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HBR Guide to Office Politics (HBR Guide Series) by Karen Dillon

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Chapter 2

The Boss Who Pits You Against Your Colleagues

The Problem

Your boss has you competing against your peers for her respect and attention. It’s a “reindeer games” scenario—only one of you can win some coveted prize, whether it’s the chance to lead a team, get a promotion, or just have a moment in the limelight. She has created a horrible, cutthroat environment for an otherwise collegial group of direct reports.

Why It Happens

Though some bosses don’t realize they’re creating this problem, in many cases it’s a deliberate management tactic: Task several people with solving a business challenge, and make it an implicit horse race. Even when a promotion isn’t on the table, senior executives often leave roles and responsibilities ambiguous ...

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