If you choose to play in corporate politics, you need to know the art of the game. There are endless books on the subject, and mentors to follow in business. Over the years, leaders of organizations have given me some tricks of the trade for those who want to be power players in business.
Here are five obscure and subtle, but nonetheless powerful lessons of the game when trying to position you in a position of power. I’ve tried them all out, and they work. The greatest risk— if you are gutsy enough to try them, is making sure your ethics can handle it, and your behavior is strong enough to have affect, but subtle enough to have no one notice what you’re up to.
Walk in First
Growing up, I was taught that it is a polite gentleman that holds a door open for others—thus following both women and men into a room. “Bad form!” says a powerful and potent CEO who’s nickname is “The Empress.” She informed me that holding a door open for someone else demonstrates subjugation, and gives power to the other person. I guess we can either be polite, or powerful in this situation.
Make Your Presence Known
“You have to stop sneaking into the room if you want to be taken seriously,” says a form client of mine (and power player himself). “Make some noise whenever you enter a room—be boisterous as you say hello to everyone as if you were a politician on a rope line. Dropping your papers down loudly on the table is also a good trick. If your office has old wooden floors, walk across them as if you’re stomping your feet—making noise at every step.” It seems a good tactic to command attention is to raise a ruckus.
Take the Power Seat
“When entering a conference room, ALWAYS take the seat at the head of the table,” I was once counseled by a high-ranking executive. “I find that most ‘weaker’ people save the seat at the head of the table for the most senior person. It doesn’t matter if you are a junior or senior guy, you’ll be noticed as a ‘player’ if you snag the leader’s seat.”
Never Arrive Early
“Arriving late to a meeting suggests a disregard for others that is an effective power play,” a sales executive once told me. “Showing up early shows weakness and a sense that you have nothing better to do than sit and wait.”
Know When To Stop Talking
A good power player doesn’t talk too much. Rambling on in detail is a sure sign of someone not in control of their thoughts—and not in power. In corporate politics, you should always walk off on a high-note—“most commonly once you’ve taken credit for something.” Says one of my powerful yet douchy friends.
Now that I’ve given you this powerful ammunition to playing in corporate politics, be careful out there. Make sure you watch your back, and examine your soul before putting these tools into your arsenal.