10 Ways to Win at Office Politics


Lack of leadership invites backstabbing, gossip, sabotage, game-playing, and foot-dragging. But, don’t expect a savior on a white horse to rescue you after you’ve been stabbed in the back.


Getting even with the person who made you look bad makes you look bad. Respond in ways that you would brag to mom about.

You look fearful, weak, vindictive, angry, and defensive when you respond negatively to negative office politics.

You lose if you can’t deal with office politics.

Judge your motives and behaviors by two questions. Does this intention reflect who I want to be? And, am I acting in the best interests of my organization?

Winning at office politics:

  1. Don’t expect the boss to intervene. Most bosses let politics play out.
  2. Don’t get involved in office turmoil.
  3. Don’t share office gossip.
  4. Don’t complain about colleagues. Use the “in the room” rule. Imagine the person you are talking about is in the room.
  5. Don’t choose sides between two power people in the office. Make choices based on what’s best for your organization not a faction.
  6. Don’t advocate for your idea until others feel you understand theirs. Make people feel heard rather than argued with.
  7. Focus on delivering great results.
  8. Define the win.
  9. Help others win while you win.
  10. Build relationships across the organization. The person you’re counting on may be gone tomorrow.

What not who:

Understand the difference between making others look bad for personal advantage and building alliances that get things done. The difference is between “who” and “what.”

Bill Brandt, author of Compass, explains how good leadership helps eliminate unhealthy office politics. In his own words (1:27):

Leadership is pivotal to controlling office politics.

Leave a comment on Larry Putterman’s blog to win one of five free copies of Bill Brandt’s new book, Compass.

What strategies minimize the negative impact of office politics?