Pfeffer (The External Control of Organizations), professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, posits that intelligence, performance, and likeability alone are not the key to moving up in an organization; instead, he asserts, self promotion, building relationships, cultivating a reputation for control and authority, and perfecting a powerful demeanor are vital drivers of advancement and success. The book has a realpolitik analysis of human behavior that isn’t for everyone but its candor, crisp prose, and forthrightness are fresh and appealing. Case studies feature the careers of such leaders as G.E. CEO Jack Welch, General George Patton, Time CEO and Chairman Ann Moore, Lt. Colonel Oliver North, and President Bill Clinton; and Pfeffer dispenses advice on how to overcome obstacles like “the self-promotion” dilemma, how to sharpen one’s “acting” skills on the job, and use tactics like interruption to appear more powerful. Brimming with frank, realistic insights on paths to the top, this book offers unexpected–and aggressive–directions on how to advance and flourish in an ever-more competitive workplace.
Is the need for power an evil motivation driven by greed and lust, or is it a worthy goal that produces wealth, longevity, and leadership? Pfeffer asks us to consider the more positive reasons that we reach for power in our professional lives in order to feel in control, get wealthy, and achieve our goals. The desire for power is a topic that is often overlooked or disparaged in most inspirational leadership books because leaders presenting their own careers as models tend to portray themselves as noble and good, and omit discussing the power plays that they used to get to the top. According to Pfeffer, we need to stop seeing the world as a just and fair place, and actively develop those qualities needed to achieve power. He offers advice on how to obtain the initial position on the first rung of the ladder to power, how to take advantage of social networks, build a reputation, and overcome setbacks. Pfeffer never answers the question as to whether power leads to happiness, but he insists that having it will ultimately put you in a better place. ~ David Siegfried