Consequently if anyone suggests a change to the network that might introduce business or technology risk the first phone call goes to Doug. If he’s not on board, nothing gets implemented. Knowing this, I was able to grease the skids to enable a significant strategic change that improved quality and reduced cost, a decision that never would have been approved if I had approached the guys at the top directly without first developing a good relationship with and tacit approval from Doug.
In just about every company, large or small, there’s a “Doug,” someone with vital subject matter expertise who wields significant influence beyond his or her official standing or station. This is but one example, of course, but it demonstrates that information rarely flows solely along lines defined by the organization chart. “Water cooler” conversations and other back-channel communications can be far more important than formal memos or meetings. Good ideas alone may not be enough without a champion to sponsor or promote them. Frankly, working both harder and smarter is oftentimes not enough either. Some of the hardest working people get nothing done because they do not know how to manipulate the system. This is why we all need to understand the way things are where we work, teach, or volunteer. And, we need to accept it even if we don’t like it…
We need to know the players, understand the game, work within the constraints we are handed, and be able to succeed in spite of them. This means playing politics. If you’re anything like me you hate that word, politics, but if you’re anything like me that’s because you don’t really understand it. I certainly didn’t. Through long experience, however, I have come to realize that who you know really is far more important than what you know… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, working the system for a good purpose is a good thing. For example, I once got an employee a well-deserved promotion during a companywide freeze on promotions. I took a lot of heat for it, but it was the right thing to do. And, it kept us from losing one of our top-performers to another company.
Politics are only bad when they’re self-serving.
In order to win the office politics game it is vital to take the long view, always keeping in mind what we’re trying to achieve. We must be certain to respond rather than react if interactions begin to get heated or our feelings get hurt. By leaving our egos at the door, keeping conversations professional, being willing to compromise, and giving others a face-saving way out we can get along with everyone better, which in turn means that they are more likely to respond to us in kind. We can then build alliances, work our spheres of influence, and advance our cause without generating any lasting ill-will.
That’s the way it is in most businesses today. As Musashi sagely states, we need to accept it.
About the Authors
- Br. Kris Wilder, OSF is a member of The Order of St. Francis, one of many active Apostolic Christian Orders. A National Representative for the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Traditional Martial Arts, he has earned black belts in three styles and teaches martial arts seminars worldwide
- Alain Burrese, J.D. is a former US Army sniper instructor who taught at the 2nd Infantry Division Scout Sniper School at Camp Casey, South Korea. He is also an attorney, speaker, and personal security, safety and self-defense instructor who has earned a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido.
- Wallace Smedley is an educator who has worked for Chuck Norris’ KICKSTART KIDS Foundation since 2002, and helped develop their Character Education Values Curriculum. Teaching karate in the public school system, he has helped thousands of kids build character and enhance their self-esteem.
- Lisa Christensen has worked as a Workers’ Comp Claims Examiner for over 30 years. An insurance executive, she is certified to adjudicate claims in Oregon and retains an Oregon General Lines Adjuster License. She has earned black belts in taekwondo and American Freestyle Karate.
- Lawrence Kane, COP-GOV is a Certified Outsourcing Professional in Governance and a senior leader at a Fortune® 50 corporation where, among other things, he is responsible for the strategy for a $1.1B per year organization. He has been studying and teaching martial arts since 1970.
Additional chapters include…
Precept 2: Do not seek pleasure for its own sake
Precept 3: Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling
Precept 4: Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world
Precept 5: Be detached from desire your whole life
Precept 6: Do not regret what you have done
Precept 7: Never be jealous
Precept 8: Never let yourself be saddened by a separation
Precept 9: Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others
Precept 10: Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love
Precept 11: In all things, have no preferences
Precept 12: Be indifferent to where you live
Precept 13: Do not pursue the taste of good food
Precept 14: Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need
Precept 15: Do not act following customary beliefs
Precept 16: Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful
Precept 17: Do not fear death
Precept 18: Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age
Precept 19: Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help
Precept 20: You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor
Precept 21: Never stray from the Way