Q.. I'm really frustrated because as I look around this office I realize I'm smarter and work harder than most of the people in it. Yet some lazy guys who come in early and stay late and hang around the boss all day get the best assignments and I know they'll be promoted before I am. I try chatting up the important people when I meet them in elevators and the snack room but I don't seem to make an impression. So what good did all those honors courses do for me? Am I missing something?
Ans. The dirty little secret is that power doesn't always go to those who are smarter and work better and harder than everyone else. New research by Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeiffer shows the real source of power is learning political skills and using them. His new book "Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't" (Harper Business $27.99) points out misconceptions we have about power, such as that it has to do with IQ, job performance and likeability. He found it really depends upon unexpected tactics, learned not inborn, that thrust less qualified people ahead of "worker bees" like you because they know how to manipulate management into believing they are born leaders. Three starting steps are: stand out and be noticed; find out what matters to your boss and let him know you're working on that; and make others feel better about themselves.