Summary of The Secret Handshake

Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle

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The Secret Handshake book summary
Machiavelli wrote that hypocrisy and deceit were useful political skills for the up-and-comers of his time. Not so today.


8 Overall

10 Applicability

6 Innovation

7 Style


In 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince, the classic work on how to acquire and maintain power through the ruthless use of insidious politics. Machiavelli argued that when it comes to politics, morality is passé, and hypocrisy and deceit can be eminently useful. Nearly 500 years later, management expert Kathleen Kelley Reardon introduces her own book on the subject of politics and how to use political techniques to get ahead. She details the indispensable political skills that ambitious individuals need to move up inside any modern organization, and explains how to use them effectively and ethically. getAbstract appreciates Reardon’s comprehensive understanding, savvy and wisdom concerning the business world’s most nuanced and little understood subject: personal politics. Many dislike politics and find its practice unseemly. However, as Reardon writes, without it, nothing gets done and no one gets ahead. Once you accept this fact, learning how to use politics morally and advantageously makes perfect sense.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why you must develop political proficiency to become a senior executive
  • Which skills you need
  • How organizations rank from least political to most political
  • What the four main political profiles are
  • How to use specific political tactics


Play or Get off the Field
Are you an up-and-comer within your organization? Are you on the fast track to the top? You may think that you are, thanks to your stellar accomplishments, hard work and executive qualities. But if you lack political acumen and savvy, you are going nowhere. All...
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About the Author

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Ph.D., teaches management at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. She also is a frequent consultant to Fortune 500 corporations and other major companies.

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