Good campaigners, in business as in politics, rely on smarts, guts, and instincts. A good staff doesn't hurt either. Fast Company has assembled a collection of resources - a newsletter, a few books, a couple of Web sites - to help you wage a winning campaign inside your company.
FC Recommends: Kennedy's Career Strategist Career consultant Marilyn Moats Kennedy has published her newsletter for 12 years. She packs each issue with provocative ideas and good advice on getting promoted, finding the right job, and, yes, winning at office politics.
Soundbite: "Don't be surprised if political participation becomes a virtue in a new context. Political activity - and all the gossip and maneuvering that goes with it - is evidence that employees care about what the company and their coworkers are doing."
Coordinates: $65 for one year (ten issues). Inquire by phone (800-728-1709) or email email@example.com.
FC Recommends: Cubicle Warfare: Self-Defense Strategies for Today's Hypercompetitive Workplace By Blaine Pardoe. A dark, funny, nitty-gritty manual for moving ahead and protecting your backside.
Soundbite: "Authority in most companies comes in two flavors. The first is legitimate authority:... powers formally vested in an individual because of position. An example:...the manager who can sign off on purchase orders of $10,000 or less....The other flavor...is real authority.... This is not spelled out anywhere in the employee handbook, but is the informal and often covert way that most companies actually function."
Coordinates: $16. Prima Publishing, 1997.
FC Recommends The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level By Noel M. Tichy with Eli Cohen. The upside of office politics. Lessons in grassroots leadership from blue-chip companies. Insightful, inspiring, instructive.
Soundbite: "Leaders who create and tell engaging human stories are better communicators than those who can't or don't... The ability to create and tell certain kinds of dramatic stories is ... an essential prerequisite to being a first-class winning leader."
Coordinates: $26. HarperBusiness, 1997.
FC Recommends Political Savvy: Systematic Approaches to Leadership Behind the Scenes By Joel M. DeLuca. A step-by-step manual for exercising influence beyond your authority.
Soundbite: "When managers are asked if they want to manipulate the organization, most say no. When they are asked if they want to influence the organization, most say yes.... Savvy individuals don't inherently equate influence with manipulation. ...The inability to differentiate types of influence is exactly what keeps so many people from becoming active in the political arena."
Coordinates: $32.50. LRP Publications, 1992 (out of print).
FC Recommends Hard@Work In "The Watercooler," visitors swap stories from the front lines. "The Rockpile" uses case studies to explore office politics, love at work, salary disputes, and other all-too-human issues.
Soundbite: "If everyone is . . . advancing their own careers instead of advancing the company then [maybe] one or two will advance and earn titles and compensation. But the company will no longer get to the top."
FC Recommends AboutWork This virtual community, created by Web innovator iVillage, is packed with work-related chat rooms and discussion groups. Swap stories and solicit advice on getting ahead, getting a life, starting a business, and dealing with office politics.
Soundbite: Here's Barbara Reinhold, director of career development at Smith College: "Telling the truth often gets you into trouble unless you develop spectacular diplomatic abilities.... Pay more attention ... to 'office politics.' [Ninety percent] of mismatches between individuals and their jobs come from clashes of personal style."
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.