Monday, May 21, 2012

10 Political Books Every Student in College Should Read in Politics

Politics professors require some of these books, while some are integrated as parts of college textbooks. Deepen your understanding of politics through these written works of prominent political figures.
  1. The Federalist Papers. Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles which aim to endorse the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. It is included in some college textbooks because it is considered a classic in the exposition of the Constitution.

  2. Democracy in America. French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America. A book looks at the American democracy through a European man's eyes in the 1800s.

  3. The Republic. Often a required as part of college textbooks on basic politics, The Republic, Plato's best known work, was written in the early 400 AD. It talks about justice, forms of government, and the characteristics of a just city-state, as well as the just man.

  4. The Politics. The Politics was Aristotle's political philosophical work which regarded men as natural political animals. It discussed a range of political subjects including the community, citizenship, constitutions, and states.

  5. Nichomachean Ethics. Another work by Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics is comprised of ten books, and has become an essential part of medieval philosophy. At the core, it attempts to answer the question: 'how should men best live?'

  6. Leviathan. In this book, Thomas Hobbes constructed his social contract theory which questions the origin of any given society, and the legitimacy of the state's power over its citizens.

  7. Animal Farm. George Orwell's novel is an allegory to the Russian revolution during the 1940s. Using farm animals as main characters, he addressed the how the revolution was corrupted by self-indulgence, ignorance, apathy, and even its own leaders.

  8. Caesar's Commentaries. The Commentaries may refer to one or both of written works of Julius Caesar: Commentarii de Bello Gallico (58-50BC) and Commentarii de Bello Civili (49-48BC). The Commentaries contain Caesar's description of the battles he went through, including the intrigues he witnessed thereof.

  9. Discourses on Livy. Written by Niccolo Machiavelli, the Discourses on Livy focuses on the structure and advantages of a republic. The novel is a contrast to Machiavelli's better-known work The Prince, which holds the total authority of monarchs over the people.

  10. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Reflections shows intellectual opposition against the young French Revolution. Although written in the 1790 by Irish political theorist Edmund Burke, the book influenced many modern conservatives and classical liberalists who are against communism and socialism.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Understanding Office Politics in the 21st Century Workplace

Office Politics: The Art Of The Possible

Playing politics is like having sex. Almost everybody does it, but nobody is comfortable discussing exactly what they do. We will talk for hours, however, about what other people might be doing. Typically, we use the term "playing politics" only to describe our colleagues' behavior - never our own. They are sucking up, scheming, and manipulating, but we are building relationships, developing strategies, and opening communication channels.

The above paragraph was quoted from Dr. Marie McIntyre's recent book, "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics". And it's true! When people are placed together in a corporation (or in a family, or a reality TV island), it is human nature to compete for power, influence, rewards, and recognition. How people carry out this competition, and the value individuals place on the spoils, are what we call office politics.
Ignore politics at your peril! A sure way not to get noticed at work is to simply allow the brilliance of your work to speak for itself - unless, of course, your work is winning Nobel prizes or you are single-handedly bringing in millions in sales. And not getting noticed is a sure way to dead-end your career. Ever notice that team players, not necessarily the hardest working, usually have the most influence? It's totally naïve to believe you can ignore interacting and influencing your coworkers and boss and still be a success.
There are always people who naturally navigate through and around the organization to get things done. For those of us not born with a genius for getting along with people, success at office politics can be as simple as being liked without being a phony. You can learn to communicate persuasively, and develop an assertive style backed with facts.

Companies that practice performance management actually place value on their employee's influencing and communication behaviors, even at the lower levels of the organization. They believe, correctly, that they get the best from their employees when the employee is fully engaged not just with the tasks at hand, but with the company at large.
There are instances where office politics are de-motivating. Gossip can be dangerous. When it's vicious and personal, it's almost unethical. If you are involved in a conversation that turns to gossip, you can try to subtly redirect the conversation to more constructive topics. And griping about your boss can be dangerous if it's later used against you.

Cliques seem so high school-ish. Yet they persist in the office. It's actually quite natural for people with similar interests or experience to associate with each other, especially if they've been through a lot together. If there is a positive culture at your work, the cliques that you might naturally gravitate towards will slowly accept you. Persist with a positive attitude.
Back-stabbing colleagues are one of the worst. They appear positive to you, then denigrate your work or character or steal your ideas behind your back. Dealing with them can be treacherous to your career and only after you're sure you're not the problem. From your standpoint, you will be better off practicing office politics in an uplifting, positive manner.

Bad bosses can easily make your work-place seem hugely political. When the boss shows little rhyme or reason, normal modes of communication and influence break down. Innuendo and perception become operative. Facts seem to matter little. You'll have to choose a strategy for dealing with a bad boss to keep you career.
A company's culture is defined by the way decisions are made and how influence is allowed to flow up and down the hierarchy - in short, by its politics. Embracing the culture will usually benefit you. And when you do join in, you'll then have the opportunity to put your own stamp - for better or worse - on the company culture.

Shawn K. Woods is President of Strategic Master Communications. (SMC) is a Training & Development and Executive Coaching Resource that's been used to cultivate, inspire and encourage diverse audiences to find their passion, execute their plans and make personal and professional decisions that will enhance and enrich their lives.
Through SMC's POWERFUL motivational messages shared in keynotes, seminars, workshops and on-going coaching sessions, we've been able to remove the fear of failure and rejection from the minds of individuals and empower them to find their passion and purpose in life, chase their dreams and REACH their Full Potential.
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