Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lessons of Power and Politics 2: Killing Sharks

Today I went to PP (Power and Politics) with Prof. Alvarez. I'm enjoying it much more than classes for which I'm registered. In fact, I've missed 2 courses of Corporate Financial Report and Analysis (interesting for those really into it), but wouldn't miss PP and CRFD...
As was the case with Fernando, people either love it or hate it. I love both of them.

Today's class particularly was insightful. It was on killing sharks in Corporate world. Prof. Alvarez is making it very practical, and as close as MBAs reality of post-INSEAD.

Not to steal the course's thunder, I'll be brief. There are 3 broad tactics post-INSEAD in the Corporate world: Survive and Adapt at first, then Create your Platform to build Power and Influence, and Be Competitive and Create strategic Partnerships (for the sake of learning and protection).
That latter point was studied in depth. The case was about a likeable manager not able to manage up, but quite at ease managing down. Comes the shark, brown-nosing the Boss during a crucial Seminar, and finally getting the promotion promised to the manager.

Funnily, lots of people in class were biased towards the manager, because we're nice, but the bottom line was: she was incompetent in politics, whether nice or not, skilled or not, and what matters is the Boss. At one point, the shark showed vulnerability by putting forward fluffy numbers. Though the manager could have crucified him, she chose not to, because it was not her style.
There was the critical mistake. "When you're dealing with a shark, don't postpone the fighting" claimed the Prof. He added that naive people invite aggression, and that was deserved. Using the analogy of a National Geographic documentary, he claimed that naive or weak people should be used as targets, or simply as exercise, to assure your own authority.

That was a bit chilling, I must say. But the truth is, he is 100% correct. Because we are judged by 2 elements: Task, and Fit/Style. Task is a given, Fit is more difficult to get. Hence people with attitude often win.
I first was relieved that, not going back to the Corporate world, I may be spared of this tedious game, but on second thoughts, Politics is everywhere...

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At 6:45 PM , Blogger The Apprentice said...

I know it's all true - and the prof is spot on. But am I the only one who finds this reality depressing?

At 2:41 AM , Blogger DomoDomo@INSEAD said...

I'm sure you're not the only one. I'm sure you find it depressing because it's in theory "unfair". But hey, that's why we have Power and Politics classes, to at least be prepared to play the game... Put yourself in the shoes of a boss, you'd probably pick the shark too, because reflexion spans are much shorter so impressions count a lot... Would you?

At 2:42 AM , Blogger DomoDomo@INSEAD said...

By the way, are you the INSEAD Apprentice candidate??

At 1:20 PM , Blogger The Apprentice said...

I would specifically not pick the shark because that's a personality trait I do not like. But I think that's a moot point because of this I would never be boss in the first place :-)

I'm afraid I'm not the INSEAD Apprentice candidate. Didn't know there was one. Interesting. The things people go through to get a job!


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