Organizational Politics .org
Developing Ethical Leadership for Corporate and Career Advancement
“Politics is how interests and influence play out in an institution.” - Benjamin Franklin
“Important changes that are shaping the nature of work in today's complex organizations demand that we become more sophisticated with respect to issues of leadership, power, and influence.”
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“Management is itself a political activity.”
ETHICS IS POWER© This finding came out of over a decade of studies and workshops across multiple industries around the world. Below is a bakers dozen of related 'ethics is power' components which act synergistically to significantly increase personal, team, and organization power and influence. *
When all these related and somewhat overlapping components combine synergistically, they increase the power and influence of individuals, teams, and organizations. Also, most people know that ethical behavior can empower their personal lives as well.
Ethics Is Power because for people who operate ethically their word is their bond. Time consuming and costly written agreements aren't needed.
Ethics Is Power because for people who operate ethically, there are no hidden agendas to worry about.
Ethics Is Power because you dont have to watch you back.
Ethics is Power because it fosters the development of one of the most crucial success elements for organizations - trust.
Ethics is Power because those known to operate ethically are preferred team members revered as even equal to and sometimes greater than technical competence.
Ethics is Power because operating ethically increases ones Rep or reputation in the firm, a key to the amount of informal influence and power they possess in the eyes of others.
Ethics is Power because ethical people are more resistant to influence attempts from political Sharks who use unethical means. The power of those acting unethically is thus dampened and the overall ethical influence is enhanced by comparison.
Ethics is Power because ethics means doing the right thing which often results in doing the right things for the task. Doing things right increases the chances of success and success usually increases power. A bit convoluted but true nonetheless.
Ethics is Power because bosses who believe their subordinates are ethical worry less that they will be negatively surprised by something wrong in their unit. They know the person will tell them if something is going wrong that could embarrass the boss in the organization. Often the result is a boss who is willing to delegate more responsibility to an ethical person, other factors being equal. This can give the ethical person more responsibility and influence.
Ethics is Power because ethical people are less likely to spend precious energy in internal turf battles, both personally and departmentally. This can free up an enormous amount of energy for task accomplishment which versus internal friction. It thus empowers teams and organizations to better serve customers and operate more efficiently. The result can be greater power and influence in the market place.
Ethics is Power because operating ethically can increase personal self esteem. Those with high self esteem often have high confidence which can make them more powerful and influential with others than those with low self esteem.
Ethics is Power because those higher in the organization are more likely to listen to someone they know to be ethical versus someone who they believe are trying to advance personal versus organizational agendas.
Ethics is Power because ethical environments are more likely to bring out peoples personal best instead of their personal worst - often the result of unethical environments. When ordinary people are functioning together at their personal best they are often capable of extraordinary performance thus increasing personal and organizational impact and power.* The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has requested the use of this baker's dozen for their own website.
Recent scandals resulting in the crash of corporations, the non accountability in the accounting industry - including one huge firm whose balance sheet and very existence was completely zeroed out - the lack of ethical direction from boards of directors, the missing ethical wall on Wall Street firms, and now the non insured behavior of the insurance industry have cost thousands of people their jobs and have depleted millions of peoplesí retirement funds whose 401kís held stock in all these firms and industries. How could every part of the supposed checks and balances in business have failed us all?
I believe the answer lies in part to greed, in part to fear, in part to just plain following along with the crowd, and in part because even the smartest people really dont get how operating ethically gives you power.
For most people, ethics is a should. Its like a Sunday School issue. Yes, we should behave this way. Itís a felt obligation. It is in almost every organizationís value statements. I learned long ago that an organizationís value statement is only a list. The true test of their in-practice value system is watching what happens when two values collide.
When profit and ethics are in conflict which wins out? Johnson & Johnson seemed to get this right years ago when Tylenol was tampered with leaving several people ill. They didnít listen to their lawyers who were trying to prevent lawsuits, they admitted there was a problem and pulled all the product off the shelves.
Another reason is that ethics is seen as a nice - but not a critical thing - to do. It looks good to say it, but it is harder to do it. Competition is fierce. To compete one has to cut costs which often leads to cutting corners. Political 'sharks' put self interest ahead of the organization's interests. For them, as long as its legal, it is ethical enough.
They often do not get the difference between operating within the law and operating ethically. As a result, ethics suffers and the firm hires better and more expensive lawyers which actually increases overall costs to the organization. I have been in more organizational discussions than I would like to admit where operating ethically was treated as a cost-benefit analysis problem.
If you raise your hand and say wait a minute, doing the right thing is not about cost versus benefits, it is about doing the right thing, you get looked at as a goody two shoes rather than as a serious business person.
A third reason is that while operating ethically can make one a good person in the eyes of others, goodness is not seen as a basis of power and influence. There is some evidence that this is even true among those who believe in operating ethically. Operating ethically is seen as a softball approach in the hardball world of business.
This brings up a related reason having to do with pride. There are some who wear their ethical standards defiantly as a badge of honor even if it means they are seen as less effective than others. Here, pride cometh before the fall or rather pride cometh before loss of effectiveness. I may not have had as much influence and impact as others, but I was ethical, so there.
These reasons and others blind us to what is obvious in hindsight: operating ethically is not just a Sunday School should, not just a nice thing to do when things arent so competitive, not just being legal, not just to be overruled subject to cost benefit analyses, not just a badge of honor for the less effective, but ethics is truly a way to increase power and influence for the individual and organization alike.
However, it is easy to fall into one or more of the misunderstandings of how ethics is power©. Overcoming the alternative views for the reasons to act ethically can be a difficult task. Then, knowing how to make the most of ethical behavior requires leadership that has the view of ethics as more than the right thing to do.
For people like the politically savvy, the power of ethics is obvious as it is for almost everyone who has experienced the effects of ethical behavior from an increased influence perspective. We have found most people intuitively understand this experience. Yet they often dont believe it is realistic in what appears to be cutthroat competitive business environments. Some others just dont know how to tap into it.
How to tap into the full potential of ethics is power is a key part of the political savvy aspect of leadership. The book, based on decades of studies, tries to act as a guide to make the most of ethics is power.
Our studies show that almost everyone has this basic ability, but few use it. Far too many ethical people refuse to enter and be proactive in their ability to influence others. They, all too often, are blocked by the strong negative stereotype of organizational politics as manipulative and involving self serving, unethical behavior. As a result they can do the right thing in their local office situation and gain some of the influence benefits of ethics is power. Yet they often lose out on its greater potential.
The political savvy do not believe in the negative stereotype of organization politics. They know organization politics is a two edged sword. It can be used ethically to cut through bureaucratic red tape and outdated processes, or it can be used negatively to cut down others innovative ideas or colleagues standing in the way of a desired promotion.
The Political Savvy view organization politics in a more balanced way. They see it as how human nature plays out in hierarchical settings. As Harry Truman said Politics is the art of getting things done and Churchill said, When you mix people and power, you get politics. Hierarchies are full of power. Organization politics is how power and interests play out in the organization. One thing is certain, they will play out.
The definition used in the book for political savvy is ethically building a critical mass of support for an idea you care about. The political savvy know how to accelerate the trust building process. They use their word as their bond often and keep it.
Working openly for the best interests of the organization, they don't have hidden agendas and can thus play above board. The political savvy use ethics is power to go beyond their local situation to influence up and outward across the organization. As a result, their credibility and ethical influence networks are much larger that those of most others.
The political savvy have a much greater chance of making the kind of impact and contribution they desire and to attain career success and satisfaction. The starting point for these outcomes is understanding that ethics is power.
Mastering organizational politics through Political Savvy is a proven ethical leadership approach that any organization and any individual can use to both influence positive change in an organization and achieve career success at the same time; even when negative organizational politics are severe.
The Political Savvy Advantage™ is grounded in the hard facts of todays business realities. Technical expertise is necessary but often not sufficient for success in business. Fortunately, you dont have to sell your soul to get ahead. In fact, despite those locked into a negative stereotype of organizational politics, mastering organizational politics is a crucial aspect of leadership. The sad fact is how so many intelligent people dont understand how acting ethically can actually increase their influence. It provides shark repellent to avoid becoming victimized by organizational politics. Political Savvy also works with top leadership levels to turn competitive turf wars into collaborative teamwork. It also provides a way to create a realistic productive culture in ever changing global competitiveness.
Negative organizational politics hampers creativity, productivity, fairness, motivation, teamwork, and a host other critical issues that almost everybody knows but is not allowed to speak about in the official hierarchy. Consequently, business politics is driven underground where people are left to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, most either decide to avoid politics or become a shark feeding off the success of others. Fortunately there is another way to respond. Become politically savvy.
We hope you can take a little time to discover for yourself the value of the Political Savvy Advantage™!
Want to learn more about how to advance your career without sacrificing values or ethics? Go to PoliticalSavvy.com
Dirty Politics vs. Political Savvy
"The major value I received from the Political Savvy Seminar was understanding that politically savvy individuals are not necessarily political, but rather ethical and take the opportunity to relationships across all departments within an organization. The true political savvy individual never compromises ethics to justify a means to an end."
Kelly Morrison, Internal Customer Support Manager
“I will be presenting a session [on professional ethics and believe] Joel DeLuca’s Ethics is Power baker’s dozen [principles] would be a perfect compliment to my presentation"
"I began using Political Savvy as a coaching tool several years ago and find it equally applicable to first time managers and senior executives."
Anita Jensen. Ph.D.,
"The principles from this book have been essential in helping our MBA students understand how to become impact players in their own organizations, no matter what level they are at."
Stewart Friedman, Ph.D., Founding Director of the
"Understanding the perceptions and reluctance many have to being Politically Savvy has been tremendously beneficial to myself and my team. Dr. DeLuca's insight regarding how facts that support a new idea are 'Necessary but not sufficient' speaks volumes to the work that my team does at NASA. There are a wealth of great ideas at NASA with supporting facts to justify them, but they are not sufficient to take them beyond the idea stage. It takes Political Savvy to understand how the idea supports the NASA mission."
Stephen A. Gonzalez, Project Manager
Political Savvy is the single best book I've read on the human side of leading change. Many of my clients have benefited from Joel's pragmatic approach to making change happen.
Robert Bruce Shaw, Ph.D., Managing Principle,
An excellent book for new and experienced managers alike. It takes readers beyond the negative stereotypes of organizational politics and shows them how to get involved in making changes in their organizations.
Stephen Stumpf, Ph.D.
The class sessions based upon the book were such a hit in our Management of Technology program for engineers that we have now incorporated it permanently into the curriculum. This is a must read for all practicing technologists, engineers and scientists.
Dwight L. Jaggard, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Graduate Education
“During the course of my career, I have worked in every size organization from the federal government to major corporations to small businesses - some of these with seemingly little politics and others as political as they come. No matter what size organization you are in, I would recommend that you put Political Savvy on your "must read" list. How often do workers, whether they are managers or worker bees, find themselves unable to move ahead because they are blocked by organization politics?” … ”This book can make leaders and winners of almost everyone. Political Savvy has many practical ideas and tools to let all of us move through those politically sensitive situations without making our colleagues feel we've stepped on their toes. You don't have to be a "shark" to get ahead and there are ways of even using "shark repellent." The book is a great tool for making the impact you want and gaining career success. It's a quick read though you may want to read it again and again. Don't skip the beginning chapters because they explore some of the basic terms you will find invaluable once you get to the proven techniques used by the politically savvy.”
Vicki Weiss - Amazon Review
"I consider you [Joel DeLuca] a seminal thinker in leadership and organizational development - I can't tell you how often and how much I refer to your 'organizational mapping' concept."
John Baldoni, Author
“A profound and informative look into the corporate mindset of today. An ethical approach to the spirit that dominates a workplace. For anyone interested in surviving in the corporate world this book is "A Must." It is a handbook for success in the often frustrating and chaotic world of the corporation. I am grateful for the valuable insight it has given me. I found it, not only enjoyable reading, but most valuable as well. My gratitude to Dr. Deluca for a very worthwhile and informative creation!”
William F. - Henderson, NC
“Political Savvy is a "must read" for anyone who has ever thought or been told that office "politics" are bad and to be avoided at all costs! Dr. Deluca provides wonderful insight into managing the "machs" and the bosses, that most of us in large organizations have encountered, who must win at all costs. By providing the rationality of the actors in organizational dramas, the book provides practical, easy-to-use methods that enable the reader to increase the probability of creating "win/win" situations that are ethical and satisfying. The book is a permanent tool on my office bookshelf and I have given a copy to one of my friends and another to one of my co-workers!”
Mike M. – Havertown, PA
“Mr. DeLuca has written a wonderfully insightful manual for success in the work place. A lightning fast and enjoyable read, this book will soften the battle scarred heart of even the most jaded and cynical Dilbert fans. The topic is the politics of the workplace, which is undoubtedly the leading cause of employee dissatisfaction everywhere. Joel DeLuca provides a wonderful case for recognizing human nature, and making a positive change in one's outlook to cherish the irrationality of the human organization that presently causes so much frustration and angst for the vast majority." ... "This book provides some practical relief from the pressure of organizational politics, as well as a toolkit to help the reader participate in the workings in a proactive and benevolent way. This book is the culmination of a very sincere scientific investigation, presented in a manner that is not overly academic."
Pat O'Reilly – New York City
“This book really impressed me, and I am in business 35 years in New York City. Politics is a necessary fact in business although many business people will deny this. Joel Deluca emphasizes this and takes the position that within the politics of organizations the ethical principles that drive individual behavior in large measure also drives the outcome. He very astutely identifies a range of personality types and then proceeds to illustrate how effective genuinely ethical business tactics are to advancing individual goals as well as those of the business.
“At last, a thoroughly researched, user-friendly, step-by-step guide to becoming a political savvy manager…This [book] tells executives what to do, starting tomorrow morning, to overcome these problems and make constructive change happen.” Our [MBA] students swear by it. So will you.”
"I’m a student at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Graduate School attending their 2005/2006 Executive Leadership course. Part of my growth and development is to read three books on leadership based on what my identified weaknesses. Needless to say I was very weak on Office Politics or Political Savvy strengths. I selected your book out of hundreds I could have read to help me with my political savvy and I must say I have learned a lot in last several weeks just from reading your book. In fact I’m not sure why Office Politics or Political Savvy courses are not required in college, this is the kind of stuff that is really needed if one is to advance in the work place and or get things accomplished. For too long, I believed that key decisions were made by intelligent rational individuals. I see now that may not be the case. I’m proud to say now after reading your book, I’ve gone from an “F” to at least “C”, it is my hope that in the next 12 months I can apply some of the concepts and strategies and apply them to my situation and become a more political savvy employee. Great book and thanks for educating me."
"[The Political Savvy book] ...gives me a practical way to map my environment. I was really becoming a cynic of beating my head against the system. I work in the government and there tends to be more bureaucracy to break through but I need to learn to survive in this environment because I’ve been here too long to branch out into non-government environment. I see your book as showing the big picture on getting your change ideas implemented. I have never been really good with people and felt reassured that only have strong interpersonal skills don’t help you in this process. I know I need to become better with people skills but this book gives me the focus I need to know who to try to influence."
Louis Reid, Project Lead, Quality Production & Logistics, US Navy
"I thought your talk on "Political Savvy" was extremely interesting and well done. In addition to being on the board of ASTD-SCC, I am a member of the Connecticut chapter of the National Speakers Association. That organization has exposed me to many fine speakers, and I think that you are among the best I've seen. Your enthusiasm, content knowledge, and facilitation technique made for an engaging evening. If any of my clients have a need for an executive coach or leadership training, I would recommend you."
Alice Stitelman, Ph.D.
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