Selena Rezvani points to research documenting women’s tendency to negotiate for salaries, promotions – and even task-sharing in relationships, less often than men in Pushback: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want
These recommendations echo those suggested in research studies and popular articles, and perhaps more Machiavellian, realistic, and perhaps disconcerting come from one of her endorsers, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.
He analyzes individual power dynamics in corporate hierarchies, and offers recommendations to acquire and use power in Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t
In Rezvani’s book, Pfeffer notes that “Power is about 20% conferred and 80% taken.
Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who ask, negotiate, and push.
For women—or men—to get what they deserve, they must get over the platitudes and attitudes that hold them back.”
Pfeffer debunks the hopeful idea that the world is fair and just, and counsels those seeking to have the power to “get things done” to promote themselves, avoid giving up or delegating power, but instead, give up the wish to be well-liked.
Because the work world is not fair, Pfeffer says that intelligence, performance, and likeability alone are not the most important factors in advancing in an organization.
Instead, he argues that ambition, energy, and focus drive key power behaviors:
- Self-promotion and seeking organizational visibility
- Building relationships, networking, and supporting the immediate manager
Cultivating a reputation for control and authority by managing information and first impressions (halo effect, attention decrement, cognitive discounting, self-fulfilling prophecy, biased assimilation)
- Embodying powerful demeanor in speech, dress, posture
Useful skills in acquiring power are:
- Self-reflection and self-knowledge
- Confidence and self-assurance
- Ability to “read” others by empathically understanding their perspectives
- Capacity to tolerate and remain calm in conflict
Although power is valuable to enable execution and results, there are downsides and “prices to pay” for having and using power.
Often, the costs of power are not fully considered or anticipated by those who aspire to it, so Pfeffer usefully suggests the following drawbacks of power:
- Loss of privacy due to public scrutiny
- Loss of autonomy
- Necessary investment of time and effort that might be spent in other ways, such as with family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, pursuing non-work interests
- Trust, confidentiality, conflict-of-interest, ethical dilemmas
- Possible intoxication with power as an “addictive drug”
Pfeffer’s Stanford University colleague, Kathleen Kelly Rearson shares specific examples of skillful, modulated application of power in her book, It’s all Politics.
-*How do you ask for what you want at work?
-*What power tactics do you employ to influence your negotiation outcomes?
- Non-verbal behaviors that signal “charisma”
- Powerful body language for women in the workplace
- Women who demonstrate behavioral flexibility through “self-monitoring” get more promotions than men
- Negotiation style differences – Women don’t ask for raises or promotions as often as men