Review: Why some people have power and others don’t
Powerful people not only have more friends than the rest of us. They also enjoy better health and the visibility and stature that accompany power can produce wealth. Most of us will agree that power is part of leadership and is necessary to get things done.

head_w10_3In his new book on power, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business School starts by showing the weak link between performance and job outcomes. He lists CEOs who destroyed shareholders’ value and who remained in position and vice-versa. In fact great performance may even leave you trapped because a boss does not want to lose your abilities.

It is performance coupled with political skill, which will help you rise through the ranks. Those people who make it and who accomplish amazing things have will and skill. Will is defined by three personal qualities: ambition, energy and focus. The four skills useful in acquiring power are: self-knowledge, and
a reflective mindset, confidence and the ability to protect selfassurance, the ability to read others and empathize with their point of view and a capacity to tolerate conflict. The trick is also to find those departments that are on the rise, which are not necessarily those who produced the current big-wigs. Then you have to stand out and be bold - something which is again our nature, but it works. Secondly, build a network within your organization and outside (loose networks work). Thirdly be loyal. Pfeffer also gives some recipes on how to keep power once you won it and also describes some costs and treats involved, which finally result in how people lose power.

The book is very American in its approach eg. when it claims that it is not that difficult to use the ideas of the book to increase your power. Nevertheless it gives useful insights based on a combination of academic research and testimonials.

Power: why some people have it and others don’t, Pfeffer, Jeffrey HarperCollins,  New York, 2010, 271 p.

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