In our last three blog posts (part 1, part 2, part 3) we have been looking at ways to navigate and survive the firm’s politics. In this blog post we will look at what we mean by political mistakes. Firstly, let us remind ourselves about what we mean by being politically savvy: (definition is taken from ‘how to make partner and still have a life’) Being politically savvy is a key skill for climbing the career ladder in professional services. However, this should not be confused with being ‘political’, which is a polite term for not being trusted or lacking substance. Let’s go back to what we mean by political mistakes. These come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Such as:
- Saying the wrong thing, either because of ignorance or because you couldn’t help yourself
- Creating rivalries, conflict or tension with influential people in the firm
- Acting inappropriately with clients, introducers or firm members.
The question is whether these political mistakes can wreck your career. The answer is most definitely. We can all point to folklore in our firms about high-flyers who came a cropper after saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Or massive falls from grace when a new senior partner gets appointed. What’s your experience of seeing others make political mistakes?