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If you don't do politics, politics will do you


2007 Tutu Fellow Niven Postma has launched her book If you don't do politics, politics will do you...A guide to navigating office politics effectively and ethically (And yes, it is possible.)  Her publication seeks to raise awareness on what office politics actually are, and how being politically intelligent is the single biggest determinant of personal and professional success. The book was launched on 04 August 2020.

Niven reveals that you can use politics to advance your career, benefit your team and build the organisation you are part of.  She points out that politics needn't be unethical, unpleasant and unfair as most people perceive it, so so they shouldn't be avoided.

The author defines corporate politics as the informal, unofficial and sometimes behind-the-scenes efforts to sell ideas, influence people, increase power, or achieve other objectives. Still, she points out that a politics-free working environment doesn't exist. "You will find corporate politics wherever there’s a group of people together, from big corporates to NGOs, churches to academia. People tend to see politics as negative and destructive. The eat-or-be-eaten, me-or-them dynamic. The stereotype is not wrong, it does exist, but it’s not the whole story," Niven said.  You can read insights about why she wrote this book - especially as it pertains to professional success and 'sucking up to the boss' - in a post by her on LinkedIn.

In the book, readers can learn about key skills that politically smart people have, such as managing the perceptions other people have of them or managing their stakeholders. Critics described the book as an "an excellent guide" and an "eye-opener", offering practical insights and wisdom to navigate through office politics effectively and ethically.  Ben Matai, Vice-President, HR and Corporate Affairs at Sasol Mining said that the book was the "definitive guide to working politically smarter!"

Niven is the Managing Director of Niven Postma Inc, where she works as a leadership and strategy consultant in South Africa, Australia, the UK and Germany. She is also a visiting lecturer at Henley Business School where she teaches a course on "Navigating Office Politics".

Niven is also an Associate of Lead with Humanity, an organisation that provides immersive leadership experiences in South Africa, for delegates from all over the world; and, an Associate of The Networking Company.  She has been offering leadership development programmes, primarily aimed at women, across Africa. She has been CEO of the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA); CEO of NOAH (Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity), one of the largest children’s NGOs in South Africa;  Head of External Strategy and then Head of the SARB Academy at the South African Reserve Bank; and Head of Leadership and Culture for the Standard Bank Group.

For three years, Niven has been a consultant with the global strategy consulting firm Monitor Company, where she worked on cases for clients that spanned mining, retail, healthcare and government, in South Africa, the USA and Turkey.

The book can be purchased from Knowres Publishing as an  eBook or print.

The cover picture to this article is from Dilbert, which so often pricks the bubble of corporate politics.


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