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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,915 ratings  ·  221 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
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Harper Business (first published August 30th 2010)
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 ·  2,915 ratings  ·  221 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
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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."
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Book Calendar
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
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Charlice
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 ...more
Jeffrey
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
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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
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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
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Maura
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
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Stephanie
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.
Jenny Li
Uses anecdotal evidence and like many advisory texts, can be slightly contradictory, but basic principles ring true
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 ...more
Paige
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.
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
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Jonathan
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
...more
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
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.
...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
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Constantin Minov
Apr 11, 2015 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
Abhishek
Feb 07, 2015 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
Josh
Aug 24, 2016 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
Hans
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
Frustrating read. There is a large discrepancy between cultural ideals and what actually happens. Obviously everyone wants to believe that hard-work, industry and merit are how people get ahead, but that isn't completely true. Turns out the very aspect of political behavior that are commonly disdained work regardless of how ones feels about it.

Flattery, attention-seeking, breaking rules, reputation, likeability, posturing, social networking all play a bigger role in success than anyone would
...more
Wilte
Feb 16, 2013 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
...more
Rita Arens
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit of a blunt weapon, but I agreed with its somewhat harsh message of the need in modern life to captain your own ship.
Vivek Vikram Singh
Ambition, Energy, Focus, Confidence, Self Awareness, Empathy and a stomach for conflict - are the seven elements of power according to this book. The writing is crisp, the text is focussed, and the hypothesis compelling. The only grouse I have is the lack of variety in the examples. With an almost unlimited examples and life stories of powerful people from history to draw from, the author does the book disservice by sticking to a couple dozen examples.
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.
Míriam
Sep 22, 2014 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.
Nisha
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Helpful overview of core principles in influencing others
Madhur Ahuja
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very practical book on anyone looking to achieve the position of power / high rank.
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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
“Being memorable equals getting picked.” 3 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.” 3 likes
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