Power: Why Some People Have It And Others Don’t

If my memory serves me correctly this book was more of an impulse buy while ordering some other books I wanted to read. The title intrigued me and after the first pages I realized it was not the kind of book I was expecting, but nevertheless I finished it and I was happy to have done so since it did contain some gold nuggets of information.

For anyone looking to extend their knowledge of how the structures of power work inside a traditional or typical hierarchical organization, this book is a must read.

Success began with preparation.

p. 1

bargaining leverage

p. 1

Systematic empirical research […] being politically savvy and seeking power are related to career success and even to managerial performance.

p. 4

the managers primarily interested in power, were the most effective

p. 5

Your task is to know how to prevail in the politics battles you will face. My job in this book is to tell you how.

p. 5

power is part of leadership and is necessary to get things done […] power is part of leadership

p. 7

you must first get past three major obstacles. The first two are the belief that the world is a just place and the hand-me-down formulas on leadership that largely reflect this misguided belief. The third obstacle is yourself.

p. 8

Many people conspire in their own deception about the organizational world in which they live. That’s because people prefer to believe that the world is a just and fair place and that everyone gets what he or she deserves.

p. 8

“just-world hypothesis” […] from early childhood “we learn to be ‘good and in control’ people”

p. 9

leaders overemphasize their positive attributes and leave out the negative qualities and behaviors.

Two other factors help ensure that the positive stories persist. Those in power get to write history, to paraphrase an old saw.

p. 12

diagnostic skill

p. 13


p. 13

the biggest single effect I can have is to get people to try to become powerful.

p. 14

Others aren’t worrying or thinking about you that much anyway. They are mostly concerned with themselves.

p. 14

except for certain laws in the physical sciences, we live in a world of probabilities.

p. 15

Turn knowledge into practice

p. 15

Just like the principle of compound interest, becoming somewhat more effective in every situation can, over time, leave you in a very different, and much better, place.

p. 17

performance doesn’t guarantee success.

p. 20

If you are going to create a path to power, you need to lose the idea that performance by itself is enough. And once you understand why this is the case, you can even profit from the insight.

p. 22

Not only may outstanding job performance not guarantee you a promotion, it can even hurt.

p. 24

That’s because CEOs like to put loyalists in senior positions – regardless of what past incumbents have accomplished.

p. 25

You need to be noticed, influence the dimensions used to measure your accomplishments, and mostly make sure you are effective at managing those in power

p. 26

The importance of standing out contradicts much conventional wisdom […] the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

p. 26

“the mere exposure effect”


repeated exposure


familiarity produces preference

p. 27

What you can do is consistently emphasize those aspects on which you can do well.

p. 28

and asking for assistance, in a way that still conveys your competence and command of the situation, is an effective way of flattering those with power over you.

p. 30-31

the above average effect

p. 31

The last thing you want to do is be known as someone who makes your boss insecure or have a difficult relationship with those in power.

p. 33

The research literature shows how effective flattery is as a strategy to gain influence.


being likable helps build influence



p. 33

you driving ambition and even your great performance are not going to be sufficient to assure success in a typical hierarchical organization

p. 35 the word to highlight here is typical, as is the case of the entire book, the typical hierarchical organization

hones his ability to forge interpersonal relationships

p. 37

“I would stand and approach the interviewer as they approached me, making eye contact, shaking their hand before they shook mine, sitting in a slightly dominant position through the course of the interview,” […] “All of this was done to convey that I had some level of power in the room”

p. 38

focusing on what you need to change to accomplish future personal goals can be much more uplifting than going back and reviewing past setbacks or considering areas of weakness.

p. 40

he understood little about political dynamics inside companies – and because of that, he did not know what he did not know.

p. 41 It’s always important to know what it is that you don’t know.

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance.”

p. 42

The two fundamental dimensions that distinguish people, who rise to great height and accomplish amazing things are will, the drive to take on big challenges, and skill, the capabilities required to turn ambition into accomplishment. The three personal qualities embodied in will are ambition, energy, and focus. The four skills useful in acquiring power are self-knowledge and reflective mindset, confidence and the ability to project self-assurance, the ability to read others and empathize with their point of view, and a capacity to tolerate conflict.

p. 43

Success requires effort and hard work as well as persistence.

p. 43

“Daley realized early in life that he desired power, and he was willing to wait patiently for the opportunity to exercise it. He spent three decades toiling quietly at the routine jobs of urban machine politics.”

p. 43 referring to Richard Delay, former mayor of Chicago. You could argue that Trump did the same thing waiting patiently for his opportunity.

“The bee is an oddity of nature. It shouldn’t be able to fly, but it does. Every time I see that bee out of the corner of my eye, I am reminded to keep pushing for the impossible.”

p. 44 Jill Barad, Matell CEO about the bumblebee. Nature provides us all the inspiration we will ever need. Kind of reminds me of the Being There movie

First, energy, like many emotional states such as anger or happiness, is contagious. Therefore, energy inspires more effort on the part of others.

p. 45

has his personal assistant schedule exercise time for him – a lifestyle influence on energy that implies that even people who have demanding jobs and travel a lot can eat and exercise in ways that enhance their capacity for hard work.

p. 46

Put some dried grass out in the sun and nothing happens, even on the hottest day. Put the dried grass under a magnifying glass and the grass catches on fire. The sun’s rays, focused, are much more powerful than they are without focus. The same is true for people seeking power.

p. 46 Focus, focus, focus.

genius requires a large number of hours […] it is true, by definition, that you can acquire those hours in less elapsed time if you focus your attention more narrowly.

p. 47 in other words practice doesn’t make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect

his practice of structured self-reflection

p. 48

the discipline of writing fostered reflection and also imprinted the insights more forcefully into his consciousness.

what leadership habits he thought made him effective […] making notes about decisions, meetings, and other interactions and reflecting on what he had done well or poorly so that he could improve his skills.

There is no learning and personal development without reflection […] the discipline to concentrate, make notes, and think about what you are doing.

p. 49

you need to seize control of the situation […] Because power is likely to cause people to behave in a more confident fashion, observers will associate confident behavior with actually having power. Coming across as confident and knowledgeable helps you build influence.

p. 50

If you aren’t confident about what you deserve and what you want, you will be reluctant to ask or push, and therefore you will be less successful in obtaining money or influence compared to those who are bolder than you.

p. 51

Empathetically accurate perceivers are those who are consistently good at “reading” other people’s thoughts and feelings. All else being equal, they are likely to be the most tactful advisors, the most diplomatic officials, the most effective negotiators, the most electable politicians, the most productive salespersons, the most successful teachers, and the most insightful therapists.

p. 52

If you can handle difficult conflict – and stress-filled situations effectively, you have an advantage over most people.

p. 53

Kawamata’s rude and coarse behavior had a purpose: “It was . . . a power play.”

p. 54

the correlation between intelligence and income was .2

p. 55

had and excellent position within the bank’s communication network, with access to both critical information and key people.

p. 59

So if you want to move up quickly, go to underexploited niches where you can develop leverage with less resistance and build a power base in activities that are going to be more important in the near future than they are today.

p. 60

Finance had staff people ensconced in every plant, gathering information and seeing what was going on, and to ensure loyalty to finance […] Finance moved talented people into other areas of the company to extend its influence

p. 64

building common bonds of communication and trust that come through shared experiences. Speaking with one voice, being able to act together in a coordinated fashion, is an important source of departmental power and effectiveness. That’s why the military evaluates leaders in part on the cohesion of their units and why coaches of team sports work so hard to build unity of action and purpose.

p. 65

Around the beginning of the 1900s, entrepreneurs held the CEO positions. Then manufacturing and production became the most common backgrounds for corporate leaders: with the emergence of the large-scale industrial enterprise and national markets, solving production and engineering issues were the most critical tasks companies faced. Starting in the 1920s and into the 1930s, CEOs tended to come from marketing and sales, as selling products and services, rather than producing them, became a more important challenge. And finally, beginning in the 1960s and then increasingly in the 1970s and 1980s, CEOs came out of finance. This change reflected the growing power of the capital markets, the consensus that shareholder value was the most important measure of organizational success, and the need for companies to build strong relationships with the financial community.

p. 66

both also benefited mightily from being at the right place at the right time. […] strategic thinking

p. 68

It is always useful to be able to diagnose the political landscape, whether for plotting your next career move or for understanding who you need to influence to get something done. […] Skill at diagnosing power distribution is useful.

p. 68

a study of salaries of the most senior executives […] revealed that in Germany, the head of research and development was the best paid; in Japan, it was research and development and human resources; while in the United States, it was finance. These relative pay levels speak to the power of the different departments and show how that department power varies across countries.

p. 69

he would accept the offer on one condition – he and I would have dinner once a year at the same restaurant […] That way, he was guaranteed access to the top.

p. 75

the worst that could happen from asking for something would be getting turned down. […] They would not be any worse off than if they had not asked in the first place. […] at least with asking, there was some hope.

p. 77

Asking often works.

p. 77

Asking for help is something people often avoid. […] The problem is that people underestimate the chance of others offering help. That’s because those contemplating making a request of another tend to focus on the costs others will incur complying with their request, and don’t emphasize sufficiently the costs of saying no. Rejecting an appeal for help violates an implicit and socially desirable norm of being “benevolent.” Would you rather be known as generous or stingy?


people underestimate others’ compliance with requests

p. 78-79

few things are more self-affirming and ego-enhancing than to have others, particularly talented others, seek out aid. […] If you make your request as flattering as possible, compliance is even more likely.

p. 80

ask them in a way that enhanced their feeling of self-esteem.


lowered the cost of agreeing […] People love to give advice as it signals how wise they are

p. 81

Robert Cialdini in his best-selling book, Influence, illustrates how effective flattery can be in getting others on our side. Asking for help is inherently flattering, and can be made even more so if we do it correctly, emphasizing the importance and accomplishments of those we ask and also reminding them of what we share in common.

p. 82

In advertising, the concept of standing out to become memorable is called “brand recall”

p. 85

the rules tend to favor – big surprise – the people who make the rules […] Gladwell described research that shows how playing by the rules – following conventional wisdom – in arenas ranging from sports to war favor the already more powerful


when the underdogs understood their weakness and used a different strategy to minimize its effects, they won some 64 percent of the time, cutting the dominant party’s likelihood of victory in half. […] When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win.

p. 86

Machiavelli […] The Prince, although it is desirable to be both loved and feared, if you have to pick only one, pick fear if you want to get and keep power.

p. 87

Machiavelli’s advice anticipated research in social psychology about how we perceive others. That research found that the two virtually universal dimensions used to assess people are warmth and competence. Here’s the rub: to appear competent, it is helpful to seem a little tough, or even mean.

p. 87 reminds me of what the book Compelling People is all about in a nutshell

“Brilliant but Cruel” […] nice people are perceived as warm, but niceness frequently comes across as weakness or even a lack of intelligence.

p. 87

‘people may oppose you, but when they realize you can hurt them, they’ll join your side’

p. 87

There is lot of evidence that people like to be associated with successful institutions and people

p. 88

people’s support for you will depend as much on whether or not you seem to be “winning” as on your charm or ability

p. 88

cognitive dissonance, which argues that people seek to avoid inconsistency

p. 90 referring to Leon Festinger’s

standing out […] Asking for what you need

p. 91

In virtually all organizational domains, controlling access to money and jobs brings power.

p. 92

having resources is an important source of power only if you use those resources strategically to help others whose support you need.

p. 92

“Follow the money” as they uncover power structures in governments and communities.

p. 93

People with money or with control over organizational money get appointed to various for-profit and nonprofit boards where they are in contact with others who have business and investment ideas and social and political influence.


It’s and old but accurate and important story: power and resources beget more power and resources. Your task is to figure how to break into the circle.

p. 94

Getting control of resources is an important step on your path to power.

p. 95

It’s important to be able to see or even create opportunities that others may miss – and even more important to have the patience and persistence to follow through on those opportunities.

p. 96

A resource is anything people want or need – money, a job, information, social support and friendship, help in doing their job. There are always opportunities to provide these things to others whose support you want. Helping people out in almost any fashion engages the norm of reciprocity- the powerful, almost universal behavioral principle that favors must be repaid. But people do not precisely calculate how much value they have received from another and therefore what they owe in return. Instead, helping others generates a more generalized obligation to return the favor, and as a consequence, doing even small things can produce a comparatively large payoff.

p. 97

being polite and listening

p. 97

Being nice to people is effective because people find it difficult to fight with those who are being polite and courteous.

p. 98

attending birthday parties, funerals, going to lunch with people whose help you want, visiting them or their family members when they are ill.

p. 98

most people like to talk about themselves – give them the opportunity to do so […] being a good listener […] use a resource everyone has – time and attention – to build power.


if you don’t have much power, you probably have time. Use that time to befriend others and go to events that are important to them.

p. 98

Taking on small tasks can provide you with power because people are often lazy or uninterested in seemingly small, unimportant activities. […] these apparently minor tasks can become important sources of power.

p. 99

“Contacts ultimately mean contracts”

p. 104

Power accrues to people who control resources that others cannot access.

p. 104

finding speakers, organizing meetings, making connections, and creating venues where people can readily meet others, learn interesting things, and do business

p. 105

Bringing people together entails your taking on a brokerage role and becoming central in social network. […] the networks you create are an important resource for creating influence.

p. 105

Roizen’s success was built on her intelligence and business competence combined with her ability to build strategic social relationships – to network – both inside and outside her employers.

p. 106 referring to Heidi Roizen

everyone can benefit from developing more efficient and effective social networks and honing networking skills.

p. 107

Many of the positions Roizen had held . . . entail bringing together different parties who would otherwise not be in contact.

p. 108

social capital


Networking affected career satisfaction, concurrent salary, and salary growth over time, with the two most important networking behaviors being “maintaining external contacts” and “building internal contacts.”

p. 110

salience. You can’t select what you can’t remember, and that includes professional advisers, candidates for leadership positions, or job applicants.


Networking makes you more visible; this visibility increases your power and status; and your heightened power and status then make building and maintaining social contacts easier.

p. 111

Networking actually does not take that much time and effort. It mostly takes thought and planning. Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone . . . People are going to eat and exercise anyway – why not use that time to expand your network of contacts?

p. 113

When he began this network, it consisted of one person.

p. 114

Another barrier that seems to stand in the way of networking is that people naturally fall into habits, and one habit is interacting with the same set of people all the time. […] go out of your way to meet new people.

p. 115

It’s also the case that both organizations and people are known by the company they keep – so it behooves you to associate with high-status people. This simple fact has interesting consequences, for it means that you cannot readily move down the status food chain to take advantage of opportunities if you don’t want to risk losing your own status. Joel Padolny, a sociologist who was former dean of the business school at Yale and currently heads Apple University, asked an interesting question about investment banks: because high-status investment banks have cost advantages deriving from their status (as just one example, they can raise money at lower cost than lower-status and presumably riskier banks), why don’t they dominate the market for both equity and debt securities, over time taking away most of the business from their lower-status competitors? His answer, from an empirical study of the investment banking industry, is that higher-status banks are constrained from “moving down” and capturing more of the market because in doing so, they would have to associate with lower-status securities issuers and, as a result, lose at least some of their status advantage.

p. 117-118

One way to acquire status is to start an organization that is so compelling in its mission that high-status people join the project and you build both status and a network of important relationships.

p. 118

People like to bask in reflected glory and associate with high-status others.

p. 119

not just from the extensiveness of your network and the status of its members, but also from your structural position within that network. Centrality matters.

p. 119

control over the flow of information […] what proportion of others in your work, for instance, nominate you as someone they go to for advice. […] Another way of assessing centrality is to ask what proportion of all communication links flow through you.

p. 120

bridging the structural holes that exist between noninteracting groups.

p. 121

your ability to create and leverage social ties depends in part on how others perceive you. And those perceptions depend in part on your ability to speak and act with power.

p. 124

“I told” and “I caused”


Observers watching people who don’t deny or run away from their actions naturally presume that the perpetrators don’t feel guilty or ashamed, so maybe no one should be too upset. This phrasing also communicated power

p. 126 referring to Lt. Colonel Oliver North when he testified in congress

expressing anger is usually much more effective than expressing sadness, guilt, or remorse in being as seen powerful

p. 128

We choose how we will act and talk, and those decision are consequential for acquiring and holding on to power.


the secret of leadership was the ability to play a role, to pretend, to be skilled in the theatrical arts. Rubin is right. Differences in the ability to convey power through how we talk, appear, and act matter in our everyday interactions, from seeking a job to attempting to win a vital contract to presenting a company’s growth prospects before investment analysts.

p. 128

But the world isn’t always a just place. […] we need to master how to convey power. We need to act, and speak, with power.

p. 129

Authority is 20 percent given, 80 percent taken.

p. 130

emotions are contagious


another individual exposed to the smile would be happier and also have a positive attitude toward a product

p. 131

One principle is to act confident

p. 131

when meeting with someone – turn the cell phone off and put it away – the effect is powerful.

p. 132

Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America did – call people of the phone or go meet with them in person – you have much more influence and will be much more memorable – and powerful.

p. 133

people who express anger are seen “as dominant, strong, competent, and smart”

p. 133

A bad temper is a very powerful political tool because most people don’t like confrontation.

p. 135

Another set of studies supported the stereotype that men are expected to be more dominant and women more affiliative, so men are expected to show more anger then women.

p. 135

Self-deprecating comments and humor work only if you have already established your competence. […] “Don’t be so humble; you’re not that great.”

p. 136

physical attractiveness results in higher earning.

p. 136

To display the emotion you need to show, go within yourself to a time and event when you did feel the emotion you need to project at that moment.


acting, including acting with power, entails tapping into your authentic feelings but just from a different time and place

p. 137

Displaying several sometimes conflicting emotions at once

p. 137

Breathe and take time to collect yourself – you will be much more effective than if you just rush into the situation.

p. 139

“Let me finish.” He refuses to be interrupted and in several other instances talks over the lawyers and legislators questioning him.

p. 140 again referring to Oliver North but it has to be attributed to Donald Trump as well with his “Excuse me!”

one way in which someone in a dominant position can leverage that influence is to question and challenge the basic assumption that underlie another person’s account.


how the company is competing, how it is measuring success, what the strategy is, who the real competitors are now and in the future

p. 141

Language that influences is able to create powerful images and emotions that overwhelm reason.


Words suggesting common bonds cause the audience to believe that you share their views.

In addition to using words that evoke emotions and signal common interests and shared identity.

p. 142

Max Atkinson describes a number of conventions that make speech more persuasive and engaging.

1. Use us-versus-them references.

2. Pause for emphasis and invite approval or even applause through a slight delay.

3. Use a list of three items, or enumerations in general.

4. Use contrastive pairs, comparing one thing to another

5. Avoid using a script or notes


use humor to the extent possible and appropriate . . . “If you make people laugh, you can tell them anything”. Humor is disarming and also helps create a bond between you and your audience through a shared joke.


Sentence structure is also important for making language persuasive. […] repetition can enhance a logical point or even the illusion of one when none is present.

Few people or organizations are going to fire a “genius” and be known for doing so. The lesson? Accomplishment matters, but so, too, does your reputation. […] build your image and reputation.

[…] Sometime reputation adheres to individuals, but sometimes individuals get a good reputation by their association with high-status institutions.


The fundamental principles for building the sort of reputation that will get you a high-power position are straightforwards: make a good impression early, carefully delineate the elements of the image you want to create, use the media to help build your visibility and burnish your image, have others sing your praises so you can surmount the self-promotion dilemma, and strategically put out enough negative but not fatally damaging information about yourself that the people who hire and support you fully understand any weaknesses and make the choice anyway. The key to your success is in executing each of these steps well.

p. 147-149

Social perception – how people form judgments of others, which is something we do continuously to successfully navigate the world

p. 149

attention decrement […] people don’t pay as close attention to later information as they do to information that comes early.

[…] When you first meet people, you are going to be quite attentive to what they say and do as you seek to learn about them and sort and assign them to categories, including how helpful and powerful you think they are or could be.

p. 151

cognitive discounting – once people have formed an impression of another, they disregard any information that is inconsistent with their initial ideas.


It is much easier to discount inconsistent information and seek data that buttresses out original assessments.


people engage in behavior that helps make their initial impressions of others come true.

p. 151

the audience almost to a person believed Varon was who he was introduced as being – and expert on human genomics

p. 152

We see what we expect to see


Impressions and reputations endure

p. 152

if you find yourself in a place where you have an image problem and people don’t think well of you, for whatever reason, it is often best to leave for greener pastures.

p. 153

you should try to put yourself in as many different situations as possible


the best practice is to widely disperse your network building efforts and build many weak ties.

p. 153

asked inquisitive questions […] he uses his intelligence and memory to build his reputation as being super smart

p. 155

Browne turned his shyness into a virtue. He carefully controlled his schedule. As a result, those who were lucky enough to get a meeting with him understood that each encounter was very important and high stakes. Browne turned even the ability to interact with him into a source of power – he controlled the scarce resource of his time. And he displayed his intellectual prowess during those meeting, Browne built a reputation for brilliance that served him well both inside and outside BP.

p. 155

from how you spend your time to what organizations and people you associate with

p. 155

Marcelo knew that he was not particularly qualified for the position


Marcelo built a three-pronged strategy. The first part entailed doing a lot of hard work and, to the best of his ability, delivering good results. The second was to build networks both inside and outside of the company […] the importance of creating a positive external image that would attract allies and support. […] cultivate the media as a way of becoming “better than he actually was” . . . and, by so doing, actually be better because of the effect of positive expectations and image on how he would be seen.


So Marcelo began writing articles about finance and management and sending them off to relevant Brazilian publications that wanted interesting content.

p. 156

The best way to build relationships with media people is to be helpful and accessible.

p. 157

Marketing expert Keith Ferrazsi recommends writing articles because it helps you clarify your thinking.

p. 159

get others, even those you employ such as agents, public relations people, executive recruiters and colleagues, to tout your abilities.

p. 160

The author was also perceived as more competent when another stated his abilities than when he did so himself.

What these studies show is that even though people understand the financially intertwined interests of people hired to act on your behalf, and even though they know that agents or intermediaries are under your control, they will still rate you more highly and offer more help than if you acted on your own.

Those who speak on your behalf also have their statements judged as more credible than when you make the same claims yourself.

p. 161

reports of his influence became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A great reputation can help you achieve great performance and vice versa.

p. 163

Because people come from different background, face different rewards, and see different information, they are going to see the world differently.


“Conflict is just an opportunity for another person’s education,” for exploring why people think the way they do, and for sharing perspectives so the parties to the conflict can learn about and from each other.

p. 167

one way to deal with opponents is to treat them well and leave them a graceful way to retreat. […] coopting others and making them a part of your team or organization carries the day by giving them a stake in the current system.

p. 168

You can turn enemies into allies, or at least people who are indifferent to you and not in your way, through strategic outplacement

p. 168

“Face” is important for people’s self-esteem. Giving adversaries something to make them feel better works to your advantage, particularly if the move doesn’t cost you that much.

p. 169

to think strategically about what we are really trying to do […] “What would victory look like? If you had won the battle, what would you want that win to encompass?”

p. 169

“It’s important to live to fight another day.”

p. 170

focus. You need to have a clear understanding of where you are going and the critical steps on the way.

p. 170

after you reach a certain level, there comes a point in your career where you simply have to make critical relationships work. Your feelings, or for that matter, others’ feeling about you, don’t matter. To be successful, you have to get over resentments, jealousies, anger, or anything else that might get in the way of building a relationship where you can get the resources necessary for you to get the job done.

p. 171

emotional maturity . . . it is crucial in surmounting and disarming opponents

p. 171

force of nature.

p. 172

Persistence works because it wears down the opposition. Much like water eroding a rock, over time keeping at something creates results. In addition, staying in the game maintains the possibility that the situation will shift to your advantage. Opponents retire or leave or make mistakes.


Nevertheless, not giving up is a precursor to winning.

p. 172

show people that siding with him was very much in their economic self-interest.

p. 174

Don’t wait if you see a power struggle coming.

p. 174

Serving on a publicly traded company’s board of directors provides prestige and money.

p. 174

Your path to power is going to be easier if you are aligned with a compelling, socially valuable objective.

p. 176

place your own objectives in a broader context that compels others to support you.

p. 177

Act as if – projecting power and success

p. 181

Situations are often ambiguous.

p. 181

You want to convey that everything is fine and under control, even under dire circumstances.

p. 181

People want to associate with winners.

p. 181

act as if you are going to triumph in the end.

p. 181

the ability to act as if you will win becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

p. 182

“There is no free lunch.”

p. 183

“social facilitation effect.” When you are in the presence of other people, even if they aren’t watching you, you are more motivated and on edge. […] The relationship between motivation and performance is curvilinear – positive up to some level as effort increases but then negative as increased tension decreases your ability to process information and make decisions.


simple repetitive motions such as those involved in assembly-line work benefit from social facilitation effect, while tasks entailing complex intellectual work, such as analyzing complex and multifaceted information to make a decision, are harmed.

p. 185

American CEOs found that they spent 11 percent of their time on corporate governance and administration, which includes investor presentations and conferences, quarterly conference calls, and the like.

p. 186

the “innovator’s dilemma, ” […] they seldom introduced the next generation of innovations in their industries, particularly when such innovations were disruptive to their existing business model. This reluctance to innovate occurred even though the large, dominant players typically had the intellectual and financial wherewithal to bring the new technologies to market and in many instances had discovered or develop the new ideas themselves.

p. 187

Building and maintaining power requires time and effort […] The quest for power often exacts a high toll on people’s personal lives, and although everyone bears some costs, the price seems to be particularly severe for women.

p. 189

virtually every advanced industrialized country with the exception of France has a below-replacement-level birth rate.

p. 190

the higher you rise in an organization, the more people are going to tell you that you are right. This leads to an absence of critical thought and makes it difficult to senior leaders to get the truth . . . as you can’t address problems if you don’t know about them.


placed a lot of emphasis on the process by which decisions got made – particularly, the use of data and analytics

p. 192 That’s why the Ray Dalio method is so effective

Barbarians at the Gate

p. 193

When the adrenaline rush ceases, there is a visceral, physiological reaction.

being out of work “represents loss of a social role and all the things that go with it”

p. 195-196 in talking about the the loss of power that most CEO have

“No matter what the original intentions and aspirations, eventually power goes to everyone’s head.”

Studies of the effect of power on the power holder consistently find that power produces overconfidence and risk taking, insensitivity to others, stereotyping, and a tendency to see other people as a means to the power holder’s gratification.

p. 200

Overconfidence and insensitivity lead to losing power, as people become so full of themselves that they fail to attend to the need of those whose enmity can cause them problems. Conversely, not letting power go to your head and acting as if you were all-powerful can help you maintain your position.

p. 201

Having a position of formal authority or even being right is not going to win you the support of those whose mistakes you have called out.

p. 203

“What you have to do is every now and then expose yourself to a social circle that really doesn’t care about your position.”

p. 203

Lee Kuan Yew, the longtime prime minister of Singapore, came to power by latching on to a pro-communist movement, usurping its rhetoric, and seizing control of it. Once in power, he turned on his communist allies, not only discarding them but in some instances jailing them.

“First, we had to get rid of the British . . . . To do that, you had to mobilize support from the widest possible group and get as big a majority of the population as you could . . . . First, you’ve got to get power. Then, having got power, you say, ‘What’s the problem? Have I said these things? If so, let’s forget it.’ “

p. 205

“Actions speak louder than words.”

p. 206

to solidify your relationships with people who are important to your ability to do and keep your job


to keep his composure and outward demeanor of charm

p. 207

the leadership skills of the “new” CEO – […] are listening, paying attention to multiple constituencies, and displaying less arrogance than CEOs got away with in the past.

p. 210

Companies and leaders can fail to see the changes in the social environment that can make old ways less successful than they once were. The tendency of power to diminish the power holder’s attention and sensitivity to others with less power compounds this problem. The combination of diminished vigilance and changed circumstances often leads to the loss of power.

p. 211

“leave before the party’s over”

p. 212

the organizational dynamics

p. 213

political struggles are more likely to occur and to be more fierce and power is used more often when resources are scarcer and therefore there is more struggle over their allocation

p. 215

be particularly wary and sensitive to what is occurring during times of economic stress.

p. 215

Reciprocity works both ways.

p. 216

employers and their leaders have told their employees that they themselves are responsible for their own careers and, in many instances, their own health care and retirement.

p. 217

mastering the concepts and skills of power and influence.

p. 217

I have had entrepreneurs tell me they wanted to create businesses free of organizational power dynamics, but there is evidence that suggests this is impossible. So the original question posed at the beginning of this chapter – “Is all of this political behavior good for the organization?” – may be irrelevant because these processes are ubiquitous in the social interaction.

p. 218

hierarchy is ubiquitous in animal societies – even among fish!


there are contest for dominance among all animals that travel or congregate in groups


Informal leaders with more influence emerge even if groups are just engaged in pleasurable social interaction such as discussing a book or going on an outing.


all organizations create hierarchies and the very existence of hierarchy means that there will be competition for who occupies higher-status positions.

p. 219

Status, however derived, tends to generalize across the environments in which we interact.


people assume that if you are smart enough to succeed in one highly competitive domain, you must be competent in other, even unrelated domains as well.


The second fact about hierarchies is that people seem to prefer them.

p. 220

If hierarchy is a fact of organizational life and, in fact, apparently preferred by people, then hierarchical arrangements will be omnipresent. When hierarchy exists, at least some proportion of people are going to want to enjoy the benefits of holding higher – rather than lower-status positions within hierarchies. Consequently, striving for status and power is going to be common in organizations and, because of its foundation in a hierarchical social order that people desire, will be impossible to eliminate.

p. 221

entreprise resource planning application


the premium for execution is going up.

Getting thing done under circumstances where you lack direct line authority requires influence and political skills – a knowledge of organizational dynamics – not just technical skills and knowledge.


first, do excellent quality work, which entails hiring and effectively leading outstanding talent. And second, understand the organizational dynamics – how different people perceive things, what their interests are, how to make a persuasive case, and how to get along with people and build effective personal relationships.

p. 222

We seems to like markets and democracies for societies, but prefer more dictatorial arrangements inside organizations. […] the imperial CEO


you need to master the knowledge and skills necessary to wield power effectively.

p. 225

“Eighty percent of success is showing up”

p. 227

we tend to like doing things we are good at doing. Once you engage in activities, including activities involved in acquiring power, those things become part of your identity and repertoire of skills. Don’t give up before you begin.

p. 228

John Kotter told me that he thought for many people, the biggest obstacle to success was not talent or motivation but the fact that they were in the wrong place

p. 229 as Jim Rohn used to say, if you’re in the wrong place you can move you’re not a tree

you need to claim power and not do things that give yours away.

p. 230

If you feel powerful, you will act and project power and others will respond accordingly.

p. 230

one of the ways in which you can claim power in through your demeanor and voice – how you come across.

p. 231

When we tell ourselves that our problems are caused by others, we spend time on why we can’t be successful. When instead we focus on what we can do, we spend time on being successful.

p. 232

It is much more difficult for others to take away your power if you aren’t complicit in the process.

p. 232

People who are complicit in their own beheading don’t garner much sympathy or support.

p. 233

People align with who they think is going to win. If you don’t stand up for yourself and actively promote your own interests, few will be willing to be on your side.

p. 234

it’s often the little things that matter.

p. 234

power and political processes in organizational are ubiquitous


Organizational politics is everywhere.

p. 235

“If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”

p. 236 Scoop Nisker, Bay Area radio personality

seek power as if your life depends on it. Because it does.

p. 236