5 Books to Gain Power At Work

Company Takeover: Obtaining power is something a lot of people desire, but few people actively study how power dynamics work in an organization.  I have found this topic fascinating through my career, and these 5 books have transformed how I ‘play the game’.

But be warned, these books are not for the faint of heart.

Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t (Jeffrey Pfeffer)

I give this book to every college graduate that joins my team.  This is what I would like to have known early in my career, as I made a lot of the mistakes the book highlights.  Being smart or a great performer does not lead to promotions.  The people that get ahead are the ones who build relationships, cultivate their reputation, and are constantly selling themselves.

What I loved about the book is that it combined science with pragmatic recommendations.  We have all heard about “Fake it until you Make it”, but Pfeffer shows you how to do it.

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Dictators Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics (Bruce Bueno de Mesquita)

History likes to glorify the leadership styles of the people we respect.  I always took a contrarian point of view.  Even though they can be vicious evil people, I think we can learn a lot from Dictators.  Whether we like it or not, these people wielded significant power, and we should at least understand how they achieved such power.

I read this book because I had a manager who I thought lead like a dictator, and I wanted to see if I was right.  Not surprisingly, I was right.  But even though this book predominantly talks about politics and government, it is not a far leap to apply the same learnings to your business politics.  Just be careful, when you lead like a dictator, you probably are probably inspiring the revolutionaries that will take you down.

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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)

The ability to influence other people is one of the most critical skills any wannabe leader can master.  Other books I read on the subject are built off a company practice (the P&G way of selling) or just a collection of anecdotal practices from a master sales person.  This book looks at the underlying science behind influencing others, and gives easy to apply tips so you can convince more people to say ‘Yes’ to your ideas.

One study I absolutely loved from the book was the time they were able to convince 20% of people to put a giant billboard (2×3 meters / 6×9 feet) in their front lawn with just 1 simple trick.  If you want to know what it is, then you will have to read the book.

48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene)

Skip reading the Art of War (Sun Tzu) and the Prince (Machiavelli).  Instead read the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.  Assembled from over 2,000 years of history, Greene identifies the 48 laws of power that have been practiced by kings, emperors, and warlords. Each law is explained in detail, and when practiced it will help you attain and retain power.  But break the laws at your own risk, or you might end up like the countless people who broke the laws and lost their head (most likely metaphorical in your case).

What I loved about it was that it gave a clear guide on how to manipulate others in search of power.  Too often these topics are taboo, so it was refreshing to read a book willing to look at the unglamorous side of power and why manipulation still works today.

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The Science of Likability: 27 Studies to Master Charisma, Attract Friends, Captivate People, and Take Advantage of Human Psychology (Patrick King)

All the previous books will guide you on how to dominate, manipulate, and obtain power in whatever way possible.  But the leaders who are the most effective are not the ones who take control through force, it is the leaders who convince their people to willingly follow them.  Leading through fear works in short situations, but for long term success you need to capture the hearts and minds of your people.

This book lays out the science and pragmatic tips on how to appear likable, trustworthy, and intelligent.  These are the kinds of things you need to do if you are also trying rise through the ranks, but these are the kinds of things you need to do if you want to stay there. This will be your silk glove that covers your iron fist.

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Highlight and Tweet it – People aren’t born political geniuses or master manipulators.  Those skills can be learned, and I’m starting my studies.  #Cavemanthoughts  #Lighthousekeeper   website link

Disclaimer – Caveman in a Suit does not take any responsibility if your career crashes like a meteor, but we will always share in your glory if it blasts off like a rocket.  😉

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