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Why Some People Have It – and Others Don't


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Learn how to develop and wield power, for your own good.

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  • Applicable


If power corrupts, why does everyone lust after it and worship those who have it? Power – used wisely – can keep you healthy, make you rich and let you achieve great things for humanity. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior, explains why seeking power is in your best interest and shows you how to attain power and keep it. He debunks the objections you usually hear from the powerless and the powerful alike. He lays out a step-by-step guide on how to start building your power, what you’ll need and, most important, what it’ll cost you to achieve. getAbstract recommends Pfeffer’s somewhat-less-than-Machiavellian, but still useful, book to anyone who ever has felt powerless in work or in life and wants to power up.


Truth to Power

Power has a bad rap. Scores of overweening politicians, underhanded businesspeople and crafty leaders abuse power while promoting their own interests at the expense of others. Many people shy away from the pursuit of power, seeing it as a distasteful, self-aggrandizing climb to rewards that may not be as alluring as they appear. Yet seeking power is common in all societies and endemic to all cultures; in fact, social scientists call power a “fundamental human drive.”

If you’re unsure about why you should aspire to power, consider these three reasons:

  1. “Power is related to living a longer and healthier life” – Studies show that those with less power and influence over their working lives have higher mortality rates. Less power brings stress and ill health; greater control “prolongs life.”
  2. “Power...can produce wealth” – High status and visibility lead to higher pay and career advancement opportunities. Although not every powerful individual chooses to cash in, more power can mean more money.
  3. “Power is part of leadership” – To accomplish almost anything for yourself or for others...

About the Author

Jeffrey Pfeffer is a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University.

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