Most people try to avoid office politics at all costs, seeing them as unpleasant, unfair, unethical and an unnecessary distraction from their ‘real work’. “If you don’t do politics, politics will do you” will open your eyes to the fundamentals that no-one ever teaches you including what office politics actually are and how being politically intelligent is the single biggest determinant of your personal and professional success.
Drawing on my 20 year experience as an executive together with insights from some of the leading business thinkers of our time, this personal, practical and frank book will show you that it’s possible to play politics without sacrificing your principles and teach you how to use politics to advance your career, benefit your team and build the organisation you are part of.
“It is commonly thought that you can either play the political game or be a decent person, but not both. But is that true? Drawing on the best research and her own diverse experience Niven Postma will help you to understand why office politics are inevitable and how you can navigate office politics in order to be both useful and successful. Read this if you stick your nose up at politics but feel frustrated as you watch others use politics to their benefit.” Liz Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of Multipliers and Rookie Smarts
“This is a very practical and well written guide on all things office politics! What we typically refer to as ‘politics’ is properly termed ‘bad politics’, given the connotations of negative, insidious, self-serving and destructive behaviors with the book providing useful suggestions on how one can navigate that terrain. Interestingly, the book also develops the notion of ‘good politics’ and how we should leverage that for good and to further any organisation’s objectives. It also has plenty (and, sometimes, funny!) anecdotes that are totally relatable . Learn how to distinguish the politics and respond accordingly – to defuse or amplify. This is a recommended and empowering read for anyone working with people!” Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi, CEO: African Leadership Institute
“This wonderful piece of work focuses necessary attention on the frequently misunderstood world of office politics. The author/Niven lends her vast life and work experience to this crucial topic, and with vulnerability and transparency explores the rather murky world, we navigate as individuals and groups in organisations. The relevant models and theories cited enable the reader to create meaning in their own context. These, in addition to the real-life scenarios, create hooks from which to hang new learnings and stimulate new ways of thinking and being in our own workplaces and communities. Thanks for an informative, practical and well-written guide.”
Linda Buckley, Director: Executive Education, Henley Business School, South Africa
“One of the messages I get from this very apt and entertaining book, is “Think twice, speak once, not the other way around”. Another way of putting it, is whether at home or at work, observing and reflecting carefully is important and then clearly verbalizing your thoughts equally so. No one can be expected to read your thoughts. Furthermore, often it is not what you say, but how you say it, and to whom, in which particular circumstances. I would love names to be attached to some of Niven’s experiences. Would make for fascinating reading! This is recommended reading for all.”
Russell Loubser, Retired CEO of the JSE, Director of Companies
“Empowering, enlightening and relevant.. At a point in our lives we all experience the impact of what we see as inexplicable behaviours and decisions made in the name of what is vaguely explained away as ‘politics’. Especially in our work lives. Niven has in her signature talk style, cut to the heart of this mysterious matter. She has made the unspoken spoken. Laid the hidden and concealed quite bare. That elusive and ghost like character that has haunted the hallways of our corporate dead ends and befuddling project failures has been unmasked, named, deconstructed and now stands clearly illumined for anyone willing to conquer. The reader will feel inducted into the powerful and secret societies’ they always suspected existed but could just never get into. Anyone trying to achieve big goals and success in an organizational setting stands to benefit from this read. The career trajectory that many still long for but had seemed more and more unlikely is suddenly a possibility again by applying the concrete approaches shared in this book. I personally felt enlightened, empowered and in some cases even vindicated by the stories and insights on politics and their potential impacts at work.”
Lolly Gwabavu, Coach and Leadership Development Specialist
“I attended Niven’s workshop when I was reeling from a career disaster. That one day gave me valuable insights into what had caused the disaster, my role in the disaster, and the changes I needed to make to safeguard myself going forward. The ‘aha’ moments I had that day are all contained in these valuable pages. Reading them now, I’m so grateful for Niven’s wisdom and guidance. And I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made since then. Read this book!”
Jenefer Morgan (CA)SA, MBA, Head: People, Boost & Co, United Kingdom
"Politics is prevalent in all organisations. I have yet to find an organisation, large or small, that is devoid of political wrangling. You can try to ignore it, yet it will slowly but surely frustrate and distract you and inevitably derail your career. Or you can strive to understand it to be proactive in dealing with it in productive ways. If you want to understand organisational politics, this is an excellent guide. It is full of practical insight, useful frameworks, and relevant tools. This short, sharp, and valuable book will give you the perspective you need to understand and navigate the myriad of complex relationships you will invariably confront in any organisation; it will change your perspective and empower you to be way more productive in an organisational setting."
Dr Greg Fisher, Editor In Chief, “Business Horizons,” Professor of Entrepreneurship at Kelley School of Business, Indiana, United States
“This is a very practical and well written guide on all things office politics! What we typically refer to as ‘politics’ is properly termed ‘bad politics’, given the connotations of negative, insidious, self-serving and destructive behaviors with the book providing useful suggestions on how one can navigate that terrain. Interestingly, the book also develops the notion of ‘good politics’ and how we should leverage that for good and to further any organisation’s objectives. It also has plenty (and, sometimes, funny!) anecdotes that are totally relatable . Learn how to distinguish the politics and respond accordingly - to defuse or ampliify. This is a recommended and empowering read for anyone working with people!”
Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi, CEO African Leadership Institute
“Niven has masterfully captured the essence of organisational politics, and how to manage it successfully – with dignity and poise. This is a must-read for any leader – understanding and perfecting these unspoken “rules of the game” will help you navigate the cross-currents that occur when working within any organisational structure. Thank you, Niven, for distilling many years of experience, failures and successes and turning them into a practical guide.”
Deon Greyling, Senior Vice President, BTS Middle East
“If you are a leader who is of the opinion that you don't do politics, then this book is a must read. It poses strong challenges and quiet invitations at the same time. Challenges to understand the playing field of modern business and ourselves and others in that arena. Exciting invitations of how to play the best game, to be a source of positive energy and influence others in order to achieve amazing business and personal results. Niven has combined the rigour of researching practical, easy to apply models with the vulnerability of personal anecdotes in an easy to read, very useful guide to achieving success as a leader in and out of the executive suite.”
Desray Shuck, Head: Leadership Development, Anglo American
"For many professionals, networking and office politics are “Four Letter Words” - hissed under one’s breath. Worse, insecurity and resentment around these topics means capable people miss out on opportunities for which they're well positioned. Niven brings her breadth of experience – multi-discipline, multi-national, multi-cultural – to offer an integrated approach to office politics. She demystifies the “why” and the “how” so professionals can have more influence, get more done and experience more satisfaction at work – and arguably outside work, too. Reading this book was like the best seminar with Niven - fun, thought-provoking and highly action-oriented. I highly recommend it."
Greg Durst, Managing Director, Corporate Development & Events, Institutional Limited Partners Association, Canada
“We hear of corporate politics every day, even though we hate the mention of the word. Yet our lives are surrounded by politics, very few of us know how to authentically navigate through office politics effectively and ethically, not knowing what to do about it. Niven Postma speaks simply, genuinely and yet cleverly on the topic. As a corporate professional who prides himself on the value of hard work and meritocracy I badly needed to hear Niven’s practical insights and wisdom to win through the corporate landscape. I read this book during lockdown at my home in Johannesburg, South Africa and felt as though I am in a front row seat in her lecture or workshop having an experience on how I can be greater at work by making small changes for big results. It’s a definitive guide to working politically smarter!”
Ben Matai, Vice-President, HR and Corporate Affairs, Sasol Mining