Jeffrey Pfeffer

If you have technical skills without influence skills, you’re not going to go anywhere cause you can’t get anything done. If you have influence skills without technical skills, you may go places but you’ll get the wrong things done. So you really need both.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Authenticity and the idea of authenticity basically gives people an excuse to not change, to not adapt. So, instead of being true to yourself, you need to be true to what other people around you need from you. This idea that you need to be authentic is insane.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Leaders do not need to be true to themselves. Rather, leaders need to be true to the situation and what those around them want and need from them.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

People are often cognitively lazy, not just cognitively biased. Our mental shortcuts and unconscious patterns of thought make everyone susceptible to the tactics of interpersonal influence: tactics that depend on the norm of reciprocity, accepting and obeying authority (or its symbols), the power of liking, the value created by scarcity, and the tendency to escalate levels of commitment, even in the face of negative outcomes. … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey Pfeffer

When executives tell me that flattery doesn’t work and that people can see through strategic efforts to garner their support, I cite extensive evidence showing that we are generally quite poor at discerning deception. When the deception is coming from a master deceiver and consummate politician like [Lyndon] Johnson, the odds of successful resistance are quite low.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Thinking on leadership has become a sort of morality tale. There are writers who advocate authenticity, attention to employees’ well-being, telling the truth, building trust, being agreeable, and so forth. A smaller number of empirical researchers, contrarily, report evidence on the positive effects of traits and behavior such as narcissism, self-promotion, rule breaking, lying, and shrewd maneuvering on salaries, getting jobs, accelerating career advancement, and … [ Read more ]

Getting Beyond the BS of Leadership Literature

Management books and commentaries often oversimplify, seldom providing useful guidance about the skills and behavior needed to get things done.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that leader behaviors that make work groups or organizational units more successful are not perfectly correlated with the behaviors that make leaders individually more successful. Organizational performance and leader career outcomes are imperfectly correlated.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

In medicine and, for that matter, other disciplines such as engineering, we demand expertise and try as best we can to assess whether or not people know what they are doing and talking about. In leadership, a good story coupled with enough self-assurance is often sufficient.

Therefore, in the domain of leadership development, where interventions as frequently measured by their entertainment value and with no science … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Measures signal what is deemed important inside companies, because what is measured must be, almost by definition, important—just for the very fact of it being measured. Conversely, what is neglected by measures is, by inference, unimportant. Measures focus people’s attention. Measures typically drive rewards and reinforcement, because performance on measures has consequences for people’s raises, promotions, and job tenure. Therefore, and it should come as … [ Read more ]

Why We Don’t Get the Leaders We Say We Want

The state of workplaces, not just in the U.S. but all over the world, can only be described as dire. Whether you prefer Gallup’s data on employee engagement or the surveys on engagement or job satisfaction emanating from the various human resource consulting firms and the Conference Board, the picture that emerges is consistent: mostly disengaged, dissatisfied, disaffected employees. Moreover, there is no evidence that … [ Read more ]

Bridging the Disconnect between Leadership Theory and Practice

If you haven’t read the book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time, by Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, you are missing out. Pfeffer lambasts the leadership development industry — including business schools, human resource departments, authors, and leadership programs and coaches — for being clueless about the harsh political realities of the workplace, and for promoting behaviors that are … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Great leaders and teams are masters of the obvious—a rare talent.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Why do traditional power structures have such staying power? One reason is that hierarchies still work. Jeffrey Pfeffer writes that “relationships with bosses still matter for people’s job tenure and opportunities, as do networking skills.” He notes that research shows hierarchies also deliver practical and psychological value, in part by fulfilling deep-seated needs for order and security. Another is that individuals who believe in their … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey Pfeffer: Do Workplace Hierarchies Still Matter?

In a world where a junior staffer can tweet to the CEO, the lines that traditionally delineated power and influence have been blurred. So much so, in fact, that when Jeffrey Pfeffer teaches about corporate America’s hierarchical power structure, his students often push back. That model of power isn’t relevant anymore, they insist. Such 20th-century thinking. They’re wrong.

Building Sustainable Organizations: The Human Factor

It’s time to broaden our focus on environmental sustainability practices and social responsibility to also include organizational effects on employee health and mortality.

Why Managers Won’t Let Go

There is mounting evidence that giving people more responsibility for making decisions in their jobs generates greater productivity, morale, and commitment. Yet, in spite of the substantial economic returns to decentralization and delegation, many American managers resist such practices in favor of traditional command-and-control approaches to managing people.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Many of us learn the need to be liked by everyone early in our lives — it’s something to get over if you are going to negotiate a path to power.