If you are ambitious and choose to get involved in power-plays, the first thing you need to recognize is that you have to leave your values, emotions, ideals, and most high-minded human traits, "at the door" (as it were), if you want to have a shot to become the "top dog."
There is an angle to everything you say and do; to every relationship you choose to "nurture." Like a chameleon, you adapt your message to your audience, to your environment; you are folksy with folksy folks, and you are high-brow and educated and a little snobbish when you are with the snobs.
You become so good at it, that in every circle people can't stop pointing out what a "nice guy" you are, and how smart you are, and how you connect with people with such ease.
But to you, it's all mechanical; a game. There are no emotions involved at all--God forbid.
In politics, I observe how this phenomena works so perfectly, both on the left and the right. On the right the useful idiots (the normal people) are the end-of-days religious fundamentalists, and the nativists, and the racists, and the nationalists. All acting out of their true beliefs and emotions, and being manipulated by the sociopathic ruling class.
On the left, they are those who earnestly go about trying to respond to every absurdity coming out of the loony right-wing. Refuting every stupid and absurd comment with facts, and studies, and statistics. And basking in the glory of being right about the issues, about the science, about the empirical evidence. All done in a mainly ineffective and powerless echo chamber. But ultimately, also being manipulated by the same sociopathic ruling class.
I've been in sales, marketing, consulting, advertising, and technology for years. I've been involved with business associations, chambers of commerce, community organization, non-profits.
I've seen one recurring thing in all those environments, when it comes to the naiveté of well-meaning people who have ambition to get ahead, or get promoted, or get a raise. I've had this conversation many times... I ask them "So you want to be promoted? And you think that because you are really good at what you do, and knowledgeable, and are never late to work, etc., that you should be noticed and that a promotion should be coming your way?"
They look at me perplexed, like saying "Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?" Obviously, they are a lost cause, but I try my best to leave them with something to think about: "If you want a promotion, and a position of leadership (and more responsibility) and a raise, then you have to play the 'power-play,' the 'political game.' Everything you do has to have an angle; every conversation; every project you take on; everything you volunteer to. Who knows about what you're doing, about your successes, about your contribution? How are you going to 'protect' the organization, and above all, how your boss, your supervisor, the owner of the company, the president of the organization, is going to personally benefit by giving you a promotion?"
I've had similar conversations with lots of people, and invariably, sometimes they are appalled that it should come down to those considerations. They proudly say, "I don't like to play those games... With me, it's-what-you-see-is-what-you-get." And so it will be. If you don't understand the concept of how to acquire power, then you'll never have it.
It has little to do with how right you are about anything.