Playing the game is not about politics

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Playing the game is not about politics



This is something that came up with a coaching client during a session yesterday. A successful VP at a large multinational wanted to know how to play the game! The client was known for being curt with his answers and respond in a manner which irritated others. On the other hand the client feels: “it seems the world out there wants to prove that the I am not good at my job and they don’t like me. Neither they understand the complexities of what I do and how difficult it is. I… I don’t think I know how to play the game. I don’t know how to work when things become grey!! I don’t want to play politics”

I understand that is a typical environment in any professional environment where in two individuals or teams interact. I have lived it myself during my corporate life. But I don’t think it is reasonable to equate “Playing the game” with Politics. Although I agree that politics in itself is not bad, but it carries a negative connotation none the less. So keeping in mind that everybody thinks politics is bad, I would like to keep it separate from playing the game.

According to me you start playing the game when you stop reacting to your emotions and start thinking logically in the moment the need arises. People who are “emotionally compromised”, find it hard to think logically and hence take bad decisions and react poorly. The emotional state clouds your ability to think rationally. You are in a state of protecting yourself (your self defence mechanism kicks in) and react only to save yourself. The moment you have started thinking logically, you have started thinking from all directions and from each person perspective. You are better placed to understand:

  • The various options available to you
  • The list of actions you can take based on those options
  • The potential impact of each action on the environment and you

You playback all these possibilities rationally and choose the best course of action. If you look at the steps above, you will see the closeness with playing chess. And hence the name playing the game!! A great leader is able to do that with ease and every time. The leader is aware of his emotions and is able to manage his emotions. The leader is then able to play the game and enjoy it too!!

So the next question is “how to manage your emotions in the heat of the moment and think logically?”. I plan to cover this in the next blog, so keep watching this space :).


Image courtesy of zirconicusso at

4 Comments so far:

  1. Rajiv Krishnamurthy says:

    Are decisions really clasified as GOOD or BAD before they are made?

    • says:

      Dear Rajiv, its about thinking before leaping. Have you thought about the impact of the decision you are making and in what state is the decision being made. The decision might end up being good but if it has not been thought through before taken, then there is a high probability of going wrong. I am merely pointing out that in emotional state you are not really equipped to take quality decisions.

  2. Kiran Gedela says:

    Good one Rajat.

    This got me thinking, what if the person can be a logical and objective thinker, is aware of the emotions and is able to manage them, but is unable to play the game effectively.

    The possible justification he gives himself on why he fails in playing the game with the other person is that – the trust factor is missing because of past history or perhaps there is a value system conflict.

    Do you think these justifications are valid or the person is just fooling himself. Can he really enjoy playing the game ?

    • says:

      Dear Kiran, The trust and value system conflict will be included in the logical & objective thought process already. Not just the person’s, also other(s), he/she is dealing with. The point is to disassociate playing the game with politics in our minds. It then becomes a concept of logical play without any negatives associations and our own value system (if it is against it) will allow you to function in that space. Then the question of enjoying the game does not exist. It is more about taking logical decisions. I hope that helps 🙂

I would love to hear your comments/Feedback on the blog and have a creative discussion around it!!