My Pi-Spective on Organizational Politics

Politics

(A pi-spective is where you write about something using only 314 words)

Politics in organizations gets a bad rap. An early meaning was along the lines of 'the science of good sense'. Few would argue about the importance of science and fewer still about the value of good sense. So putting them together is surely a good thing.

However, the politics that we see in organizations is far from the science of good sense. On one level, organizational politics is about networking behind the scenes to sell ideas, influence people or increase power. On another level, it's about mean spirited and spiteful behaviour.

The science of good sense, networking or spite: we probably see all three in the same political situation. Of the three, perhaps it's spite that is the most visible. Which is why it gets a bad rap. So if mean spirited and spiteful behaviour is bad politics, what is good politics and do we need it?

Well, we certainly need it because good politics must be pitted against bad if the organization is to fulfill its intent. Bad politics emerges from unfettered self-interest, whereas good politics is based on a regard for others. And not just the 'others' that form my in-group. It's the others that comprise the out-groups in my organization as well as the others that my organization sets out to serve.

So good politics in organizations is in some way oriented around altruism. If this is the case, do we tend to appoint and reward altruists? Hmm... probably not. Because the doctrine we choose for ourselves is very often a competitive one.

Altruism is the opposite of egoism and do we not tend to venerate the strong willed identity? What does an organization based on altruism look like? I'm not sure: I've not seen one.

Does this mean that good politics will be a minority movement in organizations. Possibly. Which means we altruists need to take our causes more seriously.

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