We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I can't say I agree with the conclusions drawn by this Harvard Business Review article. If office politics are only about influence, the premise is that being political is actually beneficial.
I see a significant difference between being social and being political.
"The truth is that just being a member of an organization is a political act. And in fact, we must influence people at work all the time. It’s how we get things done. And to influence, we must have power, the real currency in workplaces. "
Is that really true? Did I join a fraternity to be political and gain power and influence? Did my joining mean there were political implications? As a member of my church, is membership political? And to influence, must we have power? I have always been taught that influence is not power, but access to, and ability to, inform and shift power.
I can see how these memberships can morph into political alliances or positions, but they are not inherently political, we don't necessarily join social groups for political reasons (though I know plenty of people who joined country clubs for political reasons).
We have too many sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists over-analyzing behaviors and assigning them improper value. I completely understand the value and benefit of good work socialization. We need to maintain relationships and behaviors to not just garner influence, but to just to get jobs done effectively. But the maintenance isn't in itself political, most often (certainly in my case) it's genuine, sincere and geared toward generating productive and useful outcomes.
My perspective is that it becomes political when it is self-serving or guided by less than sincere or honest motives. When subterfuge, dissemination of false or bad information, and exclusion take place it becomes political. The author tries to differentiate these behaviors as Machiavellian, anathema to proper behavior in an office. Certainly they are - but they are far too common, particularly in large organizations, simply because people can get away with it. By lumping good social action in with political behavior, this author does employees a disservice.
Well, in truth, all of those sociologist, psychologists, and anthropologists must conduct studies and write opinions (disguised as conclusions) else they would have no function. That does not mean that we have to pay attention to any of them.
I think you've seen through the deal, here. If you work in that sort of an office - I'm guessing that at Harvard they may not be aware there are other kinds - this is valuable advice. But not all of us live there, nor want to. The comparison with other groupings was telling.
Assistant Village Idiot