Emerging Leaders and Office Politics


By Dr. Sylvia Lafair

When I was in the emerging leader category I thought that political games of “GOTCHA” were only played in Washington D.C.

And then I had my first job.

Was I ever wrong!

Office politics and power games were all over the place. It was so disheartening I had to make a decision to learn the rules or find a small island and eat coconuts and berries the rest of my life.

I must admit, I love coconuts and blueberries and I also must admit I love the adrenaline of playing the game of winner takes all. However, now that I am an executive coach and a seasoned businesswoman, I also know the havoc that those deadly games cause at work.

Here is what I have found that I hope is useful to all who get up in the morning and go to work somewhere around the world.

That the games at work can be tamed. That the games at work once tamed can lead to more positive work relationships. That with once tamed and more positive relationships, productivity soars.

I know that what we learned in our original organization, the family, is what we bring to our present organization at work. That when stress hits the hot button we all, yes, all of us, revert to
behavior patterns we learned when we were five or seven or twelve for security and survival.

I used to play the gotcha game with my colleagues so I would feel better about myself. It does not, in retrospect, make a ton of difference to anyone else.

That was an eye-opener. I was put on the back burner as an emerging leader because I created too much conflict and noise. It was not until I figured out that I had to bridge my own confidence gap by learning new rules, the rules of collaboration and cooperation. I started to rise up by getting some good leadership development coaching.

Now, I bring what I have learned to businesses.  Sometimes I smile, other times I sigh at the waste of time in my past playing gotcha with such relish. The book ‘Don’t Bring It to Work’ outlines best practices and ways to find out why we need to do all the one-up-man-ship nonsense and ways to grow beyond that.

Maybe we can even get the folks in Washington to stop playing long enough to get something done!