by Mindy Blodgett

Management Strategies: The Making of a Machiavellian Manager

Feb 01, 20032 mins
IT Leadership

Many CIOs think of corporate politics as an unnecessary evil. This can be a costly career mistake, according to the creators of a two-day workshop called “The Politics of IT Project Management.” The workshop aims to teach IT leaders how to be politically savvy as they build relationships, says Thomas McDonough, client services manager for the Bedford, N.H.-based management consultancy Ouellette & Associates that runs the workshop.

Kevin Copeland, manager of business relationships and Enterprise Technology Services project office at National Life Insurance in Montpelier, Vt., says the workshop changed his strategic approach to his job. “I have tended to look at politics in a negative way,” he says. “The [workshop] agenda made it obvious that there are ways to use politics to get a desired outcome and to keep unity on [IT project] teams.”

The workshop includes a quiz, where students test their political proficiency. A sampling of the quiz questions follows:

  • If I’m fair and honest, others will treat me the same way.
  • I have too much work to do, so I don’t have time for politics.
  • It’s acceptable to argue with a client (or user) to make a point.
  • In the past, IT hasn’t delivered everything we’ve promised, but that shouldn’t have any effect on my current project.
  • I never listen to or engage in gossip.
strongly agree sometimes agree never agree

1 2 3 4 5


The higher your score, the higher your degree of political savviness.

5-12 points: You’re a political hibernator, someone who dislikes and avoids political involvement.

13-22 points: You’re a political survivor, someone who recognizes politics is necessary, has a loosely formed network of contacts and is occasionally proactive.

22-25 points: You’re a political savant?confident, effective, someone who understands and excels in the political environment and stays well-connected at all levels of an organization.