Author Godwin on Office Politics: 'You Can Learn This Skill'

Saturday, 19 Oct 2013 09:39 PM

By Todd Beamon and David A. Patten

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Anyone can succeed at office politics by "knowing when to fight, when not to fight, when to lead," author and political scientist Dr. Jack Godwin tells Newsmax TV.

"You can lead with honor, you can depoliticize situations," says Godwin, chief international officer at California State University in Sacramento. "Politics is about power — and any situation, any relationship, becomes politicized when power is introduced."

He is author of the new book, "The Office Politics Handbook: Winning the Game of Power and Politics at Work."

"Part of the book explains how not to politicize situations, how to get politics out of the workplace knowingly, so everybody can work toward the common goal of the organization, whatever kind of organization that is," Godwin says.

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His previous book was "Clintonomics: How Bill Clinton Reengineered the Reagan Revolution," published in 2009.

"There's politics in any kind of an organization," Godwin tells Newsmax. "Universities, private sector, and of course the government. The idea is to get good at it, to defend yourself, not to set traps or play dirty tricks on your coworkers, but know what's happening to you so you can make the organization a better place, one cubicle at a time."

He calls his book a primer on "politics for the rest of us, not presidents and prime ministers, but people who work for a living and don't like politics but have to deal with it. You might as well get good at it. It's a skill you can learn."

Perhaps the best way to succeed at office politics is to "read the field," Godwin says.

"Throw out the organizational chart. How do you know who your adversaries and enemies are in an organization? Ask yourself some questions: 'Who has veto power over your decision?' 'Who are you competing with for resources?'

"The idea is learning how to read the field, how to read the players, how to calculate power differential, how to calculate the costs of not acting. If you can do all that in a span of minutes —in a span of seconds, even — then I would say you've mastered office politics.

"You don't always want to politicize," he cautions, however. "You may not; you may choose not to act. You may choose to retreat. You may choose to convert an adversary into an ally.

"Politics is a skill you can learn — like any micro-level skill, like being a good negotiator or a good communicator," Godwin adds. "But being good at this particular skill begins with self-mastering, self-control, so you don't mistakenly politicize situations. You can learn this skill.

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