Jeffrey Pfeffer: Why Cultivating Power is the Secret to Success | Summary and Q&A

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March 13, 2015
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Jeffrey Pfeffer: Why Cultivating Power is the Secret to Success

TL;DR

Power is often uncomfortable, but it is essential for success. Strategies to increase power include understanding power dynamics, building social relationships, leveraging resources, and networking effectively.

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Key Insights

  • 💦 Power is uncomfortable for many people as it challenges their beliefs about fairness and hard work.
  • ✊ Understanding power dynamics and identifying sources of power can help individuals navigate organizational structures.
  • ✊ Building social relationships, flattering influential individuals, and leveraging unexploited resources are practical strategies for increasing power.
  • 🖐️ Networking plays a crucial role in career success by providing access to non-redundant information and opportunities.

Transcript

power according to a Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the organization's last 30 secret it is however the secrets of success power is a subject that I think makes many people extremely uncomfortable they it violates their idea that the world is a just and fair place it violates their basic belief that people can get ahead just on the basis... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why do many people find the concept of power uncomfortable?

The notion of power challenges the belief that the world is just and fair and undermines the idea that hard work alone leads to success. It also involves actions, such as networking and flattering, that some may deem uncomfortable or insincere.

Q: What strategies can help individuals increase their power within an organization?

First, it is important to diagnose who holds power, both formally and informally. Then, individuals can work on getting closer to influential individuals by performing small tasks, building social relationships, and flattering them. Identifying and utilizing unexploited resources is another strategy.

Q: Why is networking crucial for career success?

Networking allows individuals to establish connections with influential people who can offer valuable opportunities, ideas, and social relationships. It helps in accessing non-redundant information and expanding one's professional network beyond familiar circles.

Q: How can individuals display emotions they may not genuinely feel in order to be successful?

As a leader, it is essential to be true to what the situation demands rather than focusing on personal authenticity. For example, when raising money as an entrepreneur, displaying confidence, even if feeling discouraged, is essential to inspire confidence in potential investors, customers, and recruits.

Summary

In this video, Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses the concept of power and its importance in organizations. She acknowledges that power can make people uncomfortable, as it challenges their belief that the world is fair and that success comes solely from hard work. Kanter believes that power is all around us and provides examples from everyday life to make this point. She emphasizes the need for individuals to reflect on how power has played out in their own lives and to develop specific strategies and actions to increase their effectiveness. Kanter also shares practical strategies for increasing power within an organization, such as identifying individuals with informal power, building social relationships, and effectively utilizing resources. She encourages people to step outside their comfort zones and engage in networking to connect with influential individuals and broaden their perspectives. Lastly, Kanter suggests that leaders should prioritize what the situation requires of them rather than solely focusing on being authentic.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why does the concept of power make many people uncomfortable?

The concept of power challenges people's belief that the world is fair and just, and that success is solely based on hard work. It also challenges their comfort zone in terms of networking, flattering people, and gaining control over resources. Power can seem counterintuitive and goes against the idea that people can get ahead solely based on their own efforts.

Q: How does Kanter help people understand the presence of power in their lives?

Kanter provides numerous examples from everyday life to make people realize that power is all around them, much like air, water, and gravity. She also encourages individuals to reflect on how power has played out in their own lives, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and thinking about specific strategies and actions they can take to be more effective.

Q: What practical strategies can people use to increase their power within an organization?

One strategy is to identify individuals with informal power, which may include assistants or secretaries. It is important to understand the real distribution of power within the organization and get closer to those with power by making their lives easier through small tasks, building social relationships, and offering flattery. Additionally, individuals should identify unexploited resources within the organization, such as budgets for speaker series or meals, which can help establish relationships and create opportunities for growth.

Q: Why do people find networking challenging?

Networking is often seen as key to success in organizations, but many people find it difficult or unnatural. Some may find it aversive or contrived, while others struggle to step out of their comfort zone. Kanter suggests assessing who individuals need to know in order to be successful within their industry and career, and reallocating time to focus more on building relationships with those people. Networking should involve meeting new people who provide different ideas, social connections, job opportunities, and networks outside of one's existing circle.

Q: What is the main objective of Kanter's teachings on power?

The main objective is to get people comfortable with doing things they may have thought they couldn't do. Kanter believes that once individuals try new strategies and actions, they often find out that they can do them and even enjoy them. Overcoming discomfort and embracing new approaches can lead to increased effectiveness and success.

Q: What is the role of a leader when it comes to displaying emotions?

According to Kanter, a leader's job is not to prioritize authenticity or staying true to oneself. Instead, a leader should prioritize what the situation requires. For example, if an entrepreneur is raising money and feeling discouraged, it is crucial for them to display confidence rather than signaling doubt or lack of confidence. Confidence is contagious and can inspire others to invest their human or financial capital, leading to success.

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Takeaways

In summary, power is an essential aspect of organizations, and understanding its presence and dynamics is crucial for success. Kanter's teachings emphasize the need for individuals to reflect on their own power dynamics and develop specific strategies and actions to increase their effectiveness. Practical strategies include identifying individuals with informal power, building social relationships, and utilizing unexploited resources within the organization. Networking, although challenging for many, is crucial for establishing new connections and accessing non-redundant information and opportunities. Additionally, leaders should prioritize displaying emotions that align with the situation's requirements rather than solely focusing on authenticity. Embracing discomfort and taking proactive steps to increase power can lead to personal and professional growth.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Power is a sensitive subject that challenges people's beliefs in a fair world, but examples and reflections can help to accept its presence.

  • Understanding power dynamics and identifying both formal and informal sources of power within an organization is crucial.

  • Building social relationships, flattering influential individuals, and exploiting unutilized resources are practical strategies to increase power.

  • Networking is essential for career success, and reallocating time to spend with influential people is important to acquire non-redundant information and opportunities.

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