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Power: Why You Need It & How to Have More of It

NEWS FLASH:  The national unemployment rate is at 9.1% and 55% of Americans who are employed are dissatisfied with their work.  The statistics reveal that an overwhelming percentage of the population is feeling powerless.

Power is essential for employment and career growth, leads to monetary wealth and longevity, and can improve your ability for achievement. In a population where so many feel weak and downtrodden, what can you do to empower yourself for career success?

I recently had a conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Business at Stanford and an expert on power. In my interview with Dr. Pfeffer, he reveals why power is so important in organizational environments and how it separates CEO’s at the top of the corporate food chain from everyone else. Discussing his latest book Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don’t, Dr. Pfeffer reveals the personality qualities that build power, how you can become more effective and influential in organizational environments, and what you need to do to achieve the success you desire.  Whether you’re unemployed, looking to attain greater success in your current position, or working to maintain the power you’ve already achieved, Dr. Pfeffer covers it all.

Learn how you can get into any high power position, even under the most unlikely circumstances. Read an excerpt from my conversation with Dr. Pfeffer below, then be sure and listen to the full interview.

Robert:  Now I’d like to talk to you about this whole fake it until you make it idea. Can someone exhibit power externally while internally feeling completely fearful?

Dr. Pfeffer:  Sure. I mean, I think you’d see if you were to read Atul Gawande (he’s a medical writer for The New Yorker magazine), his book Complications which talks about his training as a doctor. He’s now of course a very successful surgeon. But the first time a surgeon performs a surgery, I’m not so sure that they are completely confident when they make that first incision that they know precisely what they’re doing (but they have to, of course).

Here’s another interesting thing about faking it until you make it. A colleague at another university named Dana Carney and some of her friends did a very interesting study in which she had had subjects come into the lab. In some cases she said, “I want you to adopt a high power pose.” A high power pose is with, you know, arms and legs spread—you take up a lot of space is basically the quickest way to describe it. And for other people, these people were randomly assigned to adopt a low power pose where your shoulders are hunched in, and your neck is hunched in, and you basically take up less space, and you’re kind of curling in on yourself. And not only did they feel psychologically different, the people who adopted a high power pose felt more powerful. But moreover, more interesting, she had done blood tests on these people as they came in, and after adopting a high power pose their level of cortisol (which is a stress hormone) went down and their level of testosterone went up, and the reverse for the people who were randomly assigned to be at a low power pose. So, it’s not just that how you look and act affects how you feel and your confidence, it actually affects your blood chemistry.

Robert:  That is such an amazing thing, amazing insight, that I think that some people may miss what you just said because it is so profound. It’s not that you feel badly, or you feel insecure, and therefore your body behaves in a certain way. You can actually change the way you move your body, or change the way you stand, or sit, and that by itself can actually create more power, more feelings of self-control, and can actually have a physiological change in your body. To me that is just so remarkable!

Dr. Pfeffer:  I guess. I mean, it’s not that remarkable to me because I’ve seen it for such a long time, but yes. It is a definite yes. You can fake it till you make it, that’s for sure.

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