Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn't go to hell if you take a day off.

— Jeffrey Pfeffer

The most terrific Jeffrey Pfeffer quotes that will activate your inner potential

Successful organizations understand the importance of implementation, not just strategy, and, moreover, recognize the crucial role of their people in this process.

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Knowledge is only useful if you do something with it.

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You are more likely to acquire power by narrowing your focus and applying your energies, like the sun's rays, to a limited range of activities in a small number of domains.

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You can't be normal and expect abnormal returns.

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People will envy you to the extent that you start out with a group of people and you rise up the organization faster than them. Get over what your peers are thinking about you because your peers are also your competitors.

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Personal growth and professional development require mostly being treated like an adult, which is pretty much the opposite of what happens in most workplaces. People need to be able to make decisions. To do that effectively, they need information and training in how to use it.

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So, the three qualities of a workplace that would develop people would be information sharing, investing in the training of the workforce, and giving employees the ability to use their training and information to make decisions.

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Lying is common in social life, often done for benign purposes, seldom draws severe sanctions, and many of the most notable leaders, including the late Steve Jobs, were consummate prevaricators. Told with enough persistence and conviction, what was once untrue can become true, in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way.

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The class focuses intensely on making people more comfortable with doing a wider range of things - such as networking, self-promotion, building their own personal brand, cleverly acquiring resources, getting known - that they may have been less comfortable with before.

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Most organisations say they want creativity, but really they do not.

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Those who have power a) understand that the world is not always a just and fair place and accept that fact, b) understand the bases and strategies for acquiring power, and c) take actions consistent with their knowledge in a skillful way. Skill at anything requires practice, and power skills are no different.

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Possibly the biggest issue, however, is that performance appraisals focus managers attention on precisely the wrong thing: individual people. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, taught a long time ago, company performance often results more from variations in systems than from the individuals doing the work.

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About Jeffrey Pfeffer

Quotes 43 sayings
Profession Professor
Birthday July 23, 1946

My overall recommendation: for decades corporate policy manuals and HR departments have told people they are responsible for their own careers. It's about time people really heeded those warnings.

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I am not sure any of the material in Leadership BS would be helpful for small companies and certainly not their owners. Of course, even owners have bosses and need to worry about keeping their jobs - so Power might be more appropriate.

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The single biggest barrier to effective leadership is, in my view, the leadership industry itself. Instead of telling people the skills and behaviors they need to be effective in getting things done, we tell them almost the opposite - blandishments about how we wish people would be, and how we wish workplaces were. That information is worse than useless as, to the extent people believe it, they often wind up losing their jobs.

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Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals is instructive in painting a realistic portrayal of Lincoln and his methods for accomplishing his objectives. In fact, many good political biographies are useful in learning about power, strategy, and decision-making.

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While it is almost certainly true that leaders ought to eat last, the evidence on the ever-widening difference between CEO and average employee pay and the enormous severance packages leaders obtain even as front-line workers see their economic well-being eviscerated makes a mockery of the idea that leaders do anything other than take care of themselves.

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People tell me the Netflix series, House of Cards, is sort of like my class come to life. The movie Margin Call portrays the realities of hierarchical relationships and rivalries beautifully, and how people respond when under pressure. Gandhi and Long Walk to Freedom both have the virtue of presenting larger-than-life figures in a more realistic way, showing their flaws and contradictions - their humanity - in a way that is very helpful.

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The best path to power combines two things: 1) a path that not many are taking and 2) something that you are capable and comfortable with doing.

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I do not think anyone who ever saw Lyndon Johnson give a speech would call him charismatic, even though he was one of the most effective presidents in U.S. history. Same with Lincoln. Charisma is only one source of power, and probably not a very important one, at that.

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Authenticity seems like sort of a joke.

Actually I believe it was the late comedian George Burns who said, "if you can fake sincerity, you've got it made." People cannot be invariant across situations and roles and, moreover, leaders need to be true not to themselves, but to what others want, need, and expect from them.

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Many of our students want to do what they have done and that has made them successful thus far in their lives: play by the rules, and do what is expected. But as much social science research and writing by Malcolm Gladwell, among others, make clear, the rules are mostly created by those already in power so obtaining power often entails standing out and breaking rules and social conventions.

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Volumes in the series on Lyndon Johnson, including Master of the Senate and The Path Power, describe how Johnson created resources out of nothing and built a substantial power base.

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All of Robert Caro's biographies are exceptional, in part because of Caro's fundamental ambivalence about power. He sees its necessity and use for getting things done, even as he is often repelled by watching power at close range. His masterpiece on Robert Moses, The Power Broker, describes the evolution of Moses from idealist to pragmatist as he became one of the most powerful figures in the 20th century.

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People who don't have as much power as they would like often begin by attributing their difficulties to the environment - competitors, bosses, economic circumstances, and so forth. But in reality people are customarily their own biggest impediment to being as powerful as they would like.

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With respect to trust, people tell me that it is essential for organizational functioning. Maybe, but most surveys of trust find that trust in leaders is low and nonetheless, organizations role along quite nicely.

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Almost no one as I think most leadership books are a joke.

They are, as I note in Leadership BS, frequently based on wishes and hopes rather than reality, on inspiring stories rather than systematic social science, and on "oughts" rather than "is."

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I completely reject the idea that working adults need to be treated like infants or worse and not told the realities, harsh or not, about the world of work. Keeping people in the dark and filling them with stories that are either mostly fabricated, unusually rare, or both, doesn't do anyone any good. It is one of the reasons that workplaces and careers remain in such dire straits.

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I decided to write Leadership BS because I was irritated by the hypocrisy in the leadership literature and the fact that many of the people writing leadership books exhibited behavior that was precisely the opposite of what they advocated and also what they claimed they did. Stories did not seem to be a good foundation on which to build a science of leadership.

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Being memorable equals getting picked.

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Leaders are not modest, and more importantly, the extensive social science research on narcissism, self-promotion, and similar constructs shows that these qualities and behaviors are useful for getting hired, achieving promotions, keeping one's job, and obtaining a higher salary.

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Trust is about keeping commitments, but in many instances, circumstances change and organizations therefore shed commitments, things such as retiree medical benefits, pension obligations, and even employees without much remorse or maybe even hesitation.

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Witness Donald Trump's current presidential campaign.

So first people need to find the white spaces, the unexploited or underexploited niches where there is less competition and more opportunity.

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Lyndon Johnson (with Abraham Lincoln close behind).

Johnson was able to get things done, to read other people, and to adjust his own approach accordingly. One of the reasons he has so fascinated biographer Robert Caro over the years is Johnson's consummate skill in acquiring and using influence.

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Point at solutions instead of at each other.

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Advocates of knowledge management as the next big thing have advanced the proposition that what companies need is more intellectual capital. While that is undeniably true, its only partly true. What those advocates are forgetting is that knowledge is only useful if you do something with it.

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Profits are related to customer retention.

Customer retention is related to employee retention. Employee retention may or may not be related to benefits, but benefits could be part of the package that causes people to stay and -- by the way -- engage in discretionary effort. .. If you go into any organization that's customer-facing, you can tell in five minutes when the employees are feeling abused. They retaliate on the customers.

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The stories leaders and others tell, few of which are true, are a lousy foundation on which to base any sort of science, and we know how to accomplish behavioral change and the importance of priming, informational saliency, and social networks. Producing inspiration and other good feelings doesn't last very long.

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I am increasingly convinced that people who have power are not necessarily smarter than others. Beyond a certain level of intelligence and level in the hierarchy, everyone is smart. What differentiates people is their political skill and savvy.

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Doing the right thing is important, which is where strategy comes in.

But doing that thing well—execution—is what sets companies apart. After all, every football play is designed to go for a huge gain. The reason it doesn’t is because of execution—people drop balls, miss blocks, go to the wrong place, and so forth. So, success depends on execution—on the ability to get things done.

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Typical pay increases are not enough to motivate employees, but they are enough to irritate them. … Even when companies create seemingly significant pay differentiation between low and high performers, the actual cash increase is insufficient to sustain performance – or it drives the wrong behaviors. … Effective management is a system, not a pay plan. The mistake is that companies try to solve all their problems with pay.

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One cannot control the actions of others, but we are responsible for what we do.

People say things such as, "I can't do this," "it is not really me," "this makes me uncomfortable," etc. People, simply put, opt out of playing the game or doing so in a way that will make them successful. So get over yourself, and do what you need to do - and what, by the way, others around you are doing, to become more powerful.

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