Jeffrey Pfeffer: Get Comfortable with Standing Out or You Never Will

Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is the author of 13 books.  He discussed his most recent, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t during a Social Capitalist interview.

So I look at folks. I think the average human being, not everybody, but the average human being, is too concerned about what other people think. They are too worried about standing out. They’re too worried about asking for favors because they’re worried about what other people would think about them and they’re worried about being too bold. Continue reading

Jeffrey Pfeffer: To Be a More Effective Relationship Broker, You Need New Friends

Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University Professor and author of Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, is also the author of a popular business school case study based on myGreenlight founder Keith Ferrazzi. During his Social Capitalist interview, Professor Pfeffer explained the importance of becoming central in your network and taking on what he calls a brokerage role.

Brokers, even the literal term, bring people together. I mean, if you think about it, what is a venture capitalist? A venture capitalist links people with technology with people with money. And the people with money probably know other people with money. They don’t know people with technology and vice versa. So the broker fills this kind of structural hole and brings the two groups together.

That’s one of the things that effective networkers do. They find people who could benefit from being in contact with each other and put them in contact. And thereby, their sales profit from bringing those groups together. By the way, in order to do that, you have to do something that I think Keith really exemplifies and great networkers do, which is that you have to meet a diverse and broad set of people from a variety of industries and from a variety of walks of life. Continue reading

Jeffrey Pfeffer Says Save Generosity Until You Have Power

In his Social Capitalist interview, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Professor and author of Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, shared perspectives on power, kindness, and generosity that differ dramatically from one the fundamental concepts of myGreenlight – lead with generosity. How do you feel about his comments?

There is this tendency to assume that competency and niceness are, in fact, independent of each other. You can be smart and nice or dumb and mean. All four selves are possible. But empirically, people tend to see niceness and competence, or niceness and smartness, or niceness and brilliance, as being negatively related. Theresa Amabile, who’s now on the Harvard Business School faculty, wrote an article many years ago entitled “Brilliant But Cruel,” in which she found that people who gave negative book reviews were seen as not as nice, not as kind, not as warm, but also seen as smarter. Continue reading

Jeffrey Pfeffer on Why Kissing Up to Your Boss isn’t a Bad Idea

Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer shared the often unspoken power rules of business on an eye-opening session of the Social Capitalist. An outspoken truth-teller and academic rebel willing to question the orthodoxy, he proved again with his book, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, why he’s one of our very top thinkers in management theory.

During the interview, Professor Pfeffer shared reasons that making the powers-that-be look good isn’t a bad idea.

I think many of us in particular are uncomfortable with having other people, particularly other people who we may feel are unqualified or who have gotten their positions in an unfair manner or, you know, who knows how they’ve gotten their jobs, but they have power over us and we don’t like it. And so we say, why does this person have the right to tell me what to do? And then we act and behave in a counter-dependent fashion, and that doesn’t get us very far at all.

Everybody has a boss, and to the extent that your boss likes you, thinks well of you, and wants to make you successful, you’re probably going to do way better than if your boss doesn’t like you and would rather never see you again, in which case you’re likely going to be fired.

When your colleague and co-author Keith Ferrazzi came to my class some years ago, he’s made a statement that I think is completely correct. He said, “You are not responsible for your career. Your blinding ambition is not going to necessarily make you successful. It is other people who are responsible for your career.” The people higher up in the organization whose fate – your fate, they control. And so your job is to make sure that they want to make you successful and have an interest in your success and well being. The best way to do that is to make those people feel better about themselves. And so flattery, yes, is one technique. Not disagreeing with them openly or in a confrontational way is another thing. It’s basically asking about any behavior that you’re going to exhibit, At the end of exhibiting this behavior, will the other people feel better or worse about themselves and about my effect on their self kind of esteem? And so, a lot of this is about being energetic, being enthusiastic, being positive, because all of those things are part of having people feel better about themselves.

For more insights into the role power plays in your success, read the full transcript and get the audio recording of this information packed Social Capitalist interview.

For more information about Jeffrey, visit www.jeffreypfeffer.com.