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The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle par [Reardon, Kathleen Kelly]
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Longueur : 320 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
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Description du produit

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1

The Parameters of Organizational Power and Politics

There are two good reasons why the most coveted prize of business is called "the secret handshake." The first is that most people believe the political savvy necessary to break down barriers to the inner circles of organizations is inaccessible to all but a very few. That explains why there's a dearth of useful information devoted to the topic. Even organization experts consider politics an enigmatic puzzle. The second reason is that the path to the acquisition of this prize is purposely kept ambiguous by many of those who have successfully traversed it. They share sparingly the whereabouts and characteristics of the mazes, obstacles, and dangers that must be overcome in its pursuit. Some even deny that there is a path. After all, if just anyone could achieve the secret handshake, there would be no value in having attained it. It's an exclusive club, and certain conditions must be met for membership--certain hurdles overcome. Many of these hurdles have nothing to do with technical competence.

While the path to acquiring the secret handshake varies across organizations, both the existing research and the practical experiences of the many people I interviewed for this book indicate that political savvy is a prerequisite, more so even than job competence. This is especially true at higher levels of organizations where the signals are ever more ambiguous.

The prized executive offices are scarce, so competition is fierce. Yet at the loftier levels a high degree of professionalism is required. It's important for everyone to appear as though they are above pettiness and petulance. Consequently, political warfare at this level is subliminal and more often comprised of hidden minefields and stealth bombers than hand-to-hand combat. As the stakes get higher, the battle gets rougher, even if you can't see any weapons.

To the successful executive in a competitive organization, day-to-day life is politics. There is no doubt that a high level of field-based competence is needed to get ahead. But choose any two competent people, and the one who has political savvy, agility in the use of power, and the ability to influence others will go further.

Politics in the common vernacular refers to what other people do to get their way; as such it has negative connotations. Politics in organizations involves going outside the usual, formally sanctioned channels, something nearly every successful manager has done at one time or another. The real political moves are the ones not written down anywhere. Simply put, politics is an illegitimate means of getting things done.

So much of life is politics, especially at work. How should you approach a difficult situation? When should you take forceful action to stand up for yourself? How can you predict and prepare for others' reactions? Should you or shouldn't you fight a battle? If you do, how will you identify your allies and enemies? All these questions are part of daily life at work. As Caroline Nahas, managing director, Southern California, at Korn-Ferry International, sees it, there are two choices with regard to politics: "Either sit in the stands or get in the game and be a player." Yet Nahas doesn't see politics as necessarily--or even largely--negative: "To be politically astute, you need to read where the trend lines are, be ahead of the game, and focus on areas that you think will be important." There's nothing underhanded about this aspect of politics. In fact, it's constructive for the individual and the organization. Not all politics is so benign, however.

It didn't take Steve Harcourt, senior executive at a leading sports products company, long to learn this. As he describes it, he thought he'd been hired "to get all the money possible--to make a huge profit for the company." What he learned instead was that the CEO wanted increased profits but not at any cost. When Harcourt insulted one of the CEO's favored guys by suggesting that he do a few things differently, the response was not positive. Harcourt was edged out for a while. The CEO never said anything directly to him, but he got the message. He now believes, "If you ignore politics and make someone above you look bad, you're going to have a short career." So Harcourt's rule of thumb is to ask himself, "Can anything good come out of this?" That has gotten him the label of "political animal" at times, but as he sees it, politics is reality. You have to know when to speak up and when not to. Another Harcourt axiom: Don't tell the boss who doesn't want all the profits you could get for him that he isn't getting them. As Harcourt sees it, you have to know the primary goals and shape what you do to fit them.

Since political tactics aren't overtly sanctioned, they give rise to games that people play to build power bases, defeat rivals, and promote in-group members over those in the out-group. When such tactics work, over time they become embedded in the culture of the organization. At that point, few important things get accomplished in the absence of their application. Worse still, having gotten so used to playing games without having to think about how to do so, few if any of the people playing them are capable of articulating how they work. They can play them, but they can't explain how or why. They're like political robots irreversibly hardwired.

My primary aim in this book is to pull together the information gleaned from hundreds of interviews and probing discussions I've had with CEOs, senior managers, and high achievers in many fields during twenty years of business consulting, to shed light on how politics in organizations works. Moreover, I want to demonstrate how you can use political moves to gain admission to the inner circle of your organization--in short, to learn the secret handshake.

Politics and the Power Equation

While political strategies often operate in the service of wealth, they operate more often in the service of power--a resource for getting things done even in the face of resistance. The interesting thing about power is that it is often both a means to get ahead and the reward for getting there.

People who have valuable expertise, who control important resources or information, and those in positions of great authority not only can make things happen much more easily than those without power but also are in a position to increase their power and retain it. In order to win, the person engaging in politics need not always be the most powerful of those playing, but power does provide an advantage. It enables people to get things done even when others stand in opposition. Where one person has less formal power than others involved but accomplishes an objective nonetheless, it's likely that he or she used politics.

Power is at the heart of politics and may indeed be the heart of politics. Although power has a negative connotation for many people, it doesn't for those who've achieved the secret handshake. Without power they would not have made it. Without politics their sources of power would have been severely curtailed.

The Reciprocal Relationship Between Power and Politics

Even the most celebrated CEOs may never be far from losing power. A sharp drop in earnings, negative articles in Fortune, Forbes, or the Wall Street Journal, or the loss of key employees can bring them down a few pegs or even cost them their jobs. Unless they own the business outright, those executives whose power is supposedly unquestioned are wise not to believe it.

Bill Owens, president of a fast-growing video distribution company, discovered this when he hired an employee named Sam to take on some of the demands of the business. What Owens liked about his new right-hand man was his ability to handle things that clogged Owens's in-box. It appeared that Owens had found himself someone who could even run the show in his absence. When some of his people began to tell him that the perfect new hire had flaws, he assumed they were jealous. "I like to give my people room to fail, so I didn't pay much attention at first. Then I heard that Sam had been telling my people, 'Don't bother Bill with anything. Everything goes through me.' Some of my people warned me that I was giving him too much power. They claimed that he'd begun to say, 'I speak for Bill.' I thought it was a harmless exaggeration. After all, he was getting work off my desk."

It wasn't until a year had passed that Owens began to notice that what he called "the tone" of the company was changing for the worse. But he continued to tell himself that there was no way that such a competent, friendly, flattering person as Sam could be the problem. The increased workload seemed a more likely reason for employee unrest. "Sam stroked people, especially me. But I've since learned that he penalized anyone who tried to go directly to me. While he was flattering me, he was controlling them. He started telling my people, 'Bill's a great guy, but he forgets things.' Then 'Bill's a great guy, but he gets angry easily.' He told customers that he'd be doing something different soon, hoping to lure them away and start his own business. First he took the decision power, and then little by little he undermined my credibility with my employees and customers."

Eventually, Owens recognized Sam's intentions. During a six-hour wait for a tow truck when his car broke down on the way home from a ski trip, Owens realized that the warnings of his more loyal employees had been well founded. When he returned to work, he ousted Sam and spent the next few years undoing the damage.

Owens's experience demonstrates that even very experienced managers can overlook destructive politics. It also demonstrates that it's never too late to learn to recognize and respond to abuses of politics and power. Political savvy is a skill, not a trait. No one is precluded from acquiring it. Yes, there are some people to whom political acumen seems to come more easily than to others, just as some people learn languages or higher mathematics with greater ease than others do. Owens had to learn the hard way. But he's more alert now. The crucial fact here is that political savvy is an achievable skill for recognizing when politics is operating and for using those politics to your advantage. And it is a skill prerequisite to attaining the coveted secret handshake. So our next step is to define how to acquire it.

2

Political Savvy

Being political at work garners two benefits that often outweigh the costs in terms of effort and difficulty. First, politics helps advance careers. To the extent that a person is achievement-oriented and works in an organization where politics flourishes, he or she will have to use politics to get ahead.

"I've had to become more politically sensitive as the company has gotten larger," a senior manager of a rags-to-riches-in-no-time-flat computer software company told me. "The people around here are getting so rich that they're even beginning to think they're competent. To get around them, I've had to be less direct, more strategic, and less up-front about my intentions."

The second benefit of knowing how politics works is self-defense. When politically inhibited people use politics, it's often more to protect themselves from others than to advance their own careers. Once the politically inhibited person becomes politically adept, regardless of the reason for doing so, he or she often finds that politics leads to rewards.

The Political Continuum

Whether politics is used to advance careers or for self-protection, the first step is discovering where you are on the political continuum, from the politically active on one end of the scale to the politically inhibited on the other end. Not only are the politically active comfortable with politics, they truly enjoy maneuvering around the rules to get things done. The politically inhibited, at the other end of the continuum, dislike political movers and shakers. They may play along to get along, as the saying goes, but they prefer not to do so.

The extent to which your position on the political continuum helps or hurts your career depends on the organizational culture in which you work. If an extremely politically active person works in an organization where politics is limited or discouraged, he or she is likely to be both unhappy and unwelcome. Intensely politically inhibited people who work in highly political organizations, divisions, or even offices can become equally unhappy and overstressed unless they find a protective mentor or a quiet niche in which to work.

Marcy Bergren Pine, a successful Los Angeles attorney, was politically inhibited early in her career. Nevertheless, Pine, who is now a partner in the prestigious law firm of Morrison and Foerster LLP, forged a path to success. Upon her graduation from Loyola she joined a leading law firm that, she freely admits, "needed a female attorney and I was it." This is where her conversion from being politically inhibited to politically active began. She came to appreciate the connections she could make in a high-profile law firm. In fact, as she soon learned, few things get done without connections.

As she reinvented aspects of herself in order to attain the rank of partner, Pine embarked on a campaign of impression management, not in order to be well liked, but in order to become respected and well connected. She changed her voice from "the social one I learned to use while being groomed for years to be a wife, to a lower-pitched, attorney-like voice. I stopped smiling so much and developed a little more of an edge, especially with aggressive businessmen and attorneys." Pine became an astute observer of the political landscape where she worked, and adjusted her actions to fit expectations. She set her sights on becoming partner and then proceeded to learn and do what it would take.

While sitting at a law firm dinner as a fifth-year associate with former secretaries of state and the interior William Rogers and William Clark, Pine realized that she had indeed arrived. "The most interesting thing," she said of the occasion, "is that I truly felt that I belonged there." The secret handshake had become hers.

For many people, politics is not just the ticket into the game but the means by which you come to decide which game is to be played. There is a time-honored view of success that says you're successful when the number of idiots under you is larger than the number over you. Alison May, COO at Esprit and former CFO of Patagonia, explains it this way: "I like to be the one ultimately making the call. I would much rather make a stupid decision and take the consequences than have to implement a stupid decision made by someone else. Therefore, I think I come across as someone confident, focused, and determined, because I am willing to accept the risks and negative consequences of being in a position of power."

Présentation de l'éditeur

In The Secret Handshake, top corporate consultant and USC management professor emerita Kathleen Reardon explores and reveals the hidden rules on the ins and outs of corporate politics that you won't find outlined in any employee handbook.
Based on hundreds of candid interviews with executives at Fortune 500 companies who have achieved their goals and joined the inner circle, The Secret Handshake lays bare the unstated conventions that govern and shape corporate hierarchies. Taking readers inside boardrooms to learn firsthand how the top decision-makers view and assess the employees under them, it offers invaluable advice on such career-building tactics and skills as getting noticed, networking, persuading others, knowing which battles to fight, and mastering the art of the quid pro quo. For all those who aspire to be part of the decision-making body of their organization, The Secret Handshake is the ultimate intelligence report on whom to trust and whom to watch out for, how to manage the inevitable conflicts that will arise, and how to read between the corporate lines.  Shortly after its release, the hardcover edition of The Secret Handshake reached Number 2 of the most popular Nonfiction Bestsellers among Amazon.com customers.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 915 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 272 pages
  • Editeur : Crown Business; Édition : 1 (25 mai 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004ZZJ8MW
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°309.642 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book is just a "Must Have"!! No need to follow strictly what is written into it but this just opens up your mind.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5 47 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Where has this book been all my life? 31 juillet 2013
Par Jeffrey Deutsch - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Kathleen Kelley Reardon credits her parents for having jump-started her political skills. Now, those of us who didn't pick such a knowledgeable family to grow up in can read this book. Simply written and mainly jargon-free (with explanations for the jargon she does use), it's accessible to the educated layperson.

Dr. Reardon shows that while political skill is not *sufficient* for success, above a certain level it is generally *necessary*. She also shows that politics is more necessary in some places than in others -- which can save your sanity if you just thought all organizations were just plain political. (Not to mention, what the right political move is for any given situation varies very much between organizations, because among other things each group has its own culture. That's why you often need mentors wherever you are.)

In a nutshell, politics is about personal interaction. So Dr. Reardon gives you many different tools for understanding yourself, understanding others and managing how you deal with each person. For example, she repeatedly emphasizes relating your ideas to what the other person is specifically talking about.

She also includes help with gender communication -- important both for women on the rise and men who either currently deal with them or will do so. (Pretty much most women and most men, respectively!)

Dr. Reardon does what it takes to give those who need it a heads-up:

"As the politically astute know, speaking up before you know how others in a room think is naive. Many competent people fail to reach their potential because they can't get this simple fact through their heads. They convince themselves that their ideas aren't enthusiastically adopted because they're surrounded by imbeciles. They don't realize who the real imbecile is, politically speaking."

The beauty of Dr. Reardon's approach is that it neatly spans from overall objectives to strategy to tactics. For example, you learn (1) that strategic compliments can be a good idea to let everyone know that you don't hold grudges, (2) how to make them credible by weaving them into conversations and (3) how to make them more direct or subtle by saying, for example, either "Jim did a great job on the marketing, really boosting our sales" or "Our sales have skyrocketed thanks to Jim's great work on the marketing" (that is, by placing the person's name either at the beginning or in the middle or end of the compliment).

This is really Part I of a two-part series, Once you read and digested this book, check out It's All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren't Enough to take your political skills to the next level!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Worth to read it 14 mars 2014
Par StepanK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
If you work in office it make sense to read this book to be aware of what is going behind of scene. It is going in people physiology and way people manipulate each other. This is not Carnegie style book how to trick customer to sale something. It is more about how to behave properly in corporate environment and how to read properly word and non-word messages. I would recommend this book.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Didn't have much to offer. 2 février 2014
Par Mermalade - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
It's been years since I bought this book, but I remember it not having much to offer besides some tips on being assertive. Right now I'm reading 'It's Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace,' which I feel offers more concrete tips on workplace behavior that could gain one more credibility with one's superiors.
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Good Book. Nasty Subject 16 avril 2004
Par John Galt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I've noticed a wide variation of reviews, with most of the negative reviewers unable to separate the book and the subject. Office politics IS a distasteful activity...it wastes time and prevents many skilled workers from getting the rewards they deserve.
But--as the author herself notes, it is here to stay, so either arm yourself or be robbed.
I have read a number of office politics/OB books. What sets Reardon's book apart from the others is the following:
--Self-evaluation tests...of your workplace and your personal style. Knowing yourself is the first step to optomizing yourself.
--Relevant anecdotes...Reardon is an academic, and academic politics is really the second worst out there (the military is the worst). Furthermore, her experience as a consultant means she sees more politics in a year than most of us will see in a career.
--She covers all aspects of the game. When to fight, when to give in, how to make up, how to build bridges, how to recognize barriers.
This is a good overview of a nasty, brutish subject. Was it useful? Ask me in five years, when I'll have either made it or not.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good book 29 septembre 2014
Par Sheetal Jain - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I am very novice in handling political scenarios. This is a very good book and it has helped to understand various situations from a political perspective. After reading this book, I am able to articulate various situations that used to confuse me previously. I will recommend this book to everyone.
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