Power: Why Some People Have It

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Overview

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 is not having a realistic understanding of what makes some people more successful than others. By believing that life is fair, we tend to subscribe to the “just-world phenomenon,” which leaves us unprepared for the challenges and competition of the real world.

Now Pfeffer brings decades of his incredible insights to a wider audience. Brimming with counterintuitive advice, numerous examples from various countries, and surprising findings based on his research, this groundbreaking guide reveals the strategies and tactics that separate the winners from the losers. Power, he argues, is a force that can be used and harnessed not only for individual gain but also for the benefit of organizations and society. Power, however, is not something that can be learned from those in charge—their advice often puts a rosy spin on their ascent and focuses on what should have worked, rather than what actually did. Instead, Pfeffer reveals the true paths to power and career success. Iconoclastic and grounded in the realpolitik of human interaction, Power is an essential organizational survival manual and a new standard in the field of leadership and management.

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Editorial Reviews

Inc.
“[Power] will help you get comfortable with challenging assumptions and lingering on the pause....[Pfeffer] draws on a wealth of social-science and psychology research.”
Financial Times
“[Power] ought to be required reading for would-be leaders...[E]xcellent.”
The Economist
“[Academics and consultants] have an interest in presenting business as a rational enterprise.... This leaves the analysis of power to retired businesspeople...(who strive to present themselves as business geniuses rather than Machiavellis) and practicing snake-oil salesmen…Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business School is an exception to this rule.”
Jim Collins
“Jeff Pfeffer is of immense service to the world with his work, blending 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.”
Robert Cialdini
“Talk about speaking truth to power! In refreshingly candid prose, Jeff Pfeffer offers brilliant insights into how power is successfully built, maintained, and employed in organizations. It’s well known that when Pfeffer speaks about power, smart people listen. This book shows why.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
“Jeff Pfeffer nails it! Political skill, not just talent, is central to success in every field. In Power, this leading scholar comes down to earth with practical, even contrarian, tactics for mastering the power game.”
The Economist
“[Academics and consultants] have an interest in presenting business as a rational enterprise.... This leaves the analysis of power to retired businesspeople...(who strive to present themselves as business geniuses rather than Machiavellis) and practicing snake-oil salesmen…Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business School is an exception to this rule.”
Financial Times
“[Power] ought to be required reading for would-be leaders...[E]xcellent.”
Inc.
“[Power] will help you get comfortable with challenging assumptions and lingering on the pause....[Pfeffer] draws on a wealth of social-science and psychology research.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061789083
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Pages: 273
  • Sales rank: 208,684
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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 coauthor of thirteen books, and has also held visiting professorships at the Harvard Business School, London Business School, IESE Business School in Spain, and other institutions.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Persuasive argument for the power of power in your workplace and your life

    If power corrupts, why does everyone lust after it and worship those who have it? Power - used wisely - can keep you healthy, make you rich and let you achieve great things for humanity. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior, explains why seeking power is in your best interest and shows you how to attain power and keep it. He debunks the objections you usually hear from the powerless and the powerful alike. He lays out a step-by-step guide on how to start building your power, what you'll need and, most important, what it'll cost you to achieve. getAbstract recommends Pfeffer's somewhat-less-than-Machiavellian, but still useful, book to anyone who ever has felt powerless in work or in life and wants to power up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    The traits needed to achieve power in the corporate world.

    And everywhere.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    APHRODITE CABIN

    Goddess of Love and Beauty

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  • Posted November 12, 2011

    Does a great job of distilling relationship issues that support power.

    I highly recommend it for those working to be more influential in an organization.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Look at Power - but it can be scary

    You wouldn't teach these things to your kids or try them on your spouse, but some how these power plays are acceptable--admired, even--in the boardroom.

    Jeffrey Pfeffer's latest book, "Power", tells us about the reality of getting and keeping power at the top levels of corporations. Early on, he tells us to forget the notion that the world is fair. People who know how to play politics become the true power brokers.

    He reminds us to reward our supporters and punish our foes (but sometimes reward our foes but move to a different place where they can't hurt you, a la long time San Francisco mayor Willie Brown). He tells us to manager our bosses, for quantifiable performance measures have little to do with promotions. Rather, complaint board members will allow the CEO to keep his job long after the stock prices have fallen and several rank-and-file employees have been fired. The world is not fair.

    I admit that I grew up with the notion of being a servant-leader. Yes, I admit that the world Prof. Pfeffer describes is closer to reality. However, it is an ugly place to live.

    Before any one becomes too enamored with the life of power, consider the cost of that power--which itself is the topic of a whole chapter. You won't be with your family. Those around you will be forever seeking your fall. You will be quarantined from knowing the real problem from the front lines. You will be surrounded by yes-men and yes-women. Finally, when the power fades--and it always ends--people will no longer pay attention to you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted October 13, 2011

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    Posted July 23, 2011

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