Cover Image: Acting with Power

Acting with Power

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Speaking of tiny habits, Deborah Gruenfeld, a social psychologist and the Joseph McDonald Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, describes one about three-quarters of the way through her book, Acting with Power: Why We Are More Powerful Than We Believe. After realizing that she was routinely obsessing about negative student reactions and that the habit was coloring her attitude toward teaching, Gruenfeld began spending a few minutes before each class thinking about positive student reactions.

“It was a turning point in my life as an educator,” she explains. “It may not always come naturally, even to this day, but it is foolproof, and it is not hard to do.” For Gruenfeld, this is not so much a tiny habit as it is an example of choosing love over fear — a technique that actors (and managers) can use to “show warmth and caring in a powerful role.”

Many managers are uncomfortable with power. Perhaps it is because they occupy a middle ground in which they have power over employees and yet are still subordinate to the power of executives. Acting with Power offers a means of reframing how we understand power and tapping into a wellspring of influence that is available to all of us. Read the rest here:
Was this review helpful?
I took away so many insights from this book, both professionally and personally.

I loved the idea that we're all playing a range of roles, and can be more effective if we acknowledge whether we're in the role of "boss" or "underling" or "mom" or friend". Gruenfeld explains the concept of playing high and playing low, and when to use each. Another concept I found really powerful was the idea of the purpose of power. Gruenfeld doesn't just see power as something to go out and get more of, but rather, as a valuable asset that should be used to serve.

Gruenfeld has been teaching these concepts at the Stanford GSB for many years, and her expertise is evident. But her tone is still approachable and conversational. It was a pleasure to read.

Too many business books are not worth the money. They either contain one idea, repeated, or they are a rambling collections of observations, or worst of all, advice from someone who's not actually an expert.

This book is worth every penny (and more!).
Was this review helpful?