Power at Work
The Art of Making Things Happen

By Jo Owen
September 2007
Financial Times / Prentice Hall
Distributed By Trans-Atlantic Publications
ISBN: 9780273713395
184 Pages, Illustrated
$34.95 paper original

We have all experienced moments when we have felt powerful – in meetings and presentations, when people choose to listen to us and even when facing new situations. We have also all experienced the feeling of being powerless – when we don’t know how to do something, or we can’t communicate things effectively.

Power is also, without a doubt, integral to our professional achievements and Power at Work is a practical, skills based toolkit for people wanting to succeed at work.

In business today, people cannot just command and control, but instead must use power to persuade and influence others. There is no training programme or text book to tell managers how to do this, so this books fills that void and helps the smart emplyee become the powerful and successful employee.

Power at work is the first book to show you exactly how to generate and manage your own power skills set. From identifying sources of power to using and managing power effectively, this book is the definitive guide to the who, what, where, when, how and why of making things happen.


Introduction: why power is important now                                                                    

Who:  the power of many versus the power of one.

No one can do it all themselves. This chapter has three short sections:

a) the power of one and the hero trap: examples of the one versus the many in decision making and outcomes

b) building personal power and the main sources of personal power: skills, effort, resources and results

c) trading personal power into a network power: how ordinary people achieve extraordinary things

Where: the fountains of power.

People need to know where power lies in an organisation. The obvious answer (the CEO) is not always helpful, because the CEO may well not have the time or the interest to become involved with your activities. People need to find out who has the power which is relevant to them. This means that each person has to acquire a unique power network, which is constantly shifting over time as responsibilities change. This section looks at the different roles people can play in both your career network (helping you manage your career) and your performance network (helping you get things done). It describes the relevance of each role and how the manager can engage them, or potentially lose them.

How: the art of persuasion

The right network shows where the levers of power lie in the organisation. It is one thing know where the power levers lie It is another thing knowing how to pull those levers: persuading people over whom you have no formal control to make things happen for you. This section looks at the principles and tools behind making the network work:

When: moments of truth

We have all seen those critical events where power flows to or from someone. In a crisis, someone stands up and takes responsibility, has a plan and a way forward: power flows to them. Another person makes a complete mess of a presentation in front of key executives and you can watch the power flow from them.

Although some power moments are unexpected and unplanned, most can be expected and can be planned. This section will look at how managers can anticipate and plan for most power moments, including budgets, assignments, reviews, crises and conflicts, presentations, meetings, first impressions and selling ideas.

What: pulling the levers of power.

Once you have your hands on the levers of power, you need to know how to use them. This is a guide to the major sources of power and how to use them:

-          strategy: the art of telling stories

-          budgets and the psychological contract

-          projects and the four horsemen of the apocalypse

-          structural change: pushing the corporate carousel with intent

-          culture and the crab

-          rewards, measures and Mondeo Man

-          if cash is king, the customer is queen: resource management

Why: the art of making things happen

There is little point in acquiring power unless you use it, and use it well. Using power well means different things at different levels of the organisation. This section looks at the universal principles of using power well, and then shows how those principles are applied at different levels of the organisation.


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