Important but uncomfortable facts about power

“You can compete and even triumph in organizations of all types, large and small, public or private sector, if you understand the principles of power and are willing to use them,” according to Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book Power: Why Some People Have It – And Others Don’t. It is a message that sounds uncomfortably more like the philosophy of Nietzsche than that of Jesus, but the book provides plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the author is right.

Chapter 2 describes seven important personal qualities that build power: ambition, energy, focus, self-knowledge, confidence, empathy with others, and capacity to tolerate conflict. Subsequent chapters discuss how to start building a power base, how to build effective social networks, how to act with power, how to build a reputation, overcoming setbacks, the price of power, and how and why power is lost.

The book is written well, and what the author says about power seems true, but I would still feel uncomfortable in following some of his advice. Like Machiavelli, the author describes a path to power devoid of moral scruples. In my view, however, power is not a desirable end in itself, and power used for selfish purposes rather than for the benefit of others is power abused. Nonetheless, I recommend this book because of the important knowledge it contains.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *