Byron's Babbles


Posted in Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 20, 2011

For my post this week I thought I would do something a little different and share my top ten highlights from what I consider the best book I read in 2011. The book is Power: Why Some People Have It – And Others Don’t by Jeffrey Pfeffer. I read this book a while ago, but I have found myself using or thinking about the content every day.

Here are my top ten highlights in no particular order:


  1. Get over yourself and get beyond your concerns with self-image or, for that matter, the perception others have of you. Others aren’t worrying or thinking about you that much anyway. They are mostly concerned with themselves. The absence of practice or efforts to achieve influence may help you maintain a good view of yourself, but it won’t help you get to the top.
  2. Power tends to produce overconfidence and the idea that you can make your own rules, and these consequences of having power often cause people to behave in ways that cost them their power and their position.
  3. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that good performance – job accomplishments – is sufficient to acquire power and avoid organizational difficulties.
  4. Therefore, your first responsibility is to ensure that those at higher levels in your company know what you are accomplishing. And the best way to ensure they know what you are achieving is to tell them.
  5. Being memorable equals getting picked…You can’t select what you can’t recall.
  6. “Feedforward,” which emphasizes what people need to do to get ready for the subsequent positions and career challenges they will confront…focusing on what you need to change to accomplish future personal goals can be much more uplifting than going back and reviewing past setbacks or considering areas of weakness.
  7. Launching or re-launching your career requires that you develop both the ability and willingness to ask for things and that you learn to stand out. People often don’t ask for what they want and are afraid of standing out too much because they worry that others may resent or dislike their behavior, seeing them as self-promoting. You need to get over the idea that you need to be liked by everybody and that likability is important in creating a path to power, and you need to be willing to put yourself forward. If you don’t, who will?
  8. Condoleeza Rice is right: people will join your side if you have power and are willing to use it, not just because they are afraid of your hurting them but also because they want to be close to your power and success. There is lots of evidence that people like to be associated with successful institutions and people – to bask in the reflected glory of the powerful.
  9. People give away their power by not trying. If you don’t try, you can’t fail – which protects our self-esteem. But not trying guarantees failure to win the competition for power and status.
  10. The best, most talented people want to work with those with the most power and resources, so those with access to important resources have advantages in hiring precisely the sorts of smart, hard-working individuals who can further their success. It’s an old but accurate and important story: power and resources beget more power and resources. Your task is to figure out how to break into the circle.

Now I am going to give you a bonus highlight: Scoop Nisker said “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” I thought this was one of the most meaningful sentences in the book. If we want power we must be out walking the talk and creating good news by taking risks and making things happen. If you want to finish the year with a strong read or start 2012 off with power, this book is for you.

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