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Amid the swirl of office politics, it pays to stay grounded

Tune out the drama by zeroing in on the projects that really matter to you.

A human head rising above drama

Diffuse office politics by focusing on your ideas, projects and goals. | Illustration by Kevin Craft

In roles at Dropbox, Blue Bottle Coffee and most recently on the growth engineering team for Facebook’s Internet.org, Lauryn Isford, ’15, Management Science and Engineering, has observed firsthand how personal relationships and alliances shape an organization.

But rather than viewing this mix of personalities and priorities as a power game you can “win,” she advises tuning out that noise as much as possible and zeroing in on the projects that really matter to you.

Miss out on a desired promotion? Don’t think of it as a competition that you lost, but rather use it as a chance to step forward and reiterate your larger goals within the organization.

“Advocate to your manager and to your teammates what is motivating to you and what is important to you,” she advises. “That helps manage some of the stress and the insecurity and the disappointment when lots of politics are happening, because you have your eyes on the prize and you know what’s important to you.”

She finds that benchmarking her team’s success in terms of a larger company goal, rather than around how individuals impress particular managers, helps keep the focus on concrete achievements rather than political intrigue.

Beneath any organization, there is an underlying social fabric that holds everything together. On this episode of the LEAP! podcast, Isford and Kit Rodgers, MS ’98, Industrial Engineering, of Rambus join Tina Seelig, Professor of the Practice in Stanford Engineering’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, to discuss how to navigate that complicated web with confidence and grace.

You can listen to this episode and dig into other LEAP! episodes via Stitcher, iTunes, Spotify or Stanford eCorner.

In the LEAP! podcast, Tina Seelig — Professor of the Practice in Stanford Engineering’s Department of Management Science and Engineering — takes a deep dive into how to launch a career. LEAP! is produced by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.

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