“A refreshing and enlightening new perspective on what it means to be powerful.”—Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet

We all know what it looks like to use power badly. But how much do we really know about how to use power well?
 
There is so much we get wrong about power: who has it, what it looks like, and the role it plays in our lives. Grounded in over two decades’ worth of scientific research and inspired by the popular class of the same name at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Acting with Power offers a new and eye-opening paradigm that overturns everything we thought we knew about the nature of power.

Although we all feel powerless sometimes, we have more power than we tend to believe. Power exists in every relationship, not just at the top of big institutions. It isn’t merely a function of status or hierarchy, either. It’s about how much we are needed and how well we take care of other people.

We often assume that power flows to those with the loudest voice or the most commanding presence. But, in fact, true power is often much quieter and more deferential than we realize. Moreover, it’s not just how much power we have but how we use it that determines how powerful we actually are.

Actors aren’t the only ones who play roles for a living. We all make choices about how to use the power that comes with our given circumstances. We aren’t always cast in the roles we desire—or the ones we feel prepared to play. Some of us struggle to step up and be taken more seriously, while others have trouble standing back and ceding the spotlight. 

In Acting with Power, Deborah Gruenfeld shows how we can get more comfortable with power by adopting an actor’s mindset. Because power isn’t a personal attribute. It’s a part we play in someone else’s story.
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