A reading club with a view to the future

517 Jeffrey Pfeffer: Power

“Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t” explores the dynamics of power in the workplace and provides insights into how individuals can gain and leverage power to achieve their goals. The book challenges common assumptions about power and offers practical strategies for developing and using power effectively.



"Power" delves into the nature of power and its impact on individuals' success in organizations. Jeffrey Pfeffer draws on extensive research and real-world examples to illustrate how power operates in various contexts. The book uncovers the myths surrounding power, emphasizes the importance of building personal influence, and offers actionable advice for navigating power dynamics in the workplace.


  1. Title: "Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't" 
  2. Author: Jeffrey Pfeffer 
  3. Publishing Year: 2010 
  4. Publisher: HarperBusiness 
  5. Length in Hours: 8 hrs and 4 mins

5 main ideas

  1. Power Is Essential: The book asserts that power is a fundamental force in organizations and plays a crucial role in achieving personal and professional success. It dispels the notion that power is negative or solely associated with manipulation and demonstrates how individuals can acquire and use power ethically.
  2. Building Personal Influence: The book emphasizes the importance of building personal influence as a foundation for power. It explores strategies such as networking, developing expertise, and cultivating strong relationships to enhance one's influence and expand their sphere of power.
  3. Mastering Political Skills: The book highlights the significance of political skills in navigating power dynamics. It explores tactics such as managing relationships, reading organizational cues, and effectively managing conflict to gain and maintain power.
  4. Overcoming Barriers: The book addresses common barriers to acquiring power, such as gender bias, organizational politics, and structural constraints. It provides insights and strategies for overcoming these barriers and harnessing power.
  5. Using Power Wisely: The book discusses the responsibilities and ethical considerations associated with power. It emphasizes the importance of using power for the benefit of both individuals and organizations, promoting fairness, and creating positive change.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Having power is like having a superpower - you can bend the rules without breaking them."
  2. "Power is like a spice; a little goes a long way, but too much can ruin the dish."
  3. "Gaining power is like solving a puzzle - you need to find the right pieces and fit them together strategically."
  4. "Power is like a well-tailored suit; when you wear it confidently, people take notice."
  5. "Acquiring power is like climbing a mountain; it requires determination, strategy, and a good pair of hiking boots."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Power is the currency of the world; to be successful, you must be powerful or seek to become powerful."
  2. "Power is about getting things done and achieving objectives. It is about making things happen."
  3. "Being nice may be helpful, but it is not sufficient to acquire and maintain power."
  4. "Powerlessness corrupts just as much as power does, but it also corrupts differently."
  5. "Power is not about force; it is about understanding and using the rules of the game."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing Personal Ambition with Ethical Use of Power: Navigating the tension between personal goals and ethical considerations when acquiring and using power.
  2. Managing Power in Hierarchical Organizations: Understanding how power dynamics operate in hierarchical structures and effectively managing power relationships.
  3. Negotiating Power in Cross-functional Teams: Dealing with power struggles and establishing influence in cross-functional teams where power may be distributed unevenly.
  4. Overcoming Powerlessness: Developing strategies to overcome powerlessness and increase personal agency and influence in challenging environments.
  5. Addressing Power Imbalances: Recognizing and addressing power imbalances in the workplace to create a more inclusive and equitable organizational culture.

5 examples

  1. Elon Musk: The book explores how Elon Musk has leveraged his visionary leadership and influential status to exert power and drive innovation in multiple industries.
  2. Indra Nooyi: The book examines Indra Nooyi's ascent to power as the former CEO of PepsiCo, highlighting her strategic leadership and ability to navigate complex power dynamics in a global organization.
  3. Steve Jobs: The book delves into Steve Jobs' charismatic leadership style and his use of power to shape Apple's success and revolutionize the technology industry.
  4. Angela Merkel: The book discusses Angela Merkel's political power as the Chancellor of Germany, analyzing her negotiation skills and ability to build coalitions to achieve policy objectives.
  5. Warren Buffett: The book examines Warren Buffett's influential power in the financial world, showcasing how his reputation and investment decisions have shaped markets and influenced other investors.

Referenced books

  1. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini.
  2. "The Prince" by Niccolò Machiavelli.
  3. "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu.
  4. "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene.
  5. "The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence" by Dacher Keltner.

Share a quote

"Power is like a spice; a little goes a long way, but too much can ruin the dish."

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