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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  4,206 ratings  ·  288 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Harper Business (first published August 30th 2010)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  4,206 ratings  ·  288 reviews

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Mar 30, 2013 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 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
Jul 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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. ...more
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Feb 06, 2011 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
Oct 15, 2010 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
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
Jan 01, 2011 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 s ...more
Jeff Mousty
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-work
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 na
Jing Fu
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
May 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Thomas Edmund
Oct 22, 2010 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
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Cody Sexton
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Daniel Lee
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
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." ...more
Uses anecdotal evidence and like many advisory texts, can be slightly contradictory, but basic principles ring true
Dec 04, 2014 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. ...more
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.
Steve Granger
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 thi ...more
Alexander Holzmann
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 understandin
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Oct 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jon Thompson
Oct 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Some books change your life. This can be one of them.
Should reread this every year or two.
Christina Raggio
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Uncomfortable but important read on distinguishing yourself in organizations. I agreed with most of it.
Pfeffer is a person who does not mince his words. Although one could argue that he like an old man ranting on endlessly.
Before reading this book, I had read Leadership BS (which was a interesting diatribe against the hackneyed portrayal of leaders i.e. "authentic, open, charismatic etc".
I would urge to read "Leadership BS" before reading this book, because I believe that this book lacks the punch. The anecdotes selected appear to be limited and cherry-picked. Also, the ending was quite abrupt.

Kater Cheek
Aug 10, 2012 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
Phil Sykora
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jeffrey Pfeffer’s POWER starts by examining the extent to which job performance affects professional advancement, and his answer is likely jarring for even the most cold-hearted cynic: Not much, if at all. Political savvy and thirst for power are much better indicators for promotion. He uses the example of Miami-Dade County superintendent Rudy Crew, who was nominated for the Broad Prize for Urban Education three years in a row, significantly improved academic performance, and opened thousands of ...more
Diana Berry Z-Com
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a really insightful read for anyone that is part of a company or organization looking into understanding how really promotions happen and how people get ahead. It is a hard truth tell like it really is. I wish I would have read this book when I started my career to save myself a lot of misunderstandings along the way. It is straight with the message, get closer to people in positions of power so they have you top of mind when the opportunities come.
Joey Guillory
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: entrepreneurship
Power is one of those books that I have constantly read for years. Pfeffer really lays it out on certain techniques to gaining power. He even talks about certain people who gain power so it's not raceless and sexless theory. So you are all probably wondering is it applicable? For a black man who does not have power not really. Here is my list why.

1. If your ADOS (American descendant of slaves) Even with a college education and credentials your intelligence will be highly scrutinized than other r
Pawan Gupta
Jul 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book should be mandatory for young graduates entering the workforce. The book is filled with truths about corporate life which you won't learn in school. Despite some of the ideas being controversial, being aware of them can help people avoid undermining themselves in a corporate setting. The corollary to that is that one may be able to spot 'power' behaviors in others and react to them appropriately. The book itself is easy to read and is not overly filled with examples conveying t ...more
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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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