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This is an excellent book on how power is use in the workplace. Many of the examples echo experiences I've had in my career. I wish I had had the knowledge in this book year ago.
The negative reviews of this book say more about deficiencies in the reviewers than deficiencies in the book. This is a book about the – at best – morally ambiguous techniques people use to obtain and retain power. For many readers, the experience of having those techniques articulated is repugnant, and their reaction is to blame the messenger.
The sad fact is that at times power is achieved with dirty tricks. You’re better off knowing about these tricks; otherwise, you’ll be blindsided. For example, one case provided in the book was about an employee who was fired because she was too competent, and was a threat to her new boss. The exact same thing happened to me early in my career. And I’m not just relating my opinion of the case. A decade after the incident I encountered my boss’s boss on a flight I was taking. She apologized to me. In the months after my firing it had become clear that my boss was incompetent and was making up lies to protect herself.
It can be a cruel world out there. The information in this book can help you defend yourself.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Jeffrey Pfeffer and/or David Drummond?
I would not try another book from Jeffrey Pfeffer. For an academic with credentials like his he has to know he skates on thin ice with his examples and that half of the US public will react negatively to contemporary examples. Since he chose to use those examples anyway, instead of others from less emotional milieus that could have illustrated his points just as well, I have to conclude that he had at least one ulterior motive to this book. I don't care to support that kind of writing. I don't watch movies done by actors who overshadow the story with political statements, or listen to journalists who sell their political views by deceit and don't read authors who try to slip politics into books, either. The way that he chose to highlight his favorite political party with sycophantic valentines to them and damn his enemies with faint praise was very annoying and detracted from his major points. It was the equivalent of saying things like "the wife-beater got away with it in court because of his projection of confidence" on his enemies, then turning around and lauding one person who was disbarred from his home state's legal association, another who had recklessly killed someone and lied about it, and so more. Very irritating.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The way Mr. Pfeffer illustrated the health aspects of understanding power hit home. I listened to those points and forced myself to continue the book when it bogged down in tributes to his friends.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
The performance was fine, which I know means it was probably extremely skillful because business books do not lend themselves to interesting narration.
Who do you think would benefit most from listening to Power?
I think many people could benefit from the Clif's Notes and not have to put up with the irrelevancies.
Any additional comments?
Cialdini's book on Influence is the standard for this genre. The author should note Cialdini's neutral political examples and adjust accordingly. Obviously power is a political issue so one would have to use political examples, but why not 11th century Japan, ancient Rome or anything else that is not so emotionally charged as current politics?
13 of 20 people found this review helpful