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

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  823 ratings  ·  95 reviews
In this crowning achievement, one of the greatest minds in management theory reveals how to succeed and wield power in the real world.

Over decades of consulting with corporations and teaching MBA students the nuances of organizational power, Jeffrey Pfeffer has watched numerous people suffer career reversals even as others prevail despite the odds.

Our most common mistake i
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by HarperBusiness (first published August 30th 2010)
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Joe Robles
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
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
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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
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
T. Edmund
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
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
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 s ...more
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
I thought I would dislike this book. I had thought most of the focus would be on wealthy white guys and their power plays. I was pleasantly surprised by the examples concerning women, minorities, and non-Western cultures. I also appreciate the bit on women and anger, and how behaviors effective for men are not always as effective for women.

I never really thought about the "power" of the various departments at my company before reading this book. In retrospect, it's obvious that starting out in a
Kater Cheek
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
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
Daniel Dawson
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."
A Robert Greene (of "The 48 Laws of Power" fame)-style analysis of power in organizational structures, and more specifically, how the reader can obtain power in an organization through positioning, visibility, influence, and hard work. While some of the Amazon reviews on this book decried the book's lack of an ethical tone, the stuff in this book really isn't particularly shocking to anyone who's been in a large organization for any decent amount of time (or watches TV shows about companies - or ...more
Scott Wozniak
While well-written and interesting, this is a very selfish book. It's about how to make yourself powerful at others' expense.

I learned a lot, but I'm not going to follow much of this advice. It includes chapters on how to deceive, manipulate, and use other people. Some points are very helpful such as how to communicate in ways that don't give away your authority. I did learn a lot about how many other people think about power, Maybe one of the more helpful lessons was his challenge not to be nai
Steve Scott
Oh Machiavelli. You have been reincarnate.
Instead of being chastised, this time your de' Medici's love you. The Medici knew even back then the danger of showing their hands and appropriately managed their image.

This type of work shows how far we have come in both recognizing how the world works and also showing the nature of man. If you are looking at a simple pragmatic and motivating introduction into power grappling then this is a good place to start. Personally I think that paper-chasing ty
This is a solid book, and one that is worth reading if one is interested in seeking and obtaining power for oneself. That is what is promised.

What is less examined, and perhaps necessarily so, is any "moral" aspect to these practices. The examples of Robert Moses is paradigmatic of how the pursuit of power is completely orthogonal to serving the public or serving an organization. Yes, Moses amassed a lot, A LOT of power. But, upon learning about his life, is that the person we want to be? Is tha
I have to admit, I expected something different from this book. Because I'm a storyteller intrigued by the idea of power, I inferred from the title that it would be a fascinating examination of what makes someone the kind of person who is powerful and influential.

But this book is far too practical for all that. It's an examination of workplace politics, offering concrete examples and suggestions for how to become more powerful at work. Jeffrey Pfeffer disregards all my romantic notions of power
Alexander Wj
Blah, terrible... well I guess closer to say disappointing. It starts out saying that all the other business success books and biographies are crap and filled with only the good stuff but then this book starts going off about the same stuff. Compliment people excessively, don't be afraid to ask for what you want, find ways to stand out--the problem is that the tone of the whole thing puts the reader into a begging position, where you let your boss know that you'd really appreciate it if so and s ...more
Mar 31, 2011 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Blog on Books
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
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
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
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
Think of Melanie Griffith's rise to power in the movie "Working Girls", and you will have some idea of what this book is about. "Power:Why Some People Have It and Others Don't" tackles the obstacles you may face in rising to the top of your organization and the tools and techniques you can employ to reach the level of power you want. Pfeffer should know, he has researched power for over 30 years and teaches courses at Stanford on the subject.

Topics include Diagnosing Departmental Power-["Being
Word Owl
For being a relatively easy read, it was full of good information. The author is respectful of your time in that he understands you don't have all day to sit around reading redundant anecdotes!
You can read my full review here:
Heath Ochroch
Good, Quick Read.

I liked the assertion that patiently waiting for your life to reward you for patiently waiting would lead to nothing but more patient waiting (redundancy intended). In order to succeed, it is necessary for you to be asserting that you are the one that is deserving of the raise, promotion, or just more responsibility in general. This point has been made in other books, but not as eloquently.

There is also a great section that examines the power of networking, how to do it, and ho
Jim Wilson
Glad I read this book instead of taking his class. Has interesting insights, but can't get past what feels at times like the author arguing it's ok to stab others in the back because most are likely looking to do it to you.
This is a traditional business book along the lines of "who moved the cheese", "Zap", "the one minute manager", for older readers of this genre, “up the organization" and "the peter principal".

I view these books like I do most seminars; they don't have all the answers but if I get anything useful from them my time isn't wasted.

In that vein, there's a lot of good insight here. I liked the slant the Pfeffer takes. Business is power and how you wield that power. There's a good bit of cynicism here
Daniel Sperry
Similar to "48 laws of power" and "What got you here won't get you there".

Keywords: reputation, just world fallacy, networking, weak ties, media exposure, cost of power, beware the leadership literature.
Peter Kahn
Useful information about techniques regarding obtaining and maintaining power. It also delves into the many biases that get in the way. We continue to be our greatest enemy in falling prey to delusion and how the world should be instead of seeing it as it is. The fairness bias leads us to inaction and to ignore important data points. it can also color our view of others abilities.

Having enough power to get things done seems useful. Power for power's sake seems a dangerous path leading only to u
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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
More about Jeffrey Pfeffer...
The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First

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“Being memorable equals getting picked.” 2 likes
“The sun’s rays, focused, are much more powerful than they are without focus. The same is true for people seeking power.” 0 likes
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