Avoiding Destructive Team Politics

Are you leading a team in an organization were individuals compete against each other? A positive and supportive culture is important for the success of a team whether the organization is small or large.


Signs of a competitive or negative organizational culture include the following:

  1. everyone is out for themselves
  2. individuals try to get noticed by the boss
  3. bosses have favorites
  4. telling on team mates
  5. telling on the manager
  6. repeating things that others have said that might place people in a bad light
  7. spreading rumors and gossiping
  8. competitiveness and resentment

As a leader of a team, you do not have to let the culture dictate the team’s culture. You can help your team grow and develop and mitigate the impact of the wider organizational culture.

In their book Managing Without Walls, Kevin Wegryn and Colleen Garton prescribe ten rules for creating a supportive team culture:

  1. No complaining about or blaming each other
  2. No superstars or superstar behavior
  3. Don’t encourage members to outdo each other
  4. No reprimanding anyone in front of others
  5. No rewarding or congratulating individual results in team meetings – stick to things that are outside the scope of the team (i.e. finishing a marathon, )
  6. Talk about all the great things the team has achieved rather than mentioning specific people
  7. No comparing team members to each other
  8. No derogatory remarks about members
  9. No thinking or assuming you are better than someone else
  10. All Jobs are vital to the organization

How to Generate Success

Richard Wiseman wrote and article called How to Get Lucky in which he detailed his own empirical research findings to support the idea that we make our own breaks. In other words, our behavior determines, all things being equal, the outcome.

Based on his research he found that “lucky people” get that way by doing the following:

  1. seize chance opportunities by seeing what is there instead of being focused on their expectations;
  2. shift their habits and environment (i.e. take a different route to work, sit in a different seat, talk to different people);
  3. use positive expectations to create self-fulfilling prophecies;
  4. use counter-factual thinking – “it could have been worse” – to deal with misfortune and feel better about themselves.