If you’ve ever wondered what causes some executives to rise to the top while others flounder in middle management, the latest book summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries offers some unique insight. In Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, offers a set of standards that will no doubt prove controversial to some readers.
Pfeffer sits at the opposite end of the scale from his Stanford colleague Robert I. Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss. While Sutton offers readers advice on how to create a more collaborative, humane work environment, Pfeffer offers advice on how to win in the “real” world. This is the world where it pays to get noticed, where making the right connections to leverage one’s own career goals are more meaningful than a comfortable relationship with one’s direct reports.
Pfeffer doesn’t mince words. He is completely cognizant of the fact that his advice will cause many readers to feel uncomfortable. It says a great deal that one of the endorsements that adorns the book jacket of Power is from one of Pfeffer’s former students. She confesses that his advice made her quite uncomfortable. For some readers, the true discomfort will arrive when they look around and see that many of Pfeffer’s observations ring true.
To paraphrase a character in a play by George Bernard Shaw, Sullivan sees things as we’d want them to be. Pfeffer sees things as they are. The reader can choose which path to follow.