Survival of the Savvy

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Survival of the Savvy

by Rick Brandon, Ph.D., and Marty Seldman, Ph.D.

Free Press © 2004, 301 pages, $26.00 (ISBN 0-7432-6254-9).

High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success

Organizational politics exist in every company. The authors of Survival of the Savvy define them as the “informal, unofficial and sometimes behind-the-scenes efforts to sell ideas, influence an organization, increase power, or achieve other targeted objectives” — but that is merely a practical definition. Real-life organizational politics have the power to be either constructive or destructive based on whether their targeted goals are for the company’s interest or only self-interests, or whether the influence efforts used to achieve those goals have integrity or not.

In Survival of the Savvy, executive trainers Rick Brandon and Marty Seldman show those at all levels of an organization how to develop the skills and political savvy to sell their ideas in an ethical and competent way and influence others for the good of their company.

Sabotage and Power Plays

In their work as executive coaches, the authors explain that they have seen many people at all levels of the playing field hurt by political blind spots. They write that these people suffer from stolen credit and personal agendas, sabotage and power plays, fear of speaking the truth to powerful people, or egos and favoritism. They write that they have watched overly political people do whatever they can to get into positions of power while damaging competent, loyal people or destroying organizational performance. Leaving a company and joining another is rarely the answer for victims, they explain, because the same dynamics often appear at the next company.

Organizational politics are human nature, they write, but there is a way for less political people to thrive in toxic settings. The authors explain that these people “can’t truly thrive until company leaders wake up and remove their blinders.”

To help executives ethically gain power, help their teams achieve greater influence and impact, and take bold steps to rescue the political cultures of their companies, the authors provide strategies they can use to improve their organizations. With the goal of “making organizational politics a personal virtue, career management tool, team development vehicle, and a cultural asset on the company balance sheet,” the authors describe the impact of political styles and the individual tactics that can make a difference. They also present many leadership tactics that can be used to detect deception and build savvy teams and a savvy company.

Political Style Impact

As individuals navigate their ways through the changing political climates within their organizations, the authors write, their goals of business impact, influence on the job and career growth are fully in line with the goals of the company. But reorganizations, downsizing, new bosses, new initiatives, competing agendas, past perceptions and predatory people with self-serving agendas can create destructive politics and lead to attrition. To help leaders understand the political styles and mind-sets of different people, the authors describe the two political styles that dominate organizations — the Power of Ideas style and the Power of Person style — and help them optimize their own style’s strengths and minimize its risks by avoiding extremes.

Next, the authors offer a way leaders can map the political styles of those around them and benefit from an awareness of these styles and their preferences. “We want to better collaborate and influence others by taking into account their operating systems,” they write. “When you lobby for an idea or collaborate, you’ll build more rapport and persuasion if you not only consider their business priorities, but also their political preferences.”

Corporate Buzz

After the authors have explained how readers can deactivate their political buttons by using a self-talk approach, they lay out a plan for detecting power dynamics, agendas and unwritten rules, and how to get a better grip on the corporate buzz that surrounds each of us. Other tips they offer include ways to promote yourself with integrity, methods to pump up your power image, and techniques for ethical lobbying and respecting ego and turf with savvy intelligence.

Their ways to use “conversational aikido” to defuse sabotage include: check your self talk, put aside responses for put-downs, use appropriate humor, listen defensively, ask for specifics, respond with firm vocabulary and balanced responses, and rely on the group. ~

Why We Like ThIs Book

Survival of the Savvy offers executives and employees the tools they need to create a work environment that can make the rest of their work more meaningful and satisfying. By helping people remove the negative aspects of corporate politics and manage their roles in it, the authors reveal a hidden path to organizational success. ~

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