Reviews – Power at work

Book: Power at Work by Jo Owen

Most managers and aspiring managers have come to terms with the need for a high intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) but, according to Jo Owen, these are no longer enough on their own. To manage effectively in a world where you don’t have a huge budget, where your responsibilities exceed your authority, where there is internal competition for limited resources, you need PQ – political quotient.

Readers are reassured early on that the core PQ skills are learnable. In fact, the list of these skills is the same as any list of effective management skills – negotiating, persuading, selling ideas, building networks, starting and managing change, managing conflict and crises. The difference here is that the approach to each of these areas has a distinctive PQ slant. It’s all about assessing the best way to further your aims in any situation. So the section on project management for example, concentrates on ensuring you have the right project sponsor, the right team, and the right position in the project. The killer application is effective networking.

The first chapter concentrates on the principles of power, encouraging the reader to assess their own PQ, their environment and their position within it which could be fox, lamb, shark, or sheep. The 10 laws of power are revealed at this point and the rest of the book expands on these, finishing with a section on how to make good use of power once you have it.

It’s an easy book to work through. The presentation is crisp and to the point. Anecdotes, case studies, and pull quotes provide interesting insights and credible examples to back up the points made. The cover claims the book is free from theory and lives up to this claim; the emphasis is very much on practical approaches which have worked for others both in public and private sector settings. The layout is clear and easy to follow. Each chapter starts with a bulleted list of what will be covered, and sections are easy to browse or dip in and out of.

If you work in a setting where managers no longer have the luxury of a well-financed command and control operating system then this book will strike a chord. It’s a practical manual for those who are willing to explore the idea of lack of power and budget as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Irene Krechowiecka is a careers coach and journalist