Career success

How To Be Powerful At Work And In Life

Power, the ability to 'do things', is how you are able to exert influence over others. It is therefore, a very important influencing skill.


Power comes from force, wealth, knowledge.

- Alvin Toffler, futurist


It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

- Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), 'The Prince'


Learn to conquer the world, and claim it was self-defense.

- One of the 18 reasons for learning Latin at


Information is knowledge, knowledge is influence, influence is power.

- Anon




1. To have power is to be able to have influence. Influence leads to bigger success at work and in life. You may have a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) but without any influence, you are just a cog in the machine, a cog no one notices when it goes missing.


2. The five common sources of power:


- Coercion: Getting what you want through fear, threats and punishments.

- Expertise: Your superior knowledge or skills.

- Role position: Your job or location in the organization.

- Rewarding: Your ability to reward emotionally or financially.

- Connections: Your access to networks, groups, and hence, social power.


Alvin Toffler wrote that power comes from three things, 'Force, Wealth and Knowledge'.


3. Force often comes from authority. Think any leader. Think anyone whose hands are at the controls. Think anyone who doles out favors. Stop at Hitler.


Wealth is wealth. Think the 1%. Wealth begets wealth.


Knowledge is Actionable information. You know something of value, which no one else knows, you have power.


4. Good people use power responsibly. Remember the adage 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Use your power in a mature and self-controlled way.


Tips for Power


1. Always deliver and fulfill expectations (tip: control the expectation, don't over-promise). Work hard, put in the hours (and more), making sure the bosses know about it.


2. If you are the right person in the right job (by virtue of your skills, or you being what they want, maybe they want an Indian in the job), you have influence.


3. If someone from higher up has your back as mentor / sponsor, this brings you influence.


4. If you are continually making connections with powerful / useful people in your company, industry or outside, trading favors, you are slowly but surely building up your power.


5. Go after the big name jobs and projects: This will happen if you have networked well, and people know about the value you bring to any task.


6. If you have done something outstanding, make sure everyone, especially the bosses and top guys in your industry and beyond know about it. Be known for something, some ability. It helps build your influence. Claim the successes, friend.


7. Keep pushing and working your long term goals: If want to be the CEO one day, you will need successes, connections, support from team members, from the bosses, etc. Keep pushing, one small win at a time.


8. Control your public profile: Reputation matters. How you come off to people (team, bosses, industry) matters.


9. Never let any opportunity to gain access the bosses (your company, industry, etc) go waste. And when you get that opportunity, knock it out of park- great presentation, great synopsis of problem and solution (solutions are very important, they bring value), whatever it is they need you to do, get it done.


10. Flattery is icky but important. Don't overdo it. If you see what no one else sees in the boss, without being sarcastic about it, you have hit gold.


11. Loyalty is good when the bosses know your value and you have an idea that will not forget it.


The laws of power


1 Never Outshine the Master/boss

2 Never put too much trust in Friends, Learn how to use your enemies

3 Conceal your intentions

4 Always Say Less than Necessary (This is gold)

5 So Much Depends on Reputation - Guard it with your Life

6 Court Attention at all Cost

7 Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit (No one ever said unselfish people had power)

8 Make other People come to you - Use Bait if Necessary

9 Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

10 Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

11 Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

12 Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim

13When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

14 Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

15 Crush your Enemy Totally

16 Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

17 Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

18 Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself - Isolation is Dangerous

19 Know Who You’re Dealing with - Do Not Offend the Wrong Person

20 Do Not Commit to Anyone

21 Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker - Seem Dumber than your Mark

22 Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

23 Concentrate Your Forces

24 Play the Perfect Courtier

25 Re-Create Yourself (Adapt and conquer)

26 Keep Your Hands Clean (Don't 'appear' to be involved)

27 Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult like Following

28 Enter Action with Boldness

29 Plan All the Way to the End (End justifies all means)

30 Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless (You will come off as charismatic and magical)

31 Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal

32 Play to People’s Fantasies (Know what they want)

33 Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew (Know what they fear and lack)

34 Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be treated like one

35 Master the Art of Timing (Do/say the right thing at the right time. Till then, hold your tongue)

36 Disdain Things you cannot have: Ignoring them is the best Revenge

37 Create Compelling Spectacles (People like spectacles - inauguration, procession etc)

38 Think as you like but behave like others (This is how you build rapport)

39 Stir up waters to catch fish (Do things to get people and circumstances to open up)

40 Despise the Free Lunch (There are no free lunches in the world)

41 Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes (Or, they will always compare you, and you will come off as wanting, it is psychology)

42 Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter (Strike at the leader of the other side)

43 Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

44 Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect (Great way to build rapport, and get people to like you)

45 Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once (Too much change at one go makes people and things unstable, pieces take time to fall into place)

46 Never appear too Perfect (Or, you will make more people jealous - nobody likes a perfect person, because no one is perfect)

47 Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn when to Stop

48 Assume Formlessness (Don't appear fixated on certain ideas and things)


(Source: 'The 48 Laws of Power' by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers)


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.