Intro to Organizational Politics


Perceptions of politics and political behaviors abound, and most are negative.  Many think to be politically savvy, they must be Machiavellian – powerful, manipulative, and willing to step on others to achieve their goals. Incidentally, Machiavelli in his iconic treatise, The Prince, is decidedly value neutral on how to use politics to get what you want.  The reality is that most people would prefer to brush their teeth with steel wool and rinse their mouths with battery acid than “play politics.”


Dr. Joel DeLuca, author of the book, Political Savvy, defines organizational politics as “how power and interests play out in the organization” (p. 42). He defines political savvy as “ethically building a critical mass of support for an idea you care about.” (p. 112).

Well, these definitions don’t sound so deleterious. 

Consider this…

What could you accomplish if you shifted your perspective on organizational politics and political savvy?  Organizational politics is simply a byplay of people building relationships with each other to achieve their goals.  So, what’s so harmful about this viewpoint? Nothing. 

What if you adopted parts of DeLuca’s political savvy definition – ethically building critical support about your idea?  What is wrong with this take?  Nothing.

When you open your mind to new perspectives, you create a space to generate options. You allow for new opportunities to work with others to achieve your interests.  Generating options is one of my Savvy Rules, but you’ll have to wait for its explanation in another post. 

The lesson in this blog is:

Open your mind to new perspectives.  Jettison the notions that all politics are disgusting and being savvy is immoral. These beliefs do not serve you or your organization.    

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