If you’re going to play the game you should at least educate yourself on the unwritten rules. If you don’t, you’ll always be at a disadvantage.
In an NPR interview (audio below), Stanford business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer highlights why performance won’t get you promoted and why power corrupts.
Here are my notes on the audio interview:
1. Performance is elusive and thus can be shaped and managed;
2. You can do your job too well;
3. The world doesn’t work the way you want it to – the way to change it is to go out and make something happen;
4. Power corrupts — when you attain power you don’t think you have to follow the rules anymore;
5. When you’re in a position of power everyone is trying to curry your favor and you end up surrounded by sycophants;
6. Power can be converted into money;
7. Power gives you control over your work (time and pace);
8. You need power to get things done;
9. The more powerful you are the less people will be willing to forgive you;
10. Influence is power in action; and
11. You can have power or autonomy but not both.
Some of you might be skeptical of Pfeffer’s tactics; but he points out, that if the ends don’t justify the means then what does?
My favorite part of the interview was the quote from a newsman saying: if you don’t like today’s news, go out and make some of your own.
According to Pfeffer’s book Power: Why Some People Have It And Others Don’t, there are seven personal qualities that help to build power: ambition, energy, focus, self-knowledge, confidence, empathy with others, and capacity to tolerate conflict. Intelligence and high performance didn’t make the cut.
The book recommends a few simple steps you can take to increase your power:
1. Be visible;
2. Emphasize the aspects you’re good at;
3. Make those in power feel good about themselves;
4. If you must point out a mistake by someone in power, blame the situation or others; and
5. Shower those above with flattery.
If you’re really into learning more about power, check out The Prince.