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Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don't

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,487 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
“Pfeffer [blends] academic rigor and practical genius into wonderfully readable text. The leading thinker on the topic of power, Pfeffer here distills his wisdom into an indispensable guide.”
—Jim Collins, author of New York Times bestselling author Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall

Some people have it, and others don’t—Jeffrey Pfeffer explores why in Power. One of the g
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by HarperBusiness (first published August 30th 2010)
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Apr 01, 2013 Book rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t by Jeffrey Pfeffer

"Power" is an interesting study of organizational behavior that leads to obtaining power and thus success. Professor of School of Business at Stanford University and author or coauthor of thirteen books, Jeffrey Pfeffer provides insight to the path of power. In general, the author succeeds in persuasively defending his main ideas but he does so with little consideration or at the expense of ethics. This power-charging 288-page boo
Joe Robles
Mar 19, 2011 Joe Robles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: executive-shelf
This is one of those books that should be considered a must read! If you've ever wondered why someone gets promoted over you or why you just can't seem to advance in your career, you should read this.

Power explains why people who aren't very smart or hard working seem to get so far. The first thing you have to realize in business is that, "life isn't fair." Don't expect it to be. I have a phrase that guides me in my working and management decisions: "you can either be right or be effective." Som
Book Calendar
Feb 06, 2011 Book Calendar rated it really liked it
Power Why Some People Have It And Others Don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer is a professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University. He is writing about building power or authority inside organizations. His focus is more than politics. It is also about how to succeed at the top levels of companies or organizations.

There is focus on personal success in this book. He describes the process as much more than working hard. In fact, he shows how perform
Jan 01, 2011 Charlice rated it it was ok
There wasn't much surprising in this book. Although the author cites much more research to back up his assertions than most management writers, the advice is fairly standard: build your network, behave confidently, etc. His characterization of leadership research and teaching as "pablum" was off-the-mark. I find it interesting that he expects readers to trust social science research supporting his arguments on attaining power, but expects us to dismiss research that seems to contradict him. As ...more
Thomas Edmund
Oct 22, 2010 Thomas Edmund rated it it was amazing
Pfeffer (Glad this is a written review I have no idea how to say that name) is an academic who specialises on organisational behaviour, and this book is essentially his advice on how to obtain, maintain, and understand power.

While his book unsurprisingly mostly focuses on corporate CEOs, Pfeffer's principals apply equally well to non-profits, politicians and any other situation that involves other people and positions of power.

Probably the most helpful, but most unpalatable advice is to suck-up
Why has it taken me over a year to finish an otherwise superb and engrossing book? A ridiculous writing style.

Example: "The committee was charged with organizing the events for a weekend when the school she attended hosted admitted applicants who were deciding where to pursue their degrees".

The author is unable to construct a readable, focused sentence. Furthermore, he jumps from to anecdote to anecdote to prove a single point, which is quite stimulating to begin with but grows old very quickly
Oct 29, 2010 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway

It's hard to come around and endorse Jeffrey Pfeffer's latest book. Not because it's inaccurate or deceptive or dishonest, but precisely because it's none of those things.

Pfeffer lays out a survey level argument of why power politics exists, what it takes to obtain and maintain it, and why the system is not going away. When combined with current events, for example the recent film Inside Job, it provides a solid explanation why so many people wh
Uses anecdotal evidence and like many advisory texts, can be slightly contradictory, but basic principles ring true
It is an easy read with interesting examples. If you dislike the
title, consider how the world is political, and it is in you interest
to know the power games other people will play.

A few highlights:
* When Keith Ferrazzi (author, CMO, CEO) was offered a position at
Deloitte, he insisted in seeing the "head guys." He met the NYC chief,
Loconto, over dinner and Keith said he would accept if the two would
have dinner once a year at the same restaurant." This was a gutsy
move, but gave him influence at
Kater Cheek
Aug 10, 2012 Kater Cheek rated it liked it
I had hopes that this book would be more about socioeconomic and political struggles from an anthropological bent, but instead, it could be titled "how to get ahead in the workplace". He touches briefly on governmental-type politics, but for the most part, this book deals with inter-office politics.

Much of this book is intuitive. People with power are healthier and live longer than the powerless. People suffer from withdrawal when they lose their power. People with more power earn more money. Yo
Constantin Minov
Jun 19, 2015 Constantin Minov rated it really liked it
Power is necessary because is a part of leadership and because is needed to get the things done in each field is applied. Although the concept of power is not inborn but learned some people have it and others don't. This book explains how power is achieved , maintained or even lost in some circumstances. The author presents some key points which are necessary to accumulate power. In achieving power you must develop certain personal qualities like researching a favourable place to begin, explore ...more
Jun 19, 2016 Abhishek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A comprehensive biography of power - how it is born, nourished, and what causes it to perish; its functions and uses; who it is for; what to do or not do with it once you have it; and above all, what cost it exacts of those who seek it. Some reviewers of this work have criticized the author of suggesting unethical practices. J Pfeffer is a much stronger proponent of what is ethical than a host of other business professors and practitioners out there. However, this book is not about ethics, it is ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Josh rated it really liked it
Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer is a book containing strategies for navigating hierarchies in principally business organizations but also with implicit application toward hierarchies applicable toward any social setting: political, educational, religious, familial and intimate. This book should make you rethink every personal interaction you have over the course of your day, from the checkout counter, to strangers on the street, to your boss, to your ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Wilte rated it liked it
Mix of interesting research, anecdotes and advice ("broaden your power base", "you need to take care of yourself and use whatever means you have to do so", "organizational politics is everywhere"). The advice is a bit too cynical, misanthropic for me (I might be too naive).

Interesting stuff:
P26 "the nail that sticks up gets hammed down": as general career advice, it stinks
P34 research by Jennifer Chatman: there might be a point at which flattery became ineffective, but she couldn't find it in he
Nov 22, 2014 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: eco-cool
The kind of book where the author thinks he knows everything. Not bad, the cases were intersting but the greates part of the knowledge was based on his opinion.
Dec 15, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish. It seemed to be all about how to get power in order to move up an org chart.
Madhur Ahuja
Sep 05, 2016 Madhur Ahuja rated it really liked it
A very practical book on anyone looking to achieve the position of power / high rank.
Ron Molenda
Nov 30, 2016 Ron Molenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading

This is perfect for anyone who has been recently promoted,aspires to be, or is frustrated with the games people. It is blunt, commonsense, and to the point but avoid the seedy feeling of The Prince and its like. This book may be simplistic for insiders and old hands, but it is a great primer for those of us who are trying to tread water with the sharks.
Dec 05, 2016 Russell rated it liked it
I picked this up because it was cited in _The Age of Em_ and I guess the main thing I have taken away is that I am being held back by scruples.
Jed Bellen
Oct 19, 2016 Jed Bellen rated it it was amazing
This book is very helpful for one's career.
Nick de Vera
Oct 18, 2016 Nick de Vera rated it it was ok
Robin Hanson's citation got me here. Uninmpressed. Short book, nothing new, Machiavellianism.
Daniel Dawson
Feb 20, 2015 Daniel Dawson rated it liked it
This book was a little on the Machiavellian side for me, but I still enjoyed it.

-"The road to the top may require different behavior than being successful once you have arrived."

-"This ability to effectively self-present is why successful individuals reached high levels in the first place."

-"Therefore, your first responsibility is to ensure that those at higher levels in your company know what you are accomplishing. And the best way to ensure they know what you are achieving is to tell them."
Sep 29, 2016 Anson rated it liked it
This is the second book by Professor Pfeffer from Yale. It is explains how to accumulate power and why some people get more power than others.

Some of the most insightful comments - being too good at your work means your manager won't want to promote you because he/she doesn't want you to leave.
Dec 12, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, business
Jeffery Pfeffer offers a well-crafted, how-to manual of gaining power in an organization through his aptly titled book. There are several themes throughout the book that sometimes do not seem entirely righteous including: the world is not just or fair (get over it); be your own champion and promoter; do not worry about being well-liked; and do not pass over or delegate power. The lessons may not always be pleasant, and they may seem Machiavellian to the delicate (he finally references The Prince ...more
Jenn Spykerman
Sep 26, 2016 Jenn Spykerman rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It has such good tips and thoughtful ideas to help put today's office politics and strategies in perspective.
Sep 25, 2016 zillz rated it it was amazing
It's a necessary read and an appropriate reality check on what's fair and not fair in the world. Power is full of tips and examples of influence, how to get power, and how to project the personality.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2011.


If you’ve ever wondered what causes some executives to rise to the top while others flounder in middle management, this book offers some unique insight. In Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Sta
Blog on Books
Oct 17, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to get a good job? Want to move up the corporate ladder? What are the tools you are going to need?

A good education? Hard work and smarts? Being well liked?

Not so much, at least according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford Business School professor and author of numerous books on this and related subjects. No, despite popular notions and the usual urban myths, Pfeffer contends that the path to power is significantly different than the popular notions we were raised to believe.

In “Power: Why Some
Kathleen O'Neal
Apr 30, 2016 Kathleen O'Neal rated it really liked it
As books on leadership go, this is one of the most honest and down to earth ones that I have read thus far. While I of course did not agree with every word of the book, I think that on the whole Jeffrey Pfeffer has a clear understanding of why some people succeed in organizational contexts while others fail in them. Reading this book was actually quite reassuring for me because, as I read it, I realized that where my career in academic philosophy was concerned I had followed almost all of ...more
Mar 31, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: introverts, extroverts, superheros, executives, mid-level managers, VPs, Business Students
Ever needed power or wondered how people with power got power in the first place? Author, Jeffrey Pfeffer, who has written about power and teaches an elective course at Stanford on Power, has laid out all that you need to understand and achieve to get power.

This book explains the frame work of what people understand about power, the types of people who naturally have power and know how to use it but also how people with power can give it away without knowing or intentionally. Many people have o
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Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First; Managing with Power; The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action; Hidden Value: How Great ...more
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“Being memorable equals getting picked.” 1 likes
“The two fundamental dimensions that distinguish people who rise to great heights and accomplish amazing things are will, the drive to take on big challenges, and skill, the capabilities required to turn ambition into accomplishment. The three personal qualities embodied in will are ambition, energy, and focus. The four skills useful in acquiring power are self-knowledge and a reflective mind-set, confidence and the ability to project self-assurance, the ability to read others and empathize with their point of view, and a capacity to tolerate conflict.” 1 likes
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