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Understanding Power and Politics: The Key to surviving the Corporate Jungle

Updated on February 28, 2016

Politics in Organizations

Power and Politics can be used to achieve personal and organization goals. The use of power in organizations is called Organizational Politics.

Past Studies has identified several reasons for the existence of organizational politics some of which include;

  1. The diverse nature of human beings
  2. The Unlimited resources available as so many people are chasing after very few resources.

These issues highlighted encourage the use and abuse of power in organizations. Some individuals harbor the intention of acquiring and maintaining power for the benefit of a group or for their own personal interest. This is usually evident in periods of high uncertainty such As layoffs, market crisis and change in management.

Political behavior is not always negative. In fact in some cases, it could be used to resolve conflicts when the use legitimate authority or formal power has failed.

The renowned researcher Mintzberg describes people who exhibit political behavior as "playing games" and identified over twelve political games that are common in most organization. I will briefly discuss the four most common political games played in organizations which you have to be on the lookout for in order to survive and adapt in the corporate world.

The Four Most Common Political Games

The first and my personal favorite is

  1. The Insurgency Game: This is the act of resisting authority by passing down instructions to your subordinates in such a way that espected outcome of the instruction is not acheived. the aim here is to cause a non compliance, to make your subordinates look weak and incompetent.
  2. The Sponsorship games: Often call "godfatherism" which involves the attachement of oneself to someone who weilds immense power in return for loyalty and gratitude.
  3. The Coalition Building Game: this involves the building of power-hubs by forming coalitions with individuals that common objectives, interest, values, etc or with individuals with complementing features.
  4. The Whistle Blowing Game: This involves bypassing the authority within the organization inform the public of an injustice that happen inside the organization.

Being aware of the occurance of one or more of these political games within your organization would come in handle in the race to survive the coporate Jungle.


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