Laura W. Geller, Jessica Kennedy

Jessica Kennedy has researched the origin of unethical behavior, and why it takes hold. She has found that the whole story is more complex. It’s not always about power corrupting. Rather, power causes people to identify so strongly with their group that they lose sight of whether that group’s actions cross an ethical line. This identification can lead them to support misconduct, rather than stopping … [ Read more ]

Susan Fowler

Power undermines people’s psychological needs. It’s not just your use of the power; it’s people’s perception that you have it and could use it. Your power demands that people need to exert more energy self-regulating to experience autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman

Power is the possibility for one person to make a difference on issues—or stakes—that matter to someone else. Because A can make a difference on issues that matter to B, then B will do things that he or she would not have done without A’s intervention. Power always exists, one way or another, either helping or hindering good outcomes. It helps mobilize people, either directly … [ Read more ]

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 ]

John Rawls

The fairest rules are those to which everyone would agree if they did not know how much power they would have.

Abraham Lincoln

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Van Jones

There are two kinds of power in the world: organized money and organized people.

Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford

High power makes you deaf and low power gives you laryngitis.

Sheryl Sandberg

Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire.

Chip Conley

You can see who’s most powerful in a society based on who has the tallest buildings. Two hundred years ago it was cathedrals. Fifty years ago it was a government building. Today, in most urban areas, the power rests with business and skyscrapers. Business is the most powerful influence in the world today. Fifty-four of the 100 most powerful entities in the world today are … [ Read more ]

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.

J. Ruth Gendler

Power made me a coat. For a long time I kept it in the back of my closet. I didn’t like to wear it much but I always took good care of it. When I first started wearing it again, it smelled like mothballs. As I wore it more, it started fitting better, and stopped smelling like mothballs.

I was afraid if I wore the coat … [ Read more ]

Charles Handy

Subsidiarity… means that power belongs to the lowest possible point in the organization. …Subsidiarity, therefore, is the reverse of empowerment. It is not the center giving away or delegating power. Instead, power is assumed to lie at the lowest point in the organization and it can be taken away only by agreement.

Margaret Thatcher

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

Nina DiSesa

When I talk about S&M, I’m talking about seduction and manipulation. The most successful people in business, warfare, politics, and life itself are masters of the art of manipulation. But it’s the combination of the two that is important, because people who are manipulators are seen as selfish and in the wrong. Manipulate is a dirty word, but if you combine it with seduction — … [ Read more ]

Dacher Keltner

In psychological science, power is defined as one’s capacity to alter another person’s condition or state of mind by providing or withholding resources—such as food, money, knowledge, and affection—or administering punishments, such as physical harm, job termination, or social ostracism. This definition de-emphasizes how a person actually acts, and instead stresses the individual’s capacity to affect others. Perhaps most importantly, this definition applies across relationships, … [ Read more ]

Dacher Keltner

When we seek equality, we are seeking an effective balance of power, not the absence of power. We use it to win consent and social cohesion, not just compliance. To be human is to be immersed in power dynamics.

Dacher Keltner

One of the central questions concerning power is who gets it. Researchers have confronted this question for years, and their results offer a sharp rebuke to the Machiavellian view of power. It is not the manipulative, strategic Machiavellian who rises in power. Instead, social science reveals that one’s ability to get or maintain power, even in small group situations, depends on one’s ability to understand … [ Read more ]

Karen Stephenson

Whenever change is on the agenda, the power of relationships trumps the power of position.

Mario Moussa

Using your authority to beat people down in your company may help you in the short term, but it isn’t good for morale. Most savvy, sophisticated executives are natural wooers because they understand that one of the most important things to people is their self-esteem, and it’s counterproductive to force people to go along with your idea rather than convince them of its merits. When … [ Read more ]