A couple weeks ago I wrote about power. Since then I have really been thinking about my sources of power and how I help or hinder the use of my power at work. There is a secondary aspect of power that needs to be considered; do not assume just because you are brilliant or nice people will do what you want.

"Politics" is an ugly word but a real one. You can use "wisdom" as a better substitute, but wisdom will tell you to pay attention to politics. Politics is the process of influencing group decisions. Power is the muscle that politics applies. When I want to exercise power at work I must consider not only what I am doing but what everyone else is doing. Everyone wants to have power but if we always exercise against each other we do not grow a healthy environment.

The other day a co-worker and I needed to come up with a schedule for our teams. He and I are team leads and he is pretty smart, so I knew whatever he came up with would be good and fair. Instead of exercising my power to direct my team activities I let my co-worker do the schedule. I asked my team to make sure he had the information he needed and to talk to my co-worker to get their parts of the schedule right. My co-worker increased his power by doing the schedule and I increased mine by supporting his efforts. My action was the right thing to do and also a good political move. My co-worker knows I recognize and support his power and my management knows that I will work with both teams to get the right things done.

You might think that putting my political plans in public is an unwise choice. It gives others an advantage over me. That is true, in one sense. However, my goal is to build people and teams, not tear them down. So while I act politically there is no embarrassing secret to what I am trying to do. The more people understand what my political goals are the better off we are. I think.

How about you? Have you given thoughts to your power sources? Have you looked at what your political goals are and how you can better reach them?