Survival of the Savvy | Rick Brandon

Summary of: Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success
By: Rick Brandon


In ‘Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success’ by Rick Brandon, the reader is introduced to the concept of ethical organizational politics and how it can be used positively to influence corporate environments. The book provides strategies to empower values-driven employees with high-integrity political tactics for influencing colleagues and bosses while maintaining their ethics. The content focuses on enhancing your understanding of different political styles, honing your political skills, and balancing the power of ideas and positions in the workplace. The ultimate goal is to create positive change and foster a values-oriented corporate culture.

The Importance of Political Savviness in Business

In business, being politically savvy is crucial for career advancement and success. Organizational politics is not inherently negative, and values-driven employees can use integrity in their political tactics to achieve their goals. Savvy leaders blend ethics, competence, and political skill to do what’s best for their organization. However, engaging in politics can be good or bad depending on the objective and integrity of the influence efforts. Conscientious leaders must install a code of conduct and ethics training to promote ethical politics. Without political skills, even ethical employees may not advance or get paid as deserved. In a political environment, Machiavellian colleagues lacking ethics can sabotage naively ethical co-workers. Being a sharp, capable person who works hard is not enough to build a successful career; political skills are necessary for achieving objectives and influencing bosses and colleagues.

Mastering the Political Landscape

Learn how to optimize your impact by understanding your political style and those of your colleagues.

If you’re striving to optimize your impact on your company, it’s essential to understand your political style as well as those of your colleagues. This knowledge is just like using the right key to open a lock, as adjusting your actions and attitudes according to your political style can boost your influence.

According to the book, “Naïveté and lack of organizational savvy can threaten anyone’s influence, organizational impact, career growth, team credibility, and company results,” so it’s crucial to identify the two dominant political styles: the “power of ideas” style used by less-political people (LP) and the “power of a person” style used by those who are more political (MP).

It’s important to note that neither style is necessarily good or bad as each one embodies strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of your style, you should still aim to optimize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and avoid extremes.

For less-political people, the six dimensions are:
– “Substance power” where power equates to facts, logic, analysis, intuition, creativity, and innovation
– “Focus on feedback and learning” with an open mind for expanding knowledge
– “Do the right thing” by evaluating actions based on integrity and whether they benefit the company
– “More open agenda” by being honest without being confrontational
– “Meritocracy-based decisions” by valuing ideas based on their individual worth
– “Results and ideas speak for themselves” with a reluctance towards self-promotion

For more political people, the six dimensions are:
– “Position power” whereby power is presumed to derive from their hierarchy placement
– “Focus on image and perception” by considering how they come across to others when presenting ideas
– “Do what works” by doing whatever it takes to achieve objectives
– “More private agendas” with a thoughtful approach towards sharing ideas
– “Relationship-based decisions” through building relationships or potential ones
– “Self-promotion” by highlighting accomplishments.

Regardless of your position, whether you’re a CEO, team leader, supervisor, or mid-level manager, knowing your political style can help influence your group’s political climate. By understanding both styles, you can learn to adjust your approach to optimize your impact, which is essential for career growth, team credibility, and overall company results.

Balancing politics in the workplace

The book warns against being either overly political (OP) or under political (UP) in the workplace. It explains the risks and liabilities of both extremes and advises blending the best aspects of both LP and MP styles. It also emphasizes the importance of packaging ideas to meet others’ needs and priorities. Under-political people face corporate dangers such as weak networks, lack of understanding, and failure to recognize opportunities. Overly political people can become obsessed with power which leads to lasting mistrust among colleagues. The book advises against imperiling values and morality in the pursuit of power. It suggests broadcasting one’s own buzz rather than being a victim of a negative reputation.

Maximize Your Political Strengths

Learn how to optimize your political strengths and minimize weaknesses by developing a powerful network, promoting positive buzz, and avoiding negative office politics. Use self-talk, observe power dynamics, and use hard facts to validate your suspicions. Always hold the moral high ground, be visible and create a memorable elevator speech to sell yourself with flair. With this guide, you can develop a power base of influential executives who speak well of you and your expertise, and sniff out hidden agendas to carefully choose your political battles.

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