What’s the Secret to Success? Power!
Jeffrey Pfeffer knows a thing or two about success. He’s the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and The Wall Street Journal named him one of the top 20 most influential business thinkers. So when he talks about why cultivating power is the secret to success, it’s wise to listen and learn.
In a recent video posted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Pfeffer discusses just that. “Power, according to Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, is the organization’s last dirty secret,” he says. “It is, however, the secret to success.” But the subject of power makes many people uncomfortable, violating “their idea that the world is a just and fair place” and the belief that people can get ahead simply based on hard work and honest effort. Once people are able to accept the idea that power is the secret to success, they can take action to increase their power.
So how can you increase your power within an organization?
First, Pfeffer suggests, determine who has power. Not necessarily formal power, but sometimes informal power—an assistant or a secretary who has power, for example. Once you’ve determined who has power, figure out how to get close to them and get them on your side, either by helping them, forging social relationships, or even flattering them. “We all love people who make us feel good about ourselves,” Pfeffer says.
Which brings us to the importance of social relationships in business.
“Organizations and work life is all about social relationships,” Pfeffer says. So the more quality connections you make and the more networks you have, “the better your career is gonna go.” While some people find networking “icky” or “contrived,” Pfeffer advocates spending more time with people who are going to be useful to you and your career or business venture and less time with people who lack the power or ideas to have that kind of impact on your success.
Pfeffer even argues that confidence is a more important trait for a leader than authenticity, even if you have to fake it. “Your job as a leader is not to be authentic or genuine or true to yourself,” Pfeffer says. “Your job as a leader is to be true to what the situation requires of you.”
Watch Jeffrey Pfeffer discussing why power is the secret to success below:
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