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One of the lessons Reardon teaches in It's All Politics is how to develop an early warning system for detecting when something in the environment just isn't right. Her advice includes numerous tips on listening to gut instincts and ways to avoid pushing valuable impressions aside.
Chimps and Coalitions
While citing a study of chimpanzees and the work of primatologist Franz de Waal, Reardon explores how human deception can be detected by pointing out how the chimps de Waal studied never make uncalculated moves. She explains that by constantly keeping track of each other and always thinking about the next social step, chimpanzees "form coalitions and work together to assess their surroundings and deal with potential enemies."
Reardon shows readers how they can improve their political skills by listening to that nagging feeling that something is not quite right and making sense of various inputs. Offering brief scripts that describe dysfunctional communication patterns, she breaks down unproductive interactions to describe how communication could have been improved and where language could have been inserted into the conversation to make a point stronger.
Throughout It's All Politics, Reardon provides a number of highlighted boxes that present specific words of advice that sum up the lesson discussed in a section. "Political Advantage #1," for example, is, "Political intuition is not uncanny clairvoyance but rather uncanny attentiveness to what others say and how they act." She explains that by developing a political early warning system and keeping political antennae on high alert, people can see political disasters approaching a mile away. Through lessons such as these, Reardon aims to make readers more politically skilled and able to advance their career goals.
Being secure in a job requires being able to manage how you and your ideas are treated by others. The politically astute, Reardon writes, "stay in touch with what is going on around them and communicate with others in ways that align their goals with those in power or soon to be in power." By having an uncanny sense of their surroundings, effective politicians notice every miniscule nonverbal move, change in the direction of talk, and momentary emotional expression. By truly seeing peripheral actions and using that information to determine a response, the savvy politician can see problems that lie ahead and develop early warning systems that tell him or her when and where to use the valuable impressions he or she receives.
The Skilled Politician
The skilled politician is also aware of the situations that are the most important concerns, and has many responses in store to handle them correctly. By taking in what others overlook or discard, Reardon explains, those who know how to play the political game know the right questions to ask and the best ways to avoid falling into predictable routines.
"The process by which people are promoted, demoted, edged out, and selected for prize project teams and plum assignments is usually repetitive," Reardon writes. To help readers become more intuitive by mastering organizational pattern recognition, she offers them the questions they should ask themselves about their work environments. Are there others who can help me get promoted? When and how should I advance the idea of my promotion? Whose toes should I avoid stepping on? By asking these questions, one can gain the wisdom of experience required to move up.
Reardon also explains the differences between positive politics and harmful political actions: virtues. She writes that many companies have found ways to reward positive politics by helping people find their own political compasses while improving the bottom line.
Why We Like This Book
By inserting advice on virtues and ethics into the discussion of workplace politics, Reardon not only shows people how to get ahead by using the practiced skills of master politicians, but she also demonstrates the proper use of those skills to maintain high professional standards. Her clear descriptions of the issues and answers surrounding politics make her insights understandable and actionable. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
“This is Reardon’s most important book and a terrific read. She makes a brilliant case for a new and important force in the workplace, political intelligence. Understanding this force is vital for success.”
—Warren Bennis, distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and Author of On Becoming a Leader
Acclaim for Kathleen Kelley Reardon’s The Secret Handshake
“The Secret Handshake is like a crash course in Business Psychology 101 . . . Reardon writes crisply and to the point . . . You owe it to yourself to read her book.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted March 16, 2009
This practical book discusses one of the sad realities of business: Often, competent people do not get promoted, because they lack political intelligence. In their place, less capable people ascend into executive suites simply because they have developed business intelligence, and know how to use the politics that exist inside any organization. That's why many people rightfully think that "who you know, not what you know" determines career success. Kathleen Kelley Reardon can put you in the right place at the right time and in the right vice president's office by helping you become more politically savvy. getAbstract highly recommends this very readable book to those who want to advance, especially politically innocent people entering the business world.
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Posted May 10, 2011
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