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How women can succeed at office politics

posted 7 Oct 2011, 12:38 by Ines Wichert

Organisational politics brings with it connotations of intrigue, manoeuvring and favouritism. It is rarely associated with positive attributes and it is often avoided by women. Nevertheless, many reluctantly recognise that those who use political behaviour in a skilled manner seem to advance faster in organisations – they always seem to be aligned to the right people, have important insider knowledge and are in favour with those in power. One way to help women overcome their reluctance for politicking in the workplace is to use different terminology. Phrases such as sharing success and building effective relationships can convey a different impression, but retain the same end result.

To become a skilled operator in an organisation’s political arena, try the following:

·         Share personal success stories. This is an integral part of career success. It’s not about bragging, it’s about helping your very busy boss understand what you have delivered. Without you sharing, he or she won’t always know.

·         Find yourself a mentor, an effective mentor. Psychosocial support is a great thing to have but we know that the really effective mentors share information about unwritten organisational rules and provide access to powerful networks. Be selective in your choice of mentor and ask for the information you are currently not getting.

·         Network, network, network. Networking really is as important as everyone always makes it out to be. Find ways of building one-to-one relationships with people who are important to your career and keep them up-to-date on your progress.

·         If you find networking with men difficult, go prepared. What is the latest business deal or major sporting event that has taken place? Remember that men like to comment on things such as sports and business rather than sharing personal information early on in a conversation.

·         Change the terminology. Think about sharing successes and building winning relationships rather than self-promotion and ingratiation. Organisational politics become more palatable when you think of it in these terms.


Extract from How Women Can Succeed at Office Politics, published July 2011. For full article, please go to