Success Takes More Than Performance

We have an amazing group of students in our Executive MBA program at UNR. They all have a strong desire to advance their careers by becoming better leaders in their organizations.

Is superior job performance enough to succeed and advance in your organization? The truth is performance alone is probably not enough. Even if you perform well, it’s going to be tough for you to get ahead if your supervisor does not like you; however, if you perform with distinction, you are more likely to strengthen your supervisor’s relationship with and commitment to you. Keep in mind that if your supervisor does not like you, it will have a negative impact on how she or he perceives and evaluates your performance in the first place.

In his brilliant evidence-based management book entitled “Power: Why some people have it and others don’t,” Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that you are going to need to acquire power to get ahead at work, and “one of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that good performance – job accomplishments – is sufficient to acquire power” (p. 22). According to Pfeffer:

The people responsible for your success are those above you, with the power to either promote you or to block your rise up the organization chart. And there are always people above you, regardless of your position. Therefore, your job is to ensure that those influential others have a strong desire to make you successful. That may entail doing a good job. But it may also entail ensuring that those in power notice the good work that you do, remember you, and think well of you because you make them feel good about themselves. It is performance, coupled with political skill that will help you rise through the ranks. Performance by itself is seldom sufficient, and in some instances, may not even be necessary. (p. 35).

If you want to succeed, you are going to have to develop your understanding of the principles of power and be willing to use them with political prowess. Performance matters, but if you aspire to be an effective executive, you are going to need more than performance.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Related Posts:

Don’t Make Your Work Look Too Easy

Book Review: Power By Jeffrey Pfeffer

Management Is An Authority Relationship


About Bret Simmons

Nevada Management Professor

Posted on December 7, 2011, in evidence-based management, organizational behavior and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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