Jeff Pfeffer's recently-released book, Power, is a must-read for school folks who are seeking to understand how "power" (as a concept) is sought, gained, and utilized within an organization; moreover, it is especially useful for those readers who would like to increase their own centrality within an organization. Pfeffer is an expert on organizational behavior at Stanford University, and his expertise is abundantly evident in this immensely readable tome. A very nice twist, however, is that Pfeffer goes out of his way to show readers how to acquire more power within their organizations. To do so is not rocket science; it deals with being purposeful and methodical.
Power, as Pfeffer points out, is not a bad thing in and of itself. It exists in every organization, and it is a fact of organizational life that cannot be disputed. Even those schools that would fancy themselves as non-power schools have powerful individuals inside: it could be upper school science teacher whom everyone considers as the center of that division's life, the middle school music teacher without whose support the schedule won't work properly, or the lower school grade-level teacher who is [you fill in the blank]. Dealing with power is something we must all do, and Pfeffer suggests that you (yes, you!) acquire more of it, should you wish to aid in effecting change at any level.
You don't need to be a senior administrator to have power, however; anyone can have it. As he underscores, however, should you choose to seek professional advancement someday, you will need it; or, at the very least, your chances for promotion will increase if you have it.
Part sociological observation, part self-help manual, Pfeffer's book is very helpful in understanding where power comes from, where it resides, and how one can increase one's power. An unexpected outcome, perhaps, is that the book also serves to point out (in the reader's mind) those folks in schools who desparately desire power, but who lack it in abundance...and the reader can see clearly why those folks lack power, even if they are in senior positions. A frequent culprit is intelligence: the notion that being smart somehow automatically earns you power. Wrong! You can be the most intelligent person in the room, but be the least powerful as well.
The best leaders, Pfeffer suggests, are those who understand the role that power plays--in getting them into top leadership positions, in exercising their influence to effect change, and to do good unto others by helping them to expand their power.
Power = influence and centrality within an organization and/or an industry. It doesn't have to be negative.