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How to deal with office politics and emerge as a true leader

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Office politics is everywhere: a big company, medium-sized company, or a small company. And this is to across industries and geographies.

You can’t ignore office politics

Companies are made up of human beings. And where there are human beings, there will always be politics. Will the future world of AI and robots have zero politics? That would be a rich discussion for another time.

You can choose to participate in office politics or you can choose to stay away from it. But one thing you cannot do is ignore it.

Therefore, office politics is here to stay. Here is how can you deal with office politics and address politics in a very professional way and emerge as a leader.

Show leadership by keeping yourself above politics

By staying above the office politics area, you can demonstrate that you are really about leading rather than following.

  • You absolutely should demonstrate that you are an objective leader
  • If people around you are speaking negatively about a person or a project or a team, stay away from it
  • If the conversation is turning negative, figure out how to move it in a positive direction

Political issues = controversial, thorny issues

In spite of taking the high road, there will likely be controversial and thorny. And these areas can’t be sidestepped, they have to be addressed.

Here are some ways to bring objectivity and leadership when you are dealing with political topics in the office.

#1 Approach it from a customer’s lens

Here’s the approach that you can use to help you and your team to figure the right thing to do” what is the customer perspective on this topic? The customer’s always right. Customers are the reason your company is in business.

Having a customer’s perspective and getting an understanding of how this topic affects customers is a great way to get above office politics.

#2 Data is your friend

A great way to be objective and clear about a controversial topic is to make data and facts your friend. So, whenever you’re dealing with politics, whenever you’re dealing with gossip, whenever you’re dealing with posturing from other people, think about how can you make your communication clear and fact-based. Because making data and fact part of your DNA will really help you get above office politics and put yourself above hearsay, put yourself above gossip.

Always ask yourself, “What’s the right thing to do given these datapoints and facts?”

#3 Take the “whole company” perspective

Now that you’ve taken the customer perspective, now take the whole company perspective and see what’s the right thing to do for the entire company

Many times, leaders might be optimizing a decision to better suit a specific function within a company. That might come at the expense of another function in the company which destroys value.

Customer first, then it’s company, and then it’s your immediate function or your immediate team. But by having the most data and the most facts with you, you can rise above office politics and you can rise above all of the gossip and the innuendo that goes on by communicating facts.

Building your personal brand above office politics

Here’s the thing that will emerge as you move out of office politics and you emerge as the fact-based, objective leader: you will be creating a great personal brand. Your personal brand will get a lot of steroids the more you rely on data, the more you rely on facts.

That’s the way you can start positioning yourself to the next level as well. So, you’re doing a double whammy here. Number one is you are removing yourself from office politics, which, in itself, is a great thing, but then you’re starting to build your personal branding, which will help your trajectory and your organization.