Office politics, or organizational power politics, is a normal and routine part of organizational life. We all use power. It is an integral part of our lives. It permeates what we do and how we relate to others, and it dictates much of our success. Power is part of all of our relationships. It is a central element in leadership. Unfortunately many people have negative feelings about organizational politics. This attitude stifles full effectiveness on the job and limits our success.
Indeed, understanding power and how power is used, along with sensitivity to cultural values, provides the best means of understanding leadership and what leaders do. It helps us understand how leaders lead, what they do in exercising leadership, and why some people are leaders and other are not--even though they occupy the same or similar positions in our organizations and groups.
Power theory is also critical in helping us understand follower behavior. While a part of leader action, practical power use is also a critical and common feature of follower behavior. It is central to understanding relationships. Understanding power politics becomes a critical part of our quest for success in life regardless of the role played in the group hierarchy.
Unfortunately there has been little public discussion on this issue either in leadership terms or in general power use by either leaders or followers. This absence of discussion is especially true when we try to understand power in practical--applied--terms. Consequently, until recently, we have very little material available to help us understand how individuals use power and in what circumstances its use is most effective.
The decade of the eighties produced some important new insights about how