[DEEP SUMMARY] - Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't- Jeffrey Pfeffer

[DEEP SUMMARY] - Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't- Jeffrey Pfeffer


Here is a summary of the key points in Jeffrey Pfeffer's book Why Some People Have Power—and Others Don’t:

  • Power and influence are critical for career success. People motivated by and skilled at obtaining power tend to rise higher than those focused solely on performance.

  • Being politically savvy, building networks, and taking action to increase influence are vital strategies for gaining power.

  • Anne's story demonstrates how someone with initially weak position power could obtain a CEO role through preparation, building relationships, strategic action, and determination.

  • In contrast, Beth did not focus on gaining power and influence. Though talented, she struggled to advance her career and attain leadership roles.

  • Organizational life involves competition for scarce positions of power. Rivalry is intense, and some people may bend rules or act unethically.

  • To succeed, be prepared to build your power and influence, even if the realities of organizational politics seem unsavory. With determination and savvy, power is attainable.

  • The belief that the world is fair and can hinder the ability to learn from all people and situations, even those we dislike. It prevents us from seeing the need to build power proactively.

  • People tend to think that if they do good work, things will take care of themselves. But there are often political factors and landmines that can undermine careers.

  • The "just world hypothesis" states that people believe good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. This makes the world seem predictable and controllable.

  • But it also leads to blaming victims and rationalizing people's success, even if undeserved. Experiments show people stigmatize innocents who were randomly punished.

  • Recognizing this effect is the first step. You need to learn from all people and situations, even unsavory ones, and proactively build your power base, not assume things will work out.

  • Formulas on leadership often reinforce the belief the world is fair. You need to reject simplistic virtues and be Machiavellian in acquiring power.

  • Overcoming internal obstacles like guilt and fear is also crucial. Be resilient and persistent in seeking power.

  • Leadership literature often glosses over or ignores the power plays and politics successful leaders used to reach the top. The typical advice about being modest, authentic, and concerned for others describes how we wish leaders behaved, not how most gain power.

  • Believing the world is fair can close your eyes to the political realities of organizations. You must be vigilant and proactive to ensure your success.

  • People handicap themselves to protect their self-image, providing excuses for poor performance instead of trying to succeed. Overcome this tendency in yourself.

  • Advice on gaining power will only sometimes work perfectly in some situations or for some people. Focus on the probabilities and try out tactics to build skills.

  • Passively reading advice won't help you gain power - you must actively practice and model the behaviors of influential people. Turn knowledge into action.

The key is to reconsider assumptions about power in organizations, stop handicapping yourself, and proactively try the techniques even if they initially feel uncomfortable. Practice builds skill.

  • Good job performance does not guarantee you will maintain a position of power or avoid organizational difficulties. Leaving career success purely to chance by relying only on your accomplishments is a mistake. It would help if you managed your career actively.

  • There must be a more vital link between job performance and career outcomes like performance evaluations, job tenure, and promotions. Politics, relationships, and other factors often matter more.

  • Managers tend to rate subordinates they favored hiring more highly than ones they inherited or opposed hiring, even controlling for objective performance.

  • Past performance gets discounted and has little effect on career outcomes. Relationships and allies matter more.

  • You must keep your boss and influential people happy and manage well, even if your performance declines. Avoid upsetting your boss.

  • Poor performance only sometimes leads to job loss if you maintain support from the right people. But good performance won't save you if you alienate those with power.

  • To gain power you need to lose the assumption that accomplishments alone are sufficient and actively work to build relationships and political capital. Understand and exploit the weak link between performance and outcomes.

  • Great job performance does not guarantee promotions or raises. Studies show performance often has only a tiny effect on advancement. Other factors like tenure, credentials, relationships etc. matter more.

  • Outstanding performance can even hurt advancement. Bosses may not want to lose a great performer from their team or see them as suited for more senior roles.

  • Poor performance does not necessarily lead to job loss, especially for CEOs/executives. Power and connections often matter more.

  • To advance, you must be noticed by those in power. Quiet, heads-down work needs to get attention. It would help if you made your achievements known.

  • Due to the "mere exposure effect", being memorable increases your chances of being selected for advancement. Familiarity breeds preference.

  • Define how your performance is measured. Play to the dimensions valued by those in power. Tina Brown increased buzz but not profitability - which metric matters more?

  • Manage up effectively. Enhance the ego and serve the agendas of those above you. This increases support for your advancement. Skill at managing superiors is crucial.

In summary, advancement requires visibility, defining success on your terms, and skill at managing those in power - not just objectively outstanding performance. You must work the system, not just do your job well.

Here are a few key points from the passage:

  • Performance has many dimensions, and what matters most to your boss may not align with what you think is essential. Ask regularly about their priorities.

  • Make those in power feel good about themselves. Criticizing bosses, especially on areas they are insecure about, often backfires.

  • Flatter bosses and those with power. Compliments make people like you more and feel obligated to reciprocate.

  • Loyalty and agreeing with those above you are powerful. Consistently communicate you are on their side.

  • Relationships with bosses matter as much or more than objective performance. Avoid contentious interactions.

  • Define success on dimensions that favor you. Highlight accomplishments on criteria critical to your boss.

  • Divert attention from flaws/problems by blaming external factors. Don't implicate boss's competence.

The key is to understand and fulfill what matters to those with power over you, make them feel self-confident, flatter them, build relationships, and shape how your performance gets evaluated.

Here are a few key points from the passage:

  • People can develop the personal qualities needed for power and influence later in life. It's always possible to learn new skills.

  • To develop yourself, you first need an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. This is challenging because we naturally want to think well of ourselves.

  • Focus on developing the most essential qualities for building power, like empathy, confidence, listening skills. You can only work on some things, so prioritize.

  • Admitting you need to improve takes humility. But being open to feedback is critical for personal growth.

  • Influence comes from developing genuine relationships, not just manipulating people. Build trust and rapport with modesty.

  • Mentors can provide guidance, support, and sponsorship. Seek out role models who exemplify the qualities you want to cultivate.

  • Keep working to improve yourself throughout your career. There may need to be more than the skills that brought past success for future influence.

The key is believing you can change, getting objective feedback, and focusing on the most important interpersonal skills for gaining genuine, lasting influence with others. Consistent development brings growth.

Here are the key points about the personal qualities that build power:

  • Ambition - A drive for achievement and influence helps overcome obstacles and setbacks. Influential people are willing to work hard and sacrifice to accomplish their goals.

  • Energy - Boundless energy inspires others, signals importance, and leads to getting more done. Influential people have tremendous drive and stamina.

  • Focus - A relentless focus on goals allows tuning out distractions and overcoming frustrations. Influential people stay committed to their objectives.

  • Self-knowledge - Understanding one's strengths, weaknesses, and biases provides the self-awareness to develop further. Admitting ignorance allows for improvement.

  • Confidence - Projecting self-assurance inspires others' confidence. Powerful people believe in themselves and their abilities.

  • Reading others - Understanding others' perspectives and emotions enables influence. Powerful people empathize and connect.

  • Tolerating conflict - Not taking disagreements personally allows productive debate. Influential people engage opposition skillfully.

  • Intelligence is less important beyond a fundamental level. More critical are ambition, focus, interpersonal skills, and resilience.

  • Energy and the ability to work long hours is an advantage in gaining power and influence. Research shows that "laborious preparation" contributes significantly to achievement and mastery. Having the energy to put in long hours helps you build expertise faster.

  • People often promote those with energy and the ability to work hard, seeing it as a signal of organizational commitment and loyalty.

  • Focusing your efforts narrowly - on a particular industry, company, or set of functional skills - also helps build power. Depth of expertise and relationships in a narrow area provides more leverage.

  • Self-reflection through techniques like keeping notes and journals helps build self-knowledge and improves personal effectiveness over time. Reflection leads to learning and development.

  • Displaying confidence allows you to seize control and influence without formal authority. People associate confidence with having power and are more likely to defer to those who behave confidently.

  • Showing confidence is essential for gaining power, but women are often socialized to be more respectful and less assertive. Research shows women work longer and harder for less pay, award themselves lower salaries, and have lower expectations than men. This puts them at a disadvantage in negotiations.

  • Empathic understanding - putting yourself in another's place - helps acquire power. It helps you gain support rather than opposition. Laura Esserman learned this when she closed down a mammography service, causing opposition and gaining support for her real goals.

  • The capacity to tolerate conflict can give you an advantage, as many avoid conflict. Leaders like Rahm Emanuel and Rudy Giuliani have effectively used aggressive, sometimes rude behavior to intimidate and get their way.

  • Intelligence is overrated for gaining power. It correlates somewhat with academic success but needs more ability to explain who rises to the top. Other factors like ambition and willingness to take risks are more critical.

  • Where you begin your career affects how quickly you advance and how far you can go. Influential departments provide better platforms for career growth.

  • Common mistake is to start in the core, most powerful unit, where competition is fierce. Better to exploit niches where you encounter less resistance.

  • Example 1: Zia Yusuf rose to executive VP at SAP despite having no tech background. He started in peripheral units - SAP Markets and then corporate consulting team - and gained leverage with less resistance.

  • Example 2: Rick Wagoner became CEO of GM though he started in HR and strategic planning, not auto engineering. He built connections with senior leaders while in less prominent roles.

  • Key is to locate where you can develop leverage and connections without facing intense competition. Start in activities peripheral now but central in future. Build network before seeking formal power.

  • Zia Yusuf went from being a banker to a senior leadership role at SAP, a large software company, in less than a decade without an engineering background.

  • Yusuf led SAP's corporate strategy group (CCT) and later their ecosystems unit, helping the company transition to selling to smaller enterprises and building an app developer ecosystem.

  • His analytical and financial skills became critical as SAP faced increased competition in the ERP market and needed to focus more on marketing, pricing, and partnerships.

  • Yusuf's career followed a similar path to the "Whiz Kids" like McNamara who rose to power through Ford's finance department after WWII with their analytical skills.

  • Sources of departmental power include: unit cohesion like the Whiz Kids had; providing critical resources like money or skills; and solving critical organizational problems.

  • As competitive conditions change, different functions gain power by providing the resources and skills the company most critically needs. Finance rose in the 1960s-80s as shareholder value became paramount.

  • Diagnosing departmental power within an organization can help understand politics and influence. No single indicator is definitive, but looking at multiple factors together can provide insights.

  • Relative pay levels for entry-level and senior roles offer clues about departmental power. Higher pay suggests more power and prestige.

  • Physical location and facilities signal power. Departments seen as more powerful tend to be closer to executives and have more excellent offices. As power shifts, offices get reassigned.

  • Representation on committees and boards, as well as backgrounds of senior executives, indicate relative power. If finance is the primary internal function represented, it wields significant influence.

  • Joining a robust department provides career advantages but also means facing more competition from other talented people. Pioneering a new domain involves more risk but less competition initially.

  • There is a tradeoff between joining an established power center versus trying to stand out in a less prominent area. Personal preferences and risk tolerance play a role.

  • Asking for what you want often works - people are likelier to say yes than expected. Be bold and ask.

  • People are uncomfortable asking for help or favors because they fear rejection, want to be self-reliant, and underestimate the chances of success.

  • But turning down requests in person can be awkward, and people want to be seen as benevolent and generous. So the chances of getting a "yes" are higher than many realize.

  • Asking for small favors first can make it easier to get agreement on more extensive requests later. Look for opportunities to help others as well.

  • Taking the initiative to introduce yourself and start building relationships, rather than waiting to be noticed, is vital to standing out positively.

  • Being willing to break some rules, like Reginald Lewis did in insisting on going to Harvard Law, can demonstrate determination and pay off in reaching your goals.

  • A bit of healthy selfishness and self-promotion is necessary to get where you want to go in your career. Don't be afraid to put yourself forward.

Here are the key points:

  • Asking for help or favors from others is often uncomfortable, but people are more likely to say yes than we expect. Research shows we underestimate how willing strangers and acquaintances are to comply with requests.

  • Asking is flattering - people are flattered to be asked for advice or help as it affirms their importance. Framing requests to emphasize the wisdom and accomplishments of who you are asking makes them more likely to say yes.

  • Even small connections can help - people are more likely to agree to requests from those they share even minor connections with like a birthday or name. Pointing out what you have in common builds rapport.

  • Don't be afraid to stand out, especially early in your career when you must differentiate yourself from the competition. Be bold and promote yourself even if it goes against cultural norms about modesty. Success requires learning to overcome reluctance to self-promote.

  • Mentors and sponsors are vital to advancing your career. Seek them out proactively, especially those with influence and power. Make it appealing by showing your talent and motivation and making it accessible by defining concrete ways they can help you.

In summary, be bold in asking for help and promoting yourself to stand out and advance, even if it feels uncomfortable. The people who get ahead are often those most comfortable engaging in some self-promotion.

Here are the key points:

  • Likability is overrated when it comes to gaining power and influence. Research shows competence is more important than warmth in how people are perceived.

  • Being too nice can make you seem weak or unintelligent. Some negative traits like toughness can make you appear more competent.

  • According to Machiavelli, it's better to be feared than loved if you have to choose just one. People will join your side if they think you can hurt them.

  • Power creates likability - people want to associate with successful and influential people and institutions, known as the "basking in reflected glory" effect.

  • Likability fluctuates with perception of success. When people win, they are more likable, but likability drops when they hit obstacles.

  • Communication is more important than competence in gaining influence and getting hired. The most qualified person will often be chosen over the most likable.

In summary, likability can help create power initially but is less important than competence. Once power is gained, it often leads to more likability as people want to associate with the powerful. So likability should allow you to do what is needed to gain power and influence.

  • Controlling money and jobs is a significant power source in organizations, including government, corporations, and nonprofits.

  • People and departments that control more resources have more power. This can be seen in examples like campaign contributions influencing politicians' votes, CEO pay correlating with company size, and investment bankers' influence fluctuating based on their contribution to profits.

  • Once you have resources, maintaining power becomes self-reinforcing. Those with money get appointed to boards, meet influential people, and hire talented staff to help them succeed.

  • Implications: Choose jobs controlling budgets and staff. Get involved with initiatives central to the organization's strategy and bottom line.

  • Even if you lack resources, you can gain influence by solving pressing problems. Become indispensable by volunteering for unpopular but necessary tasks.

  • Form alliances with those who have resources. Trade your expertise for access to money, staff, information.

  • Overall, gain resources however possible, as they convert directly into organizational power. But lacking resources doesn't prevent gaining influence through other means.

  • Resources like jobs, money, information, and social support are sources of power that people want or need. You can build a power base by accumulating control over these resources bit by bit over time.

  • You can start from a low position. There are ways to build a resource base even from an entry-level job.

  • Doing small things for people engages the norm of reciprocity - they will feel obligated to repay favors. Small acts like politeness, listening, attending events, and helping with mundane tasks can generate goodwill.

  • Paying attention to people and listening to them talk about themselves is an easy way to provide something of value.

  • Taking initiative on minor tasks that others need to look into or want to do can give you power, as people are unlikely to challenge you over small things.

  • You gain leverage and influence as you accumulate control over jobs, money, information, etc. But this gradual process requires patience and persistence in creating and seizing opportunities.

Here are the critical points in summarizing the advice about building efficient and effective social networks:

  • Networks provide access to information, resources, and opportunities. Build networks purposefully with people who can help you achieve your goals.

  • Prioritize networking with influential people. Leverage existing relationships to gain introductions. Offer value to make networking mutually beneficial.

  • Build diverse networks that bridge disconnected groups. Brokerage positions allow you to control flow of valued resources.

  • Maintain networks through genuine personal relationships. Don't just reach out when you need something. Show interest in helping others.

  • Extend your networks through the networks of people you know. Meet their contacts to expand your circle of connections.

  • Participate actively in networks by sharing information and opportunities. Generosity and reciprocity build social capital.

  • Build networks inside and outside your organization to increase visibility and access diverse resources.

  • Online networking complements in-person relationship building. Use social media thoughtfully to develop and maintain connections.

The key ideas are to be purposeful in building networks with influential people who can provide access and opportunities, cultivate genuine mutually beneficial relationships, and strategically occupy brokerage positions that allow control over valued resources. Both online and in-person networking are essential for developing social capital.

  • Heidi Roizen is an example of someone who succeeded in high-level software and technology jobs through solid networking skills, despite not having a technical background. Her career included roles at Apple and venture capital firms.

  • Networking involves behaviors aimed at building, maintaining, and utilizing informal relationships for mutual benefit. Key networking behaviors include building and maintaining contacts inside and outside one's organization and using those contacts to access information, advice, and other resources.

  • Many jobs, especially those involving bridging across organizations or functions, rely heavily on networking skills. But evidence shows networking boosts performance, promotions, and satisfaction across roles.

  • Networking builds visibility and access to information, resources, and influence. This can create a virtuous cycle where networking leads to more excellent status, which enables more networking.

  • While people vary in networking skills, there is evidence these skills can be taught and learned. Training can help people diagnose networking gaps and become more intentional about developing social capital.

  • So networking ability, separate from technical expertise, can explain career success for many. Developing networking skills can benefit anyone seeking to build their career.

  • Networking is essential for career success, but some people need to spend more time on it. It doesn't require much effort - simple things like having lunch with contacts or sending holiday cards can effectively maintain relationships.

  • You should be strategic in your networking efforts. Make a list of people and organizations it would be helpful to meet and work your way down it—target relationships with high status people who can introduce you to others.

  • Network with the right people - "weak ties" who are acquaintances outside your immediate circle are more likely to provide new information and connections. Have an extensive network across different industries and locations.

  • Don't spend too much time with any one person. The most valuable interactions are brief, not deep, friendships. The goal is to expand your network and not have lengthy conversations.

  • Help others in your network and provide value to them. Share information and contacts, make introductions, offer advice. This encourages reciprocity.

  • Networking is about building social capital that provides information, influence, and solidarity. This can enhance job performance, facilitate career changes, and reduce the chances of job loss.

  • Build diverse social ties, not just close personal relationships. You want an extensive network with connections to high-status and influential people. Don't worry if the ties are not extremely close.

  • People and organizations are judged by the company they keep, so associating with high-status people can increase your status. The high status makes it hard to "move down" to take advantage of other opportunities without losing status.

  • Centrality in a network - being connected to many people and communicating through you - provides power and influence. You can increase centrality through physical location and controlling communication flows.

  • Connecting otherwise disconnected groups provides power by bridging "structural holes." Individuals who connect groups gain access to non-redundant information and control the flow between groups.

  • Occupying brokerage positions and bridging structural holes is advantageous for promotions, salary, and attainment.

In summary, to gain power build a large, diverse network with high-status connections, increase your centrality within the network, and connect otherwise disconnected groups.

Here are the key points from the examples of Oliver North and Donald Kennedy:

  • Oliver North acted and spoke with power during the congressional hearings - He defended his actions by appealing to a higher purpose, took responsibility without embarrassment, and used language that conveyed he was in charge

  • Donald Kennedy appeared weak, guilty, and dependent on others during the hearings

  • He used long, convoluted sentences, answered questions indirectly, admitted embarrassment, and looked very uncomfortable

  • Their contrasting performances likely reflected intentional choices in how they presented themselves, not just personality differences

  • North chose to express doubt and righteous anger, while Kennedy aimed for contrition

  • How leaders choose to act and speak has significant consequences for their perceived power and ability to acquire and hold onto leadership roles

Here are a few critical points about acting with power:

  • Even if you aren't entirely sure of yourself, projecting confidence can help you gain power and authority. As Andy Grove said, "Deception becomes a reality." Acting confident can make you more confident over time.

  • Be aware of your audience and put on the performance they expect or need. Leaders like Gary Loveman radiate energy and intensity in front of employees to convey leadership. Even in everyday interactions, be "on stage."

  • Display anger instead of sadness or remorse when establishing dominance. Research shows anger conveys high status, strength, and competence. Rahm Emanuel strategically uses his temper to intimidate. Anger can help influence peers when your actual power is ambiguous.

  • Control your emotional expressions. Don't let anger consume you. Combative behavior can undermine relationships and derail negotiations if overdone.

  • Use eye contact, body language, voice, and other nonverbal cues to project confidence and establish dominance. Practicing powerful poses can boost testosterone and change hormone levels.

  • Master the ability to perform different roles convincingly, like Atoosa Rubenstein described. Adapt your image and style to what the audience expects and needs.

The main point is that how you act, appear, and present yourself significantly impacts your power and influence, even if actual authority is limited. Mastering self-presentation is key.

  • Research by Larissa Tiedens shows that expressing anger confers more status and power than expressing sadness or remorse. Angry people are seen as more competent and are more likely to be deferred to by others.

  • This effect holds even when controlling for other factors, as shown in studies using actors portraying politicians. An "angry" politician was seen as a better leader than a "sad" politician expressing remorse.

  • At work, employees who expressed more anger were seen as better role models and potential leaders compared to those who expressed sadness.

  • However, there is some evidence that the power of anger may differ by gender. Angry women are sometimes conferred less status than angry men. But the research is mixed on whether gender moderates the effects of anger.

  • Beyond emotions, power can be conveyed through posture, gestures, clothing, and physical settings. Standing tall, facing people, and dressing well signal confidence and status.

  • Skilled actors can learn to display powerful emotions by accessing memories of times they genuinely felt those emotions.

  • Leaders can set the stage to their advantage by managing the physical context of important meetings and interactions.

Here is a summary:

The most effective way to win people over and get them to accept you as their leader is to take your time, think through your words, and speak with confidence and composure. Prepare well for important presentations, but also know how to collect yourself and pause when speaking spontaneously. Use persuasive language that paints vivid imagery, identifies common interests, and contrasts ideas in your favor. Employ techniques like pausing for effect, listing three key points, and speaking without notes to convey mastery and spontaneity. Articulate the premise and rules of the interaction to guide the conversation subtly. You can inspire others to follow your lead if you speak thoughtfully and powerfully.

  • Reputations matter greatly, as they can influence hiring, promotions, and perceptions of performance. Being seen as a "superstar" gives you more leverage in negotiations.

  • First impressions form quickly (within milliseconds) and are remarkably accurate in predicting more durable evaluations. This makes early impressions very important.

  • First impressions tend to be persistent. Processes like primacy effects, cognitive consistency, biased scanning, and recall of information help explain this persistence.

  • To build a strong reputation: make a good first impression, carefully shape your desired image, use media for visibility and image-building, have others praise you for overcoming the self-promotion dilemma, and reveal some weaknesses strategically.

  • Executing each reputation-building step well is key to success in amassing power through your reputation.

  • First impressions form quickly and are difficult to change due to several psychological processes:

  1. Attention decrement - People pay less attention over time, so early impressions carry more weight.

  2. Cognitive discounting - People discount later information inconsistent with initial impressions.

  3. Self-fulfilling prophecies - People's behavior reinforces initial impressions, making them come true.

  4. Biased assimilation - People reinterpret later information to be consistent with initial beliefs.

  • Because first impressions are so persistent, it is often better to start fresh in a new setting rather than try to repair a damaged image in the same place.

  • You should think strategically about the reputation you want to build and then conduct yourself accordingly. Carefully craft your image along the dimensions that will be useful.

  • Build your image proactively through the media. Positive media coverage can enhance your reputation and attract support, even if you are still fully qualified for a role.

  • Overall, make a concerted effort to build a robust and favorable reputation early on, as this will pay dividends and be hard to change later. Disperse your reputation-building efforts widely rather than banking on one context.

Here is a summary of the key points about the effect of positive expectations and image on how Marcelo would be seen:

  • Marcelo understood that journalists appreciate help doing their jobs, so he began writing finance articles and sending them to relevant publications. This built his credibility over time as more articles were published.

  • He volunteered for media interviews about his company when colleagues saw it as distracting. This allowed him to connect with important media contacts in Brazil and gain stature within his company.

  • When given a senior leadership role at a young age, Marcelo had already learned the importance of media relationships. He continued writing articles, giving interviews, and building his reputation.

  • This media exposure led to Marcelo being featured as a "CEO of the Future" in a top business magazine before age 30. The positive image and visibility enhanced his chances of becoming a CEO.

  • The lessons are to cultivate relationships with media, be helpful and accessible, and have an early image-building strategy through writing and public relations. This can build your visibility and create a positive reputation early in your career.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Opposition and setbacks are inevitable, even for talented and hardworking people. How you respond is what matters.

  • Laura Esserman faced opposition to her vision for a breast cancer center, including lack of budgetary control and a culture focused more on research than patient care.

  • She persisted and overcame the opposition. By 2009, she had created the integrated facility and systems she envisioned.

  • To overcome opposition, understand others' perspectives, and have difficult conversations. Avoiding conflict is irresponsible in a leadership role.

  • Choose battles carefully and focus energy where it will make the most difference. Understand stakeholder interests and build coalitions.

  • Laura evolved her leadership approach to be less impatient and more collaborative. She built support among stakeholders.

  • Setbacks and mistakes are opportunities to learn. Analyze setbacks to see what went wrong and improve.

  • Persist in the face of setbacks. Absorb the lessons, adjust, and keep working toward your goals. With hard work and resilience, progress can still be made.

Here are some critical points for dealing with disagreements and avoiding difficult situations:

  • Use a gentle approach and give people a graceful way out. Seeking to dominate often backfires.

  • Don't create unnecessary problems. Stay focused on your primary goals. Don't get dragged into irrelevant battles.

  • Don't take opposition personally. Focus on making meaningful relationships work regardless of personality.

  • Rely on data and logic to depersonalize difficult situations.

  • Be persistent. Keep at your agenda and wait for shifts in your favor. Opponents may leave or make mistakes.

  • Compromise when needed to make progress. Partial victories build momentum.

  • Know when to cut losses and live to fight another day. Some battles are not worth winning.

  • Build coalitions and alliances to increase support. There is strength in numbers.

  • Use persuasion, reason and steady pressure rather than aggression.

  • Keep communicating. Silence breeds suspicion and hesitation undermines momentum.

The key is balancing resolve with flexibility - being open to graceful exits for opponents but persistent in moving your agenda forward through reason, relationships, and strategic compromise when necessary. Avoid unnecessary conflicts but don't fear essential disagreements.

Here is a summary:

  • Esserman and Brown faced setbacks in making change, but persevered by building support and influence through multiple avenues over time.

  • Modi seized the initiative in Indian cricket by moving quickly to oust opponents and use rewards/punishments to shape behavior.

  • Frame your objectives as serving a compelling, socially-desirable purpose to gain support more efficiently.

  • Most successful people encounter setbacks but recover through perseverance, learning, and the support of allies. Sonnenfeld overcame false accusations by steadfastly maintaining his innocence and having a solid network of supporters.

  • Setbacks are common in careers. Learn from failures, be resilient, and persist in pursuing your goals. Build a reputation and network to aid in recovering from inevitable obstacles. Stay focused on your more significant purpose.

Here are a few key points about the costs and tradeoffs that come with pursuing and attaining power:

  • Visibility and public scrutiny - Powerful people attract more attention and face greater public scrutiny, which can be uncomfortable and feel like a loss of privacy.

  • Sacrificing personal life - Pursuing and maintaining power often require sacrifices in one's personal life, relationships, and family time. This can lead to strained relationships and missed life experiences.

  • Managing expectations - With power comes high expectations and responsibility. Meeting the often unreasonable demands of shareholders, voters, or followers can be stressful.

  • Handling criticism and unpopularity - Powerful people inevitably make decisions that lead to criticism, opposition, and unpopularity. Dealing with constant criticism is difficult.

  • Letting go of power - Relinquishing power and transitioning to less influential roles can be psychologically challenging for some leaders.

  • Ethical compromises - The pragmatics of power may lead to ethical compromises that clash with one's values. This can create inner moral tension.

In summary, the costs of pursuing and holding power are actual and should be carefully weighed before seeking positions of authority and influence. The scrutiny, expectations, criticism, and sacrifices required can extract a personal toll.

  • Holding a position of power means increased public scrutiny on all aspects of one's life, not just job performance. This makes doing one's job more difficult.

  • The social facilitation effect shows that the presence of others increases motivation but can decrease performance on complex tasks requiring new learning.

  • Visibility requires time on impression management, distracting from one's job. CEOs spend 11% of time on governance/investor relations, as much as operations.

  • Scrutiny pressures people to avoid risks and innovation to "look good", even if harmful long-term.

  • With power comes a loss of autonomy over one's schedule and time. Demands from others overwhelm me.

  • Building and maintaining power requires significant time and effort, often at the expense of personal relationships and family life. This toll seems especially severe for women.

In summary, the costs of increased visibility, loss of autonomy, and time demands are high for those seeking and holding positions of power. These downsides must be weighed against the potential upsides.

  • Achieving power and success in one's career often requires tradeoffs in one's personal life. Historical examples show successful women like Elizabeth Blackwell and Constance Baker Motley devoted themselves entirely to their careers while their spouses provided support at home.

  • This "two-person single career" dynamic continues today, where one spouse supports the other's career. Many successful career women are unmarried, childless, or have husbands who take on a more supportive role.

  • Pursuing a high-powered career reduces time spent with family and friends. But some accept this tradeoff as the cost of achieving power and status.

  • The higher one rises, the more rivals there are for your position. This creates an environment of mistrust and constant vigilance to protect one's power.

  • Power can become addictive, as one gets used to the status, perks, and thrill of influence. Those who achieve great power may find it difficult to let go.

  • In summary, some high costs and tradeoffs come with seeking and maintaining power and status in one's career. Sacrifices in one's personal life and constant mistrust are inevitabilities at the highest levels of power.

Here are the key points about how and why people lose power:

  • Overconfidence, disinhibition, and ignoring the interests of others are common pitfalls that cause power holders to lose their positions. Power often leads to overly self-assured behavior, reduced inhibition, and neglect of others' needs.

Other dangers are out of touch with reality and not getting good information. Influential people become isolated in a bubble and don't receive honest feedback.

  • Alienating key constituents is disastrous, as power requires maintaining the support of critical stakeholders. Arrogance and failure to attend to critical allies' interests undermine one's power base.

  • Ethical lapses and scandals frequently bring the mighty down. Abuse of power for personal gain or violating morals valued by the public lead to falls from power.

  • Failure to groom successors and develop the next generation creates vulnerability. Allowing subordinates to become threats rather than advancing them is a mistake of the powerful.

  • Rigidity and failure to adapt to a changing context is fatal. Inflexibility prevents appropriate responses to new challenges and environments.

  • Allowing rivals to coordinate and challenge together is unsafe. Preventing collective opposition is crucial to maintaining power.

In summary, staying powerful requires vigilance against these common pitfalls to avoid the inevitable loss of power over time. Self-awareness, adaptation, inclusiveness, and ethical behavior help leaders retain power and avoid rapid downfalls.

  • Power can change how people think and behave, leading to stereotyping, seeing others as a means to an end, and lack of empathy. Studies show even a tiny amount of power over others can lead to rude, disrespectful behavior.

  • Overconfidence from power causes insensitivity and lack of attention to others' needs, which can cause the loss of power when others become hostile. Maintaining perspective and connection to those less powerful can help retain influence.

  • Powerful people often become less vigilant and trusting of what others tell them. This makes them vulnerable to being deceived and losing power. For example, in the Bank of America / NationsBank merger, the Bank of America CEO trusted false promises and lost his position.

  • To gain power, people may make assurances they later break once in power. Trusting their promises can be dangerous. Staying attuned to political dynamics and not relying unthinkingly on assurances can help the powerful maintain their positions.

  • Powerful people often become overconfident and stop paying attention to threats, which makes them vulnerable to being overthrown. Lee Kuan Yew maintained power in Singapore by staying vigilant against opponents.

  • Being in a high-profile position requires patience in dealing with critics. Rudy Crew lost his job by being impatient, while Mitch Maidique lasted decades at Florida International University by keeping his composure.

  • Obtaining power takes energy. Tony Levitan got tired from leading a start-up and left, allowing new leadership to push him out.

  • Tactics that once worked, may fail as contexts change. Robert Moses should have recognized growing public sentiment and lost influence. Companies can get trapped relying on once-successful strategies.

  • The keys are to stay vigilant of threats, be patient with critics energized about responsibilities, and be adaptable to changing conditions. Influential people fail when they become overconfident, impatient, tired, or inflexible.

Here are the key points:

  • Power struggles and political behavior tend to increase when resources are scarce, such as during economic downturns. The departures at Venrock venture capital firm occurred during a time of shrinking investment and poor returns in the industry.

  • Senior executives often lose power struggles, but political dynamics also affect lower-level employees. An HR professional was laid off due to a lack of support after the hired CEO retired.

  • Organizations often do not reciprocate loyalty and can readily abandon commitments to employees, such as eliminating pensions, health benefits, and jobs through layoffs or offshoring.

  • The employer-employee relationship has changed over the past few decades, with organizations showing less commitment to job security and employee well-being.

  • Employees should thus focus on building their power and career capital rather than relying on organizational reciprocity. Power dynamics are simply the nature of organizational life.

  • However, using power appropriately and ethically is vital for individual and organizational success. The book aims to guide on obtaining power legitimately and using it responsibly.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Companies have told employees they are responsible for their careers, health care, and retirement. Employees should use any means to ensure organizational survival, including mastering power and influence skills.

  • Avoiding organizational politics is impossible because hierarchy and resulting power dynamics are ubiquitous in organizations and social groups. Research shows hierarchies emerge even in informal groups, and people seem to prefer hierarchies.

  • With hierarchy comes competition for higher-status positions. Striving for status and power is familiar and impossible to eliminate in organizations.

  • Influence skills help get things done, especially in matrixed organizations or project teams where you need more direct authority over the people you need to accomplish tasks. Power skills enable effectiveness when responsibility and authority are mismatched.

In summary, the passage argues that developing power and influence skills is justified and necessary given the self-reliance expected of employees, the inevitability of hierarchies and resulting power dynamics in organizations, and the need for influence when responsibility exceeds formal authority. The passage encourages using power skills for organizational survival and effectiveness.

Here are a few key points from the passage:

  • Building power does not require dramatic actions or brilliance. Often it is about seizing opportunities, filling voids, and building relationships.

  • The problem with heroic leadership stories is that they seem unattainable to ordinary people. But increasing your power is possible for anyone in any role.

  • Don't give up before trying. Find the right place, given your interests and aptitudes. Some roles, like project manager, require more political skills.

  • Start small with low-risk opportunities to practice wielding power and influence. See if you enjoy it before fully committing.

  • Power skills can be developed over time. Few people can drastically change their nature, so build on your strengths and interests.

  • Be authentic. Use power to advance causes you to care about, not just for personal gain. People respond better to sincere conviction.

The key is to start small, try wielding influence in low-risk settings, develop skills over time, find roles that fit your nature, and use power authentically to advance meaningful causes. With practice, increasing power is very achievable.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • To build a path to power, pick an environment that fits your interests, aptitudes, and preferences. Be brutally honest in assessing yourself and the political risks of the job.

  • Don't give away your power through your behavior and demeanor. Claim power by acting strategically and not playing the victim. Make sufficient effort to build yourself up.

  • Take care of yourself, and don't expect justice. Don't expect others to do it for you if you don't defend your power and position.

  • Build alliances and networks. Connect with mentors and sponsors who can provide advice and aid your advancement.

  • Master organizational knowledge to understand decision processes, politics, and culture. Observation, asking questions, and analyzing who controls essential resources provides insight.

  • Develop a reputation for competence, character, and being a team player. Deliver results, be ethical, and contribute to groups.

  • Obtain visibility through assignments, introductions, and self-promotion. Make sure the right people know about your accomplishments.

  • Be patient and persistent. Gaining power takes time. Keep striving.

The main points are to assess your fit realistically, proactively claim power through your behavior, avoid giving your power away unnecessarily, take care of your interests, build alliances and knowledge, contribute results, build your reputation, gain visibility, and persist over time. Power requires deliberate effort.

  • Beheading people does not tend to generate much sympathy or support. It is seen as an extreme, unjustified act.

  • Taking care of yourself sometimes requires acting in ways that may seem selfish, like promoting your interests. The woman in the nonprofit should have seized an opportunity to gain influence because she valued collaboration too much.

  • If you stand up for yourself, only some others will. It will help if you build your path to power actively.

  • Pay attention to small tasks and opportunities that can provide resources, visibility, and relationships. These can give you an advantage over time.

  • Seeking power is worth the effort because controlling your work environment is linked to better health outcomes. So build your path to power as if your life depends on it because it does.


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