Alas, we’ve reached the last blog in our series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering The Politics of the Business Inner Circle by Dr. Kathleen Reardon. In last week’s post, we discussed how to become a politically astute negotiator in the workplace. Being able to engage successfully in negotiation tactics will get you one step closer to the business inner circle.
Dr. Reardon expresses concern in the last section of her book that she feels as though many aspects of her book could be considered manipulative. Negotiation, trying to persuade others…are these really manipulative tactics? She explains, however, that in her less defensive moments, she realizes this is not the case. She states very poignantly that although we’d all like to think we’ve gotten where we are based on technical skills alone, that’s not typically how it happens. This is where a person’s interpersonal skills – including negotiation skills – comes into play. Think about it: for most people, achieving the secret handshake involves surpassing others who are after it as well. So, how do you surpass them if your technical skills are similar?
Dr. Reardon continues on in her quest to defend some of the topics covered in her book. She brings up politics next, and points out that politics has in face been “misunderstood,” especially in the business world. She points out that often, the term “politics” is not well-liked, more so because of how it is used rather than its definition. As Dr. Reardon states: “politics involves going outside formal rules and channels to achieve desired ends, and sometimes that’s exactly what people need to do in order to advance valuable perspectives” (234). She even goes so far as to say that politics is often the reason why most things get done in organizations. All of this is to say that we should embrace politics within an organization, and not try to fight it.
Experimentation is at the heart of this ground-breaking book. If you do not try new things in new ways, how will you grow? You probably won’t, and if you do, it will be at a snail’s pace. The courage to experiment is a key method, and a necessary one at that, that you need to embrace if you’re wanting to reach the secret handshake. In addition to experimentation, the desire to always be learning – curiosity and wonder – will get you very far within these political landscapes. Remember, politics is always shifting and evolving, so to stay on top of things, you need to be too. The ability to shift and change with the landscape is key.
This brings us to a close on our Secret Handshake series. We hope you’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, and have learned, pondered, and put into practice the skills and suggestions that Dr. Reardon so eloquently lays out in her book. And remember, the secret handshake is certainly coveted, but achievable if you have the drive and passion to access it!
Reardon, Kathleen Kelley. The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.