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

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“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 greatest minds in management theory and author or co-author of thirteen books, including the seminal business-school text Managing With Power, Jeffrey Pfeffer shows readers how to succeed and wield power in the real world.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2010

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About the author

Jeffrey Pfeffer

30 books211 followers
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 Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People; Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management; and What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management, as well as more than 150 articles and book chapters. Pfeffer’s latest book, entitled Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don’t was published in 2010 by Harper Business.

Dr. Pfeffer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Pfeffer has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and for the past 8 years a visitor at IESE in Barcelona.

From 2003-2007, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column, “The Human Factor,” for the 600,000-person circulation business magazine, Business 2.0 and from 2007-2010, he wrote a monthly column providing career advice for Capital, a leading business and economics magazine in Turkey. Pfeffer also was a regular blogger for the Corner Office section of BNET (CBS Interactive), and currently writes for the Harvard Business Review website, Bloomberg Business Week online, Inc., and for the “On Leadership” section of The Washington Post. Pfeffer has appeared in segments on CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, and CNBC as well as television and radio programs in Korea and Japan and has been quoted and featured in news articles from countries around the globe.

Pfeffer currently serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit Quantum Leap Healthcare. In the past he has served on the boards of Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream, all human capital software companies, Audible Magic, an internet company, SonoSite, a company designing and manufacturing portable ultrasound machines, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater. Pfeffer has presented seminars in 38 countries throughout the world as well as doing consulting and providing executive education for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States.

Jeffrey Pfeffer has won the Richard I. Irwin Award presented by the Academy of Management for scholarly contributions to management and numerous awards for his articles and books. He is listed in the top 25 management thinkers by Thinkers 50, and as one of the Most Influential HR International Thinkers by HR Magazine. In November, 2011, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 309 reviews
Profile Image for Book.
726 reviews134 followers
April 2, 2013
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 book is composed of the following thirteen chapters: 1. It Takes More Than Performance, 2. The Personal Qualities That Bring Influence, 3. Choosing Where to Start, 4. Getting In: Standing Out and Breaking Some Rules, 5. Making Something out of Nothing: Creating Resources, 6. Building Efficient and Effective Social Networks, 7. Acting and Speaking with Power, 8.Building a Reputation: Perception Is Reality, 9. Overcoming Opposition and Setbacks, 10. The Price of Power, 11. How—and Why—People Lose Power, 12. Power Dynamics: Good for Organizations, Good for You?, and 13. It’s Easier Than You Think.

1. A well researched and accessible book.
2. Straightforward format. The author builds his case in a progressive, curricular manner.
3. This book is loaded with research-intensive examples of power in the corporate world.
4. The author stays focused on what it takes to gain power in the business world. " You can compete and even triumph in organizations of all types, large and small, public or private sector, if you understand the principles of power and are willing to use them."
5. The reasons for desiring power. "To be effective in figuring out your path to power and to actually use what you learn, you must first get past three major obstacles. The first two are the belief that the world is a just place and the hand-me-down formulas on leadership that largely reflect this misguided belief. The third obstacle is yourself."
6. Debunking the notion that the key to a successful career resides solely in performance. " The data shows that performance doesn’t matter that much for what happens to most people in most organizations."
7. The seven important personal qualities that build power.
8. Understanding where to begin establishing a power base. "So if you want to move up quickly, go to underexploited niches where you can develop leverage with less resistance and build a power base in activities that are going to be more important in the near future than they are today." Seeing how and why power varies across departments."
9. How to stand out in a crowd. "Your success depends not only on your own work but also on your ability to get those in a position to help your career, like your boss, to want to make you successful and help you in your climb."
10. Identifying the resources needed to build power base. " Power accrues to people who control resources that others cannot access."
11. How to build an effective network. "Networking actually does not take that much time and effort. It mostly takes thought and planning."
12. How to act powerful. "If acting is important as a leadership skill and for acquiring power, it is important to know how to perform. One principle is to act confident. There are others."
13. How to build your image. "The trick is to be sure you do the things to build your reputation, have others tout you, and attract the kind of media coverage and image that can help build your power base."
14. Ideas on how to overcome opposition and setbacks. "At the very moment when you have suffered a reversal in fortune and most need help, the best way to attract that help is to act as if you are going to triumph in the end."
15. The five costs incurred in the pursuit of power.
16. Many examples of why people lose power. "The best way to hold on to your position is to maintain your perspective and balance."
17. Dealing with power dynamics. "You need to master the knowledge and skills necessary to wield power effectively. In some circumstances, this may be good for the organization, but in virtually all circumstances, it is going to be good for you."
18. The author does a good job of summarizing the path to power.
19. Further reading section.

1. This book's approach to power does not take into account ethics.
2. Not too many surprises in this book. A lot of the research in fact coincided with my intuitions.
3. The author was extremely cautious with topics of race and gender.
4. The book is really about power play, how to manipulate, influence, take advantage...

In summary, there is a direct correlation between the reader's view on power and how much enjoyment they will derive from this book. That is, if you are of the mindset that it's about obtaining power at any cost then this book will be of your liking, on the other hand, if you believe in ethics this book will leave you uneasy. Personally, I had mixed feelings. In general, the author succeeds in providing many interesting examples in support of his ideas and how to obtain power. That being said, ethics considerations aside this is a fairly good book.

Further suggestions: "Influence" by Robert B. Cialdini, "Drive" by Daniel H. Pink, "Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works" by A.G. Lafley, " Secrets to Winning at Office Politics: How to Achieve Your Goals and Increase Your Influence at Work" by Marie G. McIntyre, "Power Questions" by Andrew Sobel, and "Quiet Leadership" by David Rock.
Profile Image for Joe Robles.
234 reviews20 followers
March 20, 2011
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." Sometimes you can be both, but if you must choose, you should always choose to be effective. What do I mean? I mean it might be a great moral victory to claim that your workers use common sense and don't do X, but if you want to be effective you spell out explicitly DON'T DO X. I hear this a lot from less effective managers, "they should know better than to do that." Maybe they should, but if you want to guarantee they don't do that, you WRITE IT DOWN.

This book essentially takes my right/effective to another level. You can be morally victorious by being a harder worker than that guy who got the promotion, or you can be THAT GUY.

An example of this book in my life: I got a promotion over a co-worker who had been there a year or more longer than me. She claimed once that it was because I "had a penis", implying that the boss was a bit of a misogynist. As I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't because I had a penis, but because I had balls. I'm not afraid to take risks to get my job done. I'm perfectly willing to get in trouble with my bosses by going outside the parameters they set for me, if I think I can get the job done. I have gotten in trouble before. My co-worker won't. You tell her do it this way, she does it that way. I got a promotion, she didn't.

I also will do 5 things adequately rather than one thing perfectly. Many of my co-workers don't. That's not only inefficient, it's a bad way to get noticed. I'm not saying half-ass a project, or get it done with mistakes (and neither does the book), but you should be able to accomplish multiple tasks at at least a minimum level. You can always improve later down the road. Again example from my life: when I was the stock person, we had a level that the shelves were supposed to be stocked at. I would always overstock so that the next day I wouldn't have to stock. This freed me up to work in the accounting office doing data entry for a couple hours a day. Which got me noticed by the owner and led to more money and better position. Everyone in the store hated how I stocked, but again me promotion, them not.

This book has examples such as these and many others on how to get power in your workplace. The one I have started working on since reading the book is networking. Networking is incredibly important. Most executive level jobs are gotten by "who you know", not by putting in an application. We'll see how that pans out.

I must say again: YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!
Profile Image for Donna.
3,834 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2021
This is Nonfiction and it talks about power in the work place. If you have it and don't protect it, you will lose it. That is the sum of this one. Some of this made me so mad, especially when people suffered from greed and envy. It felt like this book was perpetuating the bad behavior. Sad but true. And yet some of this felt doable and was constructive. Mostly this had info on how to survive the 'dog eat dog' business world. So 3 stars.
Profile Image for Book Calendar.
104 reviews7 followers
February 7, 2011
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 performance can hinder a persons career. I like his description of how personal networks are the second most important skill after technical ability. People move ahead becausue of who they know.

Parts of this book made me uncomfortable. There are descriptions of how to stand out without angering people.. This is a different approach than what I am used to.

The chapters on How To Make Something Out of Nothing and Overcome Oppositions and Setbacks made me think hard about my own career. He advises people to not look for where it is most prestigious, but look where they will succeed. The writing is quite thoughtful. It is aimed at making relationships with other people work.

I also like his description of the price of power; long hours, hard work, and loss of family and personal time. But, the author correctly points out in these days, you have to often fight just to stay in the middle.

This book describes patterns and tools to mproave your chances of success in organizations. It is very much a career management book. Jeffrey Pfeffer uses examples from very successful people like Zia Yusuf CEO of Streetline Inc, the California politician Willie Brown, and the venture capitalist and entrepreneur Heidi Roizen. This book is worth reading if you want to understand power inside organizations.
907 reviews23 followers
October 29, 2010
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 who get so many things wrong remain in positions of authority.

Unfortunately, Pfeffer's solution to this is that everyone needs to play the game. That there is no method for a society to escape from the power dynamic is the book's most depressing conclusion. What would be nice to see is a book that helps organizations protect themselves from power players, so that one doesn't continue to listen to the same bad advice over and over again.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
76 reviews
April 23, 2011
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 a very high level. All because he
asked. What could you have asked for?
* Ishan Gupta is an entrepreneur from India who positioned himself
with compiling a book of major Indian entrepreneurs. He had the
founder of Hotmail, the Indian president Kalam, and over a dozen
leaders contribute to the book. How? His pitch was as a fellow
entrepreneur and IIT graduate, he appreciated their courage, and said
no one would take a book by him seriously, he wanted their help to
write just a few pages or hundred words with key advice. He packaged
the request brilliantly, and almost all accepted. Asking for help is
inherently flattering. He leveraged his experience to write something
with a positive social implication. Then gained influence
with very big hitters, and 'jumped up a weight class.'
* Confucius said, 'Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's own
ignorance.' While this seems somewhat out of place in this book,
remember if you gain more power, you will change. It is best to not
become full of yourself.
* Stay focused on the outcomes you are seeking, and do not get hung
up on people and their idiosyncrasies. You can not and will not please everyone.
* Be able to act. As in acting, theatrics, Hollywood. If you are
'angry' don't always really be angry, as you can act with emotion,
skipping over facts, weaken you position, and alienate people. I have
made my worst mistakes when acting out of emotion. You can use
emotions effectively to lead a team; however, if you can have the
passion of emotion, without the irrationality, it is much
better. Thus, learn how to act. It disconnects the irrationality. When
I worked at FeedBurner, Dick Costolo was CEO there and he came from 10
years of stand up comedy. Extremely useful for his outward influence
(now CEO Twitter), and inward motivating employees.
* Synchronize the 'voice' of a team's many leaders. I have had huge
team problems because the peer group of senior leaders all had
different opinions about the vision and priorities. If one of us had
suggested a simple, quick, weekly breakfast or lunch meeting next door, we
would have been on sync. It would have boosted the team's morale and effectiveness.
* Oliver North vs Donald Kennedy's congressional testimonies suggest
theatrics (righteous anger vs shame and timidity) is a significant
factor for how people are judged. This was an "aha" moment. Senior
leadership is a lot of acting. CXO's may not see some employees but
once a year. The ability to turn on the energy and optimism (acting)
is crucial to leave strong, lasting influences in people.
* One comical specific claim was that "moving your hands in a circle
or waving your arms diminishes how powerful you appear. Gestures
should be short and forceful, not long and circular." Probably
true. How you carry yourself influences how you are viewed. Are you
the carefree person, consistent worker, angry person, goofy one, solid leader, etc.?
* Take you time in responding. Flustered or unsure people are
marginalized. Related to acting. When choosing between emotions or a
slower response, always choose the slower, more deliberate
response. (My editorializing).

Not amazing, but short and I finished it. I think I can only read a
small number of these kinds of books a year. Now I am ready to read
more math books.
16 reviews
January 1, 2011
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 such a prominent scholar, he should know that effective leadership and effective power-grabbing are distinct constructs. Leaders need power to be effective, but leaders whose primary interest is in self-interested power volleys will not be effective. As Pfeffer himself argues, there is a weak relationship between performance and power. I assume that is true of leaders as well.

One disturbing aspect of this book is that, several times, Pfeffer cites research showing that race and gender affect power in organizations. Since he doesn't offer any advice to people whose race or gender might disadvantage them in this sense (other than telling women that having children will be detrimental to their ascent), I suppose this is a state of affairs he takes for granted.

That said, this book is not without value, particularly for people who are strongly motivated to climb to the upper levels of hierarchical organizations. If that is your definition of power, this book will provide a great deal of useful advice on how to get there. For the rest of us, this book could be a good reality check. Like it or not, the politics are there. Many of these tactics are useful for surviving and thriving in that reality.
Profile Image for Jeff Mousty.
39 reviews4 followers
December 29, 2016
I have listened to this book over the past month and at first I didn't like the title "power" I thought it should have been "influence." However as the book went on I got why he choose the word he did. YOU have the "power" to change and/or influence your destiny.

He summarizes in the end don't complain about your companies politics or processes or that your boss is a jerk. YOU have the power to change that.

He also spoke some on you have to stick out. He mentioned the Japanese proverb about a nail that sticks out gets hammered, but countered that with if you conform and norm you won't be remembered either. If you don't take risks don't expect to be rewarded either.

I'm thinking this book might be really good to share with my mentees who are getting frustrated with process of getting into leadership or who aren't understanding the need to stay driven. The author makes a point to say if you don't do something plenty of others are willing too so in essence you've just stated contentment with your current status.
Profile Image for Jing Fu.
21 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2020
The core theme of this book is the following: 1) world isn't fair; 2) power & politics is most important to your survival in an org; 3) you have to do everything necessary to take care of yourself and stay in power.

This isn't a book that tells pretty stories. In fact, it's quite shocking this type of "strategy" would be talked and advocated out in the open. For example, the author argues your boss' happiness is more critical for your career/promo than your actual performance, thus you gotta make your boss notice your work. Doesn't go well with some of my personal values, e.g. meritocracy, ideas over hierarchies, etc.

I don't like his reasoning, but I do think some of these tactics are generally helpful, e.g. don't be afraid to try/ask for help, build your personal brand, take initiatives, build internal/external contacts, make great first impression, overcome disinhabition.
Profile Image for Volodymyr Dehtyarov.
55 reviews77 followers
February 1, 2021
Книжка 6 з 50. Power: Why Some People Have It - and Others Don't, By Jeffrey Pfeffer
Одним із результатів курсу "Як продавати креатив" Pavel Vrzhesch стало поповнення вішлісту книжок.
Перша з них - "Вплив" Джефрі Пфефера. Я поділив би книжку на чотири частини. Перша - вплив допомагає в житті. Друге - без нетворкінгу та побудови мережі сильних та слабкіх зв'язків впливу не здобудеш. Третя - те, що ти кажеш і як ти поводишся, напряму впливає на твій результат. Четверта - не роби дурниць, тому що вплив легко втратити.
Із цікавих спостережень - деколи агресивна атака працює краще за вибачення.
Слухалося легко, думалося глибоко
Profile Image for Daniel Lee.
74 reviews
September 30, 2012
Wasn't the book for me. The advice is basically "the world is unfair. lie, cheat, steal and claw your way to the top any way you can. Stomp on a few throats if you want as well."
Profile Image for Steph.
217 reviews2 followers
December 15, 2014
I couldn't finish. It seemed to be all about how to get power in order to move up an org chart.
Profile Image for Subbu Allamaraju.
23 reviews13 followers
January 8, 2023
Jefferey Pfeffer wrote several books on this subject. While it is important to understand the concept of power to influence others, his writing style has a "the world is out there to get me" tone. This is typical of other books on power. I recommend completing this book with Robert Cialdini's book on Influence and material on authentic leadership.
Profile Image for L.
658 reviews10 followers
September 24, 2022
Why did I write that?

I read this eleven years ago (21-Sep-2011). At the time, I wrote this brief note to myself:

Based on the first chapter or two, a singularly repulsive little book.

It's basically "Petty Evil 101: Corporate edition".

Blog review.
Profile Image for Shuan.
56 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2022
This is the way

A must read for every person who works in a large organization. The author used research and examples to illustrate the importance of power in surviving and succeeding in organizations. He also provided some general tips about acquiring power.
Profile Image for Julian Dunn.
268 reviews15 followers
October 5, 2022
This book is honestly a bit of a mixed bag.

On one hand, it accurately describes much of the way the world works, where those who want power often deploy a high degree of ruthlessness (terror / anger / punishment of those who cross them) and play political games to win and then maintain their grip on power. On the other hand, it makes two fundamental mistakes: 1) it conflates power and autonomy and tries to make the argument that people who seek and obtain power are ultimately happier and die of fewer heart attacks (!!) and 2) it thereby assigns normative value to power dynamics in the current state of the world. If you can’t beat them, join them for your own happiness and satisfaction, in other words, conveniently ignoring the fact that current power structures, including capitalist economics, are deeply exploitative of many people including traditionally underprivileged groups. Plus, it’s only a sociopath who could, in good faith, exercise such ruthlessness without batting an eye. (His somewhat weird argument that, once you have accumulated enough power is the point in time when you can suddenly afford to be kind and altruistic, doesn’t hold water: firstly, what is the stopping point for power accumulation, and second, is it truly possible to transform from being Machiavelli to Gandhi overnight? I don’t think so.)

Throughout the book, you get the sense that Pfeffer himself is deeply skeptical at his own recommendations but still can’t help making them because the contract he has made with the reader is to show them how to gain power under our current capitalist system. Pfeffer’s internal conflict leads to an enormous number of contradictions in the book. For example, he makes a comment in an early chapter that, once you have amassed power, every move you make and whom you associate with is going to be scrutinized. Yet, in a later chapter, he admonishes those business executives who, once becoming enormously successful, divorce the spouses that helped get them there in favor of trophies, saying that it ”diminishes their influence”. You can’t have it both ways – you can’t advise power-seekers to act ruthlessly and with little moral or ethical compass in the unbridled quest for power and then come back to say that, actually, you should compromise that power trip to do right by your significant others.

The other reason that Pfeffer’s if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them thesis falls apart is that acceptance of the status quo and advising people to mimic it rarely results in societal progress. Imagine Pfeffer writing this book in mid-16th century England, for example, where one imagines he might have stated that yes, the world isn’t fair, but the monarch is all-powerful, and if you want to become happy and have fewer appointments with your cardiologist, you might as well try to gain power by trying to weasel your way into the aristocracy (or beheading your opponents, or whatever). While democracy has many flaws, it is unquestionably a more egalitarian and fair system for the populations living under it, and it would not have come to exist in its current form had the 16th-century upwardly mobile professional merely followed that era’s Jeffrey Pfeffer. Pfeffer’s advice results in the propagation of the status quo (power over) rather than the notion that society improves only via the exercise of power with. Certainly, there are always going to be hierarchies in the world, but those do not have to be as nakedly brutal and exploitative as Pfeffer suggests that we accept.

Ultimately, this is another one of those books that I found both highly odious but also insightful. Pfeffer is not wrong about the current state of the world, and if you seek to gain power for whatever reason -- and not just create autonomy for yourself in your role, which most people want rather than power over others -- the book is candid about how to do so under current systems. But I believe that in the broad, approaches like this only persist the deeply exploitative status quo.
Profile Image for Thomas Edmund.
883 reviews50 followers
October 23, 2010
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 to the people who can put you into power. Scientifically there is no end to the benefit of flattery and while many people find 'managing up' to be distasteful and false, at the end of the day this book is about getting power, not keeping the same job forever but being true to your principals (which is where I see most of my colleagues who think they're being powerful by antagonising their bosses but really are setting themselves up for stagnant career progression)

There is also discussion of the risks of power, some interpersonal advice around 'acting powerful' and a caveat about whether or not it’s worth seeking only power versus living a slightly more laid-back life.

Anyone with ambition will benefit from this book, it is enjoyable to read, while still having valuable information.

Something I'm interested in finding out is whether anyone disagreed with the content of the book and what their experiences of power are?
337 reviews
April 20, 2013
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 company's "most important" department full of talented, ambitious individuals could result in a longer, harder climb than starting out in an "up and coming" department.

The study finding that there is no point at which too much flattery is ineffective was also worth noting.

The warning that career effectiveness books written by successful businesspeople/politicians are retrospective, and may be what the author thinks people want to hear rather than the whole truth, also gave me pause.

Overall, I took few notes on the material in this book. I was glad to have been reminded of how not to give away power. However, I wasn't convinced that getting caught up in how to acquire power is likely to lead to personal happiness.
Profile Image for Cody Sexton.
Author 16 books72 followers
July 23, 2014
An honest reality based assessment of power and organizational politics. A guide book for those of us that have ever wondered how someone in power managed to get in power in the first place and how we can do the same. Most of the examples are presented with a corporate/business landscape in mind making them easily applicable in the workplace, however the lessons and tactics can easily be extrapolated into other contexts.
20 reviews
March 9, 2020
This book has some great information - but it seems to also be a powerpoint which someone extended to be a book. Some of the examples are very dated, so this needs a second release.
78 reviews5 followers
June 3, 2020
Як почувається дівчина, яка читала романи про чувака і білого коня, які закінчуються весіллям, а далі ніхто не казав, як воно? А потім трохи озирнулася, піднабрала досвіду і взяла книгу "Як захомутати мільйонера".
Або в'юноша, який читав про мушкетерів і честь, а потім, коли дізнався, як вступити у ВИШ, почав шукати "кінці" по знайомим?
Якщо ви вірите у справедливість світу - ця книга неприємна констатація факту, що це не так. Сумлінна праця не конче буде винагороджена, чесність не краща політика, талант не завжди знайде собі дорогу, добро не обов'язково перемагає зло, а вони "жили не довго і геть не щасливо" і так далі.
Власне, це найцінніше, що я дізнався з книги: "гіпотеза справедливого світу". Більшість книг, які ми читаємо з дитинства, приблизно про це - світ справедливий, кожний отримає належне.
Більш того, автор радить на книгах з історіями видатних лідерів ліпити застереження: "Це може зашкодити вашій кар'єрі". Бо успішні лідери в описі своїх успіхів випускають важливі моменти - боротьбу за владу. А там суцільний макіавелізм.
Загалом же книга складається з багатьох історій, які ілюструють певні дії у досягненні та утриманні влади. Вам пропонують розвивати відповідні навички, діяти, добиватися влади, бо влада вам потрібна, з нею ви ефективніші і навіть живете довше.
Але, по-перше, ілюстрація історіями протерічить тезі "це може зашкодити вашій кар'єрі", а по-друге, мало що з описаного буде для вас новим.
Хіба ви не знали, що потрібні корисні знайомства? Що треба подобатися керівництву (а не тільки й не стільки старано працювати)? Як важливо засвітитися? Що важливо мати союзників та прихильників? Або що нахабство і готовність до конфлікту допомагають у досягненні? Чи про важливість виглядати впевнено?
Проте почитати, мабуть, варто. Для систематизації й боротьби з "гіпотезою справедливого світу".
Profile Image for Steve Granger.
211 reviews6 followers
March 7, 2018
Management, red in tooth and claw. Pfeffer's no-nonsense approach melts through the bullshit like a molten rod through margarine. However, it's easy to walk away somewhat reluctant and depressed, but worry not idealists. Just accept that power and politics is a part of social life and is incubated within organizations. Throw away the idea that obtaining power and looking out for one's own interests is an inherent evil to be exorcised. If good people want to influence organizations to do good things, they must get themselves into a position to do so. Just don't forget to sincerely try to be a good person when you can and remember that power lowers inhibitions and reduces sensitivity to others. Potentially more time could have been spent discussing how people can develop their constitutions to never forget these things, but otherwise this was a very interesting and insightful book.
Profile Image for Alexander Holzmann.
33 reviews5 followers
January 26, 2021
Jeffrey Pfeffer is a professor in Organizational Behavior at Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. The book Power goes into the fundamental of office politics and power structures within an organization. It's a guide on how to increase your power and defend yourself to maintain a powerful position - a fundamental toolkit needed for anyone operating in any organization.

Having previously studied organizational behavior, this book filled in many gaps of mine and expanded my understanding for the structures that can occur within any organization.

A pleasant read based on management science.
Profile Image for Bernie Anderson.
164 reviews7 followers
December 18, 2022
Not gonna lie. I hated this book.
That said, what the author wrote isn't wrong. He accurately describes the world in which we live.
It helps me understand how and why certain things have happened to me in my own career.

My main issue with the book is what seems to be the author's view of power as related to ethics. While he's not wrong in his assessment of power -- this reads like a "how to" manual for gaining and keeping power -- at any cost.

I'm not a fan. Nor am I a fan of people who live this way. I feel this book is in many ways written for white male patriarchal power dynamic.

I think this book could be helpful -- but could also be harmful. Dangerous, even. Read with caution.
Profile Image for Tolga.
3 reviews
March 24, 2021
I feel like I need to write a note on this one. I think it shows a different perspective that we all need to know and face with. A different side of us or the reality of the world. That's why I gave 4/5 even I believe that we shouldn't have this type of management in our work life. But still it should be read to understand that this exists. And we need to be aware and be prepared for it.
Profile Image for Kirill.
70 reviews
October 28, 2021
Jeffrey Pfeffer is a tough guy. The kind of professor that's intimidating, but still the one you want to be in the class with. This book is less about power, but more about politics and how it can help you survive in the world of corporate America, and in life in general. It's a book for grownups with no sugarcoating. That's the one thing that's lacking here. A bit more encouragement and hope for the faint of heart. But then again, if it had that, it would be a completely different book.
68 reviews2 followers
October 5, 2022
I read this one after 7 rules of power and found much of the same content repeated. Would have been better for the Author to acknowledge similarities in the second book.
Profile Image for Christina Raggio.
30 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2019
Uncomfortable but important read on distinguishing yourself in organizations. I agreed with most of it.
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