Avoiding Business Politics Can Derail Career Success

Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success

Authors: Rick Brandon Ph.D. and Marty Seldman Ph.D.

Survival of the Savvy was on my bookshelf about a month before I had the privilege of meeting the author, Rick Brandon, at a leadership conference in San Francisco where we both were speaking. Our talks were at different times so I was able to attend Rick’s presentation.

That was when I realized how important this book could be to all the women I work with who are sometimes underestimated, overlooked, and denied proper recognition for their accomplishments because they abhor and avoid anything associated with the word politics. If this sounds like you, you are not alone.

Survival of the fittest! That is what it feels like in the work world sometimes. I know how tough it can be. I have worked in business since the mid 1980’s where I have witnessed political games of all sorts – power struggles, back biting, turf wars, and blind ambition.

Reading the book you will learn that the stereotypical image of the term ‘political’, that usually is thought of as overly political and at time unethical behaviors are definitely not what the authors are recommending.

Survival of the Savvy describes the political style continuum that ranges from the less political type who believe hard work, facts, and good ideas are enough to the overly political individuals driven by self-interest.

Brandon and Seldman suggest a high integrity middle ground (aka ethical and more palatable,) approach to politics that even the most politically averse can employ. They call it the green light/safe travel zone. This vital balance is neither too political nor politically naive.

Power and politics are not dirty words. You can promote yourself with integrity. These are important messages in the book for all women in business and especially for those in the traditionally less political career tracks who want to advance to leadership positions – women in science, R&D, Information Technology, engineering, and other technical fields.

The authors successfully help readers, who hate the thought of workplace politics, reframe how they think about power and politics. They offer useful and practical advice even for the political novice.

The further you advance, the more vulnerable you are if you remain politically naive. The authors claim in their experience ethical political skills are a leadership competency.

If you want to get ahead, but are so opposed to the concept of politics and to any of the ideas in the book the day will come when your subject matter and expert technical status are no longer good enough for you to advance. Your career will plateau. Shunning even high integrity, ethical politics can mean you are destined to succeed only in a job in the ranks below management and leadership. If you do progress into management you are at risk to derail in all but the most non-political cultures.

Reading and applying the information in the book is not easy but worthwhile for all who want to land the top jobs and earn the income they deserve. If you feel frustrated or have plateaued in your career advancement, it may be a political blind spot and reading this book can help.

Although not a book written specifically for women, the authors offer ‘political’ success strategies especially relevant for women.