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Jeffrey Pfeffer: Dying for a Paycheck
Today’s guest is regarded as one of the most influential management thinkers in the world largely because he considers themes and human behaviours that others avoid discussing. Jeffrey Pfeffer is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He’s author of books like Management BS, Power and most recently Dying for a Paycheck and it’s the last two books that we mainly discuss in today’s chat.
Jeffrey mentions this New York Times article about the stress of someone in the legal profession.
His book Power has become a global best seller largely because it is a manual for the Machiavellian. It’s a modern day version of Niccolò Machiavelli’s 16th century book The Prince. It’s not that Pfeffer believes this is what we should behave like to be our best selves but rather if we don’t behave like this we’re going to be exploited.
In the course notes for Jeffrey's stanford class on power he says that "insufficient sensitivity to and skill coping with power have cost Stanford graduates promotions opportunities and even their jobs".
Fundamentally the mistake we’re all making according to Pfeffer is believing that the world is fair. I know I’m guilty of this. Whether you watch US politics or British politics but I certainly find myself looking at current events thinking that a reckoning will come when the good guys will win and sort things out. Spoiler alert. The good guys don’t win. And the source for that point is history.
Pfeffer's belief is that in business they don't win so arm yourself. He believes that leaders often ascend to their position not through an innate goodness but because they understand the rules of power.