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  • Frans Lykke

How to play the political game at corporate organizations

This is the piece of writing that I have waited to post for the longest time of my life.

Ten years ago I was sitting on a flight with my newly wed wife. We were heading for the tirp of our life. I had taken a sabbatical leave from Google, and we were gonna spend one month at the Hawaiian Islands together. I pulled the old trick, telling the flight attendants that we were on our honeymoon (which indeed was the truth), and they upgraded us for business class free of charge. Sitting in this overwhelming soft and comfortable chair it struck me, how much I missed some guidance on how to navigate and behave in a corporate organization, taking my first job - at Google.

Coming from a Danish culture where you are taught how NOT to promote yourself (if interested, google the danish word "jantelov"), and suddenly finding myself in an American organization where the game was to put yourself on the line, and "out there". That was f****ng hard for me. I had to wake up.

So here are the learnings that I wished someone had told me before entering that arena:

Playing the political game at corporate organizations can be a delicate and complex task. It often involves navigating office dynamics, building relationships, and strategically positioning yourself to advance your career. Here are some tips to help you navigate the political landscape in corporate environments:

  1. Understand the Power Dynamics: Observe and analyze the power structures within your organization. Identify key decision-makers, influential individuals, and informal leaders. Understand their priorities, interests, and networks.

  2. Build Strong Relationships: Cultivate genuine relationships with colleagues across different departments and levels. Invest time in networking, participating in company events, and engaging in activities that allow you to connect with others on a personal level.

  3. Be Diplomatic and Neutral: Avoid taking sides in internal conflicts or office politics. Stay neutral, and maintain a professional and amicable relationship with everyone. Being seen as a fair and diplomatic individual can help you gain trust and respect from your peers and superiors.

  4. Demonstrate Reliability and Competence: Focus on delivering high-quality work consistently. Be reliable, meet deadlines, and exceed expectations whenever possible. Building a reputation for competence and dependability can help you gain allies and support within the organization.

  5. Effective Communication Skills: Develop strong communication skills, both verbal and written. Be articulate, persuasive, and assertive when necessary. Tailor your communication style to different audiences, and always ensure that your messages are clear and concise.

  6. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on the latest industry trends, market developments, and company news. Being well-informed allows you to contribute valuable insights during discussions and meetings, positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and valuable asset to the organization.

  7. Advocate for Yourself: Take credit for your accomplishments and contributions, but do so in a humble and tactful manner. Make your achievements visible to your superiors, and highlight the value you bring to the organization. This is a key competence that I wished I had learned earlier in my life.

  8. Seek a Mentor: Identify a senior colleague or mentor who can provide guidance and support. A mentor can offer valuable advice, help you navigate challenging situations, and provide insights into the corporate culture and politics.

  9. Stay Professional: Maintain a professional demeanor at all times, even in challenging situations. Avoid engaging in office gossip or spreading rumors. Focus on building a positive reputation based on integrity and professionalism.

  10. Embrace Change and Adaptability: Corporate environments can be dynamic and constantly evolving. Embrace change, be adaptable, and demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow within the organization.

Someday I dream of writing a book on this topic. What are you own experiences? Please comment below.



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