Over the years, there have been countless articles and studies on how women can overcome their distaste for office politics to ascend to the pinnacle of career success. Just the terminology “corporate politics” brings immediate disdain and anxiety.
While the coaching tips and recommendations, for the most part, make sense, the one persistent obstacle to their adoption is the pervasive belief that playing politics in the workplace is disingenuous. In other words, “I don’t care about the rules, I don’t want to play the game.”
How many of you feel this way?
Can politics and authenticity co-exist? Absolutely. If you can leave yourself open to this possibility, you will see that they complement one another. My goal is to share the following tips that will open the door to new and more significant opportunities.
I will present the following to you in the form of questions. Within your answers, you will find the harmony between your authentic self and your ability to leverage these traits to navigate the political waters of the corporate world.
- What comes more naturally to women than men?
Without coming across like I am criticizing men – who possess many admirable qualities and abilities, the one constant I have seen over the years is that women are more naturally collaborative than their male counterparts, and tend to seek meaningful connections.
From a political standpoint, this is the same as a politician shaking as many hands and building sponsorship from diverse audiences.
In the corporate world, this means reaching out to as many people as possible whether they be allies, advocates, mentors or someone in the mail room. Touch as many people’s lives as you can, and the wave of their respect and enthusiasm will carry you to the highest levels.
Tip: Manage your career as if you are running for office, continually building sponsorship, expanding relationships with other females and helping others to succeed.
- What is the best way to solve a problem?
Whenever I have asked this question, the response I unanimously get is that women are more focused on the process of research following validation, rather than just offering a spontaneous answer. Through thoughtful engagement, it becomes a collective versus individual solution, inviting everyone involved to have a degree of ownership for the outcome.
From a political standpoint, this approach makes sense on many levels.
It translates into a thoughtful and logical approach to a problematic situation by ensuring all members of the team have a voice. You are also sharing or distributing the risk. In other words, whether the proposed solution works or not, it will still be seen as a “team” effort.
Tip: Volunteer for high profile projects where you can showcase your ability to build and inspire a top performing team.
- What is most important; the here and now or the long-term?
Generally speaking, women tend to look beyond the immediacy of a situation and take a longer-term view.
This long-range perspective is what, as an example, makes women better investors than men. A 2017 study reports that women will “outpace” their male counterparts by more than $250,000 in retirement income.
In a politically driven office environment with your ability to see down the road while still being cognizant of here and now realities provide you with a “balanced” lens through which to view the consequences of your actions. The ability to anticipate is a core political strength, and you have it naturally.
Tip: Imagine your career two to three moves ahead of where you are now and keep that vision in your mind. In today’s rapidly changing and globally diversified marketplace, what competencies are critical to showcase now to set you up for future roles?
Play To Your Real Strengths
As a woman, to win the political game, you do not have to change your authentic self or compromise your values. But you can capitalize on the above three competencies of collaboration, team-building accountability, and long-term vision to achieve your objectives.