Power | Jeffrey Pfeffer

Summary of: Power: Why Some People Have Itand Others Dont
By: Jeffrey Pfeffer


In the book ‘Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t’, Jeffrey Pfeffer dispels the myth that success in the workplace is solely earned through merit and dedication. With fascinating examples and research, Pfeffer demonstrates that there are qualities and behaviors that can be learned in order to increase one’s influence, reputation, and personal power. Throughout this summary, you will uncover valuable insights on the qualities inherent to good leadership, such as confidence, energy, and empathy, and learn about the impact of choosing the right department, making yourself visible, leveraging resources, and managing conflicts tactfully.

The Misconception of Job Performance and Promotion

Hard work is not always enough to get promoted, as many studies have shown. The just-world hypothesis can also prevent individuals from learning from successful people who use different techniques to achieve their power.

Have you ever worked tirelessly at your job, convinced that a promotion is inevitable if you just keep burning the midnight oil? Well, think again. Studies have revealed that there is little correlation between job performance and promotion. This common misconception can leave individuals waiting a long time for a promotion that may never come, even if they are performing well.

The world is not always fair, and this mindset can hinder our ability to learn from successful people who have used different techniques to achieve their positions of power. This narrow view is often a result of the just-world hypothesis, which assumes that successful people are those who follow the rules and that the world is a fair place. However, adopting the mindset that some people have achieved their power through nefarious means can open our minds to new and effective techniques.

While it may be easy to dismiss successful people who use underhanded or ruthless approaches, this mindset limits our ability to learn from them. By assuming that their bad behavior will be punished, we miss out on valuable lessons. Broadening our perspective can lead to a wider range of useful tips and techniques that can help us achieve our goals. Don’t let the misconception of promotion based on hard work prevent you from learning from successful individuals who have utilized different techniques to achieve their power.

The Qualities of Great Leadership

The idea that some people are born natural leaders is a common misconception. Rather, anyone can become a great leader with the right education and qualities. Confidence, energy, and empathy are some of the inherent qualities associated with strong leadership. It’s essential to understand and reflect on these qualities to increase personal power. Additionally, identifying weaknesses and working to overcome them is crucial for success as a leader. So, anyone can learn leadership by starting with self-awareness and developing the traits that make a great leader.

Power in the Workplace

The department you work in can make a big difference in your career trajectory. A study of 338 managers showed that those who started in high-powered departments had higher salary growth and landed in powerful departments at other companies more often. So, how can you tell which department is powerful at your company? There are three factors to consider: relative pay (powerful departments generally offer higher salaries), physical proximity to top leadership, and representation on important committees like the board of directors. Physical proximity can change over time as departments shift in power, so it’s important to stay attuned to these changes. By choosing the right department, you can set yourself on a path to greater career success.

Career Advancement Strategies

To get ahead in your career, it is crucial to be visible. This means asking powerful people for help and being daring enough to make moves that set you apart from the crowd. Research shows that people overestimate the likelihood of rejection, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Additionally, you must stand out by doing things differently. Be memorable, whether it’s through breaking social rules or using your unique strengths to your advantage. When it comes to career advancement, being visible and memorable can make all the difference.

The Power of Reciprocity

To achieve power, we must leverage our resources and treat others fairly and politely. By offering something of value to others, we create a sense of reciprocity that compels them to help us in return. This could include anything from social support to menial tasks, and treating people fairly and respectfully can also earn us a great deal of gratitude. The key is to build a network of people who are willing to support us, regardless of their own political or ideological leanings.

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