Winners Commandments.

This brings to mind an article by Robert McGannon, Intelligent Disobedience: The Difference Between Good and Great Project Managers

Robert says, "Intelligent disobedience means being different, with specific purposes. PMs should not behave counter to processes, or ruffle feathers without a specific intent and goal for doing so. When effectively applied, however, acting or behaving differently than is expected can yield significant results." In the words of Grace Hopper, "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission."

It's not always the most qualified or cleverest people that succeed, it's those that play the political game well and take risks. They are the ones asked for permission, not the ones asking for permission.

So what's it to be?

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So right Duncan,
In my experience only losers ask for permission to do something or not do something and in doing so can make you appear to be indecisive and weak.

Even simple issues can set a negative pattern of assumptions and create future problems from the people that you deal with.

Consider the different expected outcomes of these two statements.

1) Going to your supervisor or manager and saying Hi John, please can I take next Tuesday morning off to go to the dentist, doctor or hospital. Followed by a protracted reason of why you need to take the day off.

2) Going to the same person and saying, Hi John, I am not coming in on Tuesday morning because I have a dentist, doctors or hospital appointment. You will need to arrange cover for me.

Obviously the first one is passive, almost humbling and is many times more likely to receive an off handed NO you cant take the morning off. This may be supported by irrelevant quotations like, I need you here, your paid to be here every day, your contracted to work 40 hours or some other form of emotional or actual blackmail to make sure that you come into work on that morning. It also opens the door to a protracted argument that leads to resentment on both sides.

The second expression is confidant, assertive and decisive and the phraseology is designed to kill any form of argument.

After all, you could have not gave him any warning and just phoned in sick on the day.

The simple facts are that you wont be in on that morning and he needs to arrange cover for you and that is the end of the discussion.

Decisive people say - I am ........ (Adult)

Indecisive people say - Can I ....... (Child)

The same principle applies to You will and Will you, but here you have to seriously consider how you wrap it in the sentence to make it accepable to the recipient.

You decide which attitude wins most of the time.

You decide which attitude gets the promotion most of the time.

Decisive or Indecisive.

Kind regards

Stephan Toth
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