The Politics Of Promotion

The Politics Of Promotion - It's A Growth Thing

"Folks are like plants; we all lean toward the light" - Kris Carr

Spring is finally sneaking in and bringing warmer temperatures and even some bright sunshine. I can feel my garden slowing waking up and stretching after a very long cold nap. The snow and cold left me with a few surprises this week. Some of my coveted conifers have some pretty drastic winter burn and may not spring back with vigor or at all. The snow offered some protection, but not enough to prevent the unexpected.

 I refuse to pamper my plants with winter protection other than what Mother Nature offers. It would take me a solid month just to do so! Snow is an excellent insulator and as you can see from the middle picture below where the tree is half green and half brown, the snow did it's job. The upper part of my Atlas Cedar wasn't covered in snow and it was blind sided by the cold and wind. There wasn't enough protection ahead of time or during the long winter.  I just hope that in this case, the needles grow back which they sometimes do on this species. As for the other two conifers in the pics? I have little confidence seeing them recover. One they are brown, they are down!

My conifers didn't like the winter!
"Workplaces are highly political environments where decisions about who gets ahead, who gets more compensation, and who gets access to scarce resources are not based on performance alone. Our naive assumption that our performance will guarantee a successful career is a dangerous one" - Bonnie Marcus

Does this quote resonate with you?  Have you been burned or blindsided in your career like my winter burned conifers? Unexpectedly and out of the blue? I have and it hurts. Women in particular learn at a young age that if we work hard and do all the right "things" that we will come out on top and win. Hard work, dedication, focus, and brains just aren't enough to bring success. It's "playing the game", "schmoozing", "networking" that are the keys. If you have been frustrated and burned in your growth in your career you really need some guidance. I discovered a guide to help you form a new outlook on your growth. Bonnie Marcus's new book The Politics Of Promotion How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead is your protection for growing and not "getting burned"

Whether we like it or not, politics are everywhere. We can't escape them and if you can't beat them you will need to join them. For far too long women have been blindsided in the workplace by politics. We are left out of the boys club and feel that if we perform, our work will be noticed and rewarded. We lack confidence and won't toot our own horn. We fail to see signs of unrest because we have blinders on. We are left out of power decisions and meetings. In short we have a "political skills deficiency". You can work your tail off and do everything perfectly and it may not be enough. Others will pass you by and be promoted. Your career and salary will be stagnant. Whether you like it or not, you need to embrace politics to not only protect yourself from getting burned but to grow in your career and help your team to do so as well.

You need to develop "political will" which is a willingness to embrace politics and see office politics as "collaborative competition" Work place politics doesn't need to be a dirty job. We need to re frame politics and see it as a way to be subtle and behind the scenes in building strong relationships of trust and influence. Politics doesn't have to be self serving. It can be used to serve others. This notion is what really hooked me in Bonnie's book.

Bonnie effectively shows us how women can't afford to ignore the political landscape. She clearly lays out the consequences of remaining out of the ring. We need to jump in and play because no one can protect us better than ourselves. We need to let others know about our achievements. We need to be at the table with our male counterparts. That means being aware of what is going on around us and building relationships to further our growth. We also need to protect ourselves as we stumble through office politics. Bonnie introduces us to the 4 stages of being politically savvy. Each stage represents a level of political growth and awareness. To help you to find where you are, Bonnie offers a political skills assessment. Hint: you don't want to be a "Naive Nancy"!

Once you have an understanding of where you stand in the political landscape Bonnie reveals her Political Toolkit to help foster your political skills and maintain your place at the table.

Here's the Political Toolkit to bring with you to work every day:
  • Mirror: You need to do some honest self reflection to really find what your personal value proposition is. Toot your own horn and self promote. No one else will!
  • Magnifying Glass: Look closely at your work environment and really observe all of the dynamics and players. Look beyond your organization chart. Who has the power? Who really makes decisions? Watch the power, the rules, and monitor the culture.
  • Pass Go and Collect $200 Card: This is all about strategic networking and is your "card". It will position you to win as well as protect you. Networking is valuable for gathering information as well as building relationships. You never know when you will need to play your card.
  • The Get Out of Jail Free Card: This card is a sponsor. You really need to seek out a sponsor in your organization that will protect and promote you to others. The sponsor paves the way for opportunities. They help you find opportunities and are vested in you.
  • The GPS: The GPS is executive coaching. You need some help to find your way through landmines and to continue to strive for success. A coach is your partner and will give you continuous advice as you grow. They help with goal focus and keep you accountable. The coach is your key to remaining consistent and on track. You will be lost without one.

Bonnie's toolkit really help me to understand what I need to do to remain relevant and continue down my path to growth. It's not enough to achieve success though. You need to keep your tools sharp and utilize them regularly to stay relevant and grow. Once you reach your "top" it's very easy to become complacent and before you know it you may become an "outsider". That's when you really have to get those tools out and get busy.

I really enjoyed The Politics Of Promotion and highly recommend it to women at all stages of their career. Bonnie clearly shares the realities of what most of us have experienced such as losing a promotion, making a lower salary, stunted career growth. She easily  won me over to recognizing that I am stunting my own growth by ignoring office politics. Moreover, I am only opening myself up to getting "burned" by pretending that I don't need to play.

 Bonnie inspired me to jump into the ring of politics by detailing how becoming politically savvy can not only benefit me but others. Those who build strong relationships, build trust, are authentic and genuine leaders in this area can really have an impact and move others with them. I have always thought of office politics as a dirty game but this book changed all that.

I thoroughly enjoyed the real life "political" stories of successful women that The Politics Of Promotion shares with us. It's reassuring and uplifting to hear about some strong successful women who were fired or passed up for opportunities because they remained on the "outside' of office politics. Marcus effectively brings us on a journey that illustrates how "playing the game" can be an empowering and growing ride. Politics isn't just about you - it's about everyone. As a leader you can't afford to stand back and watch success pass you or your people by. Protect yourself and your teams by building relationships and using your toolkit every day!

The Politics of Promotion How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead needs to be in every woman's toolbox for success. In order to build you need tools. In order to grow you need support. Check out Bonnie Marcus's book at Amazon and don't get "burned"!