Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Wield Power at Work

By Dennis McCafferty on 2010-10-04

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac," Henry Kissinger once said. But how do you get it? You need a long-term, focused series of strategies, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of the new book, Power: Why Some People Have It - and Others Don't (HarperBusiness/available now). Pfeffer explores the techniques of power players like Kissinger, the Clintons, and Jack Welch to reveal common traits. For starters, none of these figures let daily distractions steer them off course. "It pains me to see talented people get left behind in a game where they don't know the rules to play successfully," Pfeffer says. "And it's worse to see them follow success tips based upon wishful thinking. Power is like any other kind of kinetic force - energy provides momentum. The effort required to succeed against opposition in addition to focus ensures that such energy is not diffused across too many people or objectives." Pfeffer is a professor of organizational behavior at the graduate school of business at Stanford University. For more about him and his book, click here.

Understand the Game
Professionals with "very good" performance ratings are only 12% percent more likely to be promoted than those who receive "good" ratings.

Be Brutally Honest With Yourself
"A man's got to know his limitations," said Dirty Harry. Don't pretend to have skills you don't

Get Out of Your Own Way
Don't volunteer or allow yourself to be volunteered for projects that will highlight on your shortcomings.

Satisfy Your Superiors
Find out what matters most to those who can give you more power, and make their agendas your agenda.

Deflect Credit Upward
Let the boss own success. Your role will be clear enough in time, and your managers will appreciate your grace.

Don't Be Too Modest
Highlight your accomplishments in appropriate ways when organizational plans are discussed.

Emerge as an Expert
Find opportunities to speak before work-related groups; gain visibility with a thoughtful blog or Twitter account.

Stroke Your People
Make those who work for you feel good about what they do. They'll perceive you as a leader and encourage your advancement.

Add Value
Angle for roles on high-profile projects with big payoffs for the company.

Act Like You Belong
Speak with authority. Be direct and firm, but not harsh, angry or easily rattled.

Embrace a Crisis
Problems are chances to show off your leadership IQ by staying cool and focused upon the task at hand.

Choose Your Battles
Professionals increase power when they are willing to walk away from an opportunity if terms fall short of their needs.

Don't Give Power Back
Appeasement leads to more demands. Stand your ground.

Believe in What You Do
Just getting ahead is not a worthy objective; keep a moral compass.

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