The 4 Types of Organizational Politics

by Michael Jarrett

Politics can become a dysfunctional force in organizations, but it can also be beneficial. To learn how to skillfully navigate organizational politics, managers first have to map the terrain. To do this, consider two questions: are you dealing with politics at the individual level or the enterprise level? And second, are you dealing with formal authority and structures or hidden, unspoken norms? Depending on the answers to these two questions, we end up with four different types of political terrain: “the weeds,” where personal influence and informal networks rule; “the rocks,” where power rests on individual interactions and formal sources of authority; the “high ground,” which combines formal authority with organizational systems; and “the woods,” or an organization’s implicit norms, hidden assumptions, and unspoken routines. Influential executives understand how to navigate all four terrains. (Read the full article)