Power Outage: Rebekah Brooks–Jeffrey Pfeffer

On the HBR blog, Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, uses Rebekah Brooks’ current situation as an example of the risks inherent in pursuing power and breaking the rules:

“If you don’t do something to differentiate yourself and stand out, you will blend into the background and never get promoted. But if you plunge into a strategy of differentiation and flout social norms, you can lose the sense of where the line really is, until it has been crossed and people are calling for your head.”

“Power, Rule-Breaking and Rebekah Brooks”, Jeffrey Pfeffer, HBR Blog

UPDATE: I wrote this before the news of Brooks’ resignation; the ultimate price of power gone wrong.  Her resignation also illustrates the importance of timing.  Had she resigned as soon as the story broke, Brooks would have looked strong, decisive and honourable (despite the nature of the allegations) – as did Andy Coulson, at the time of his own resignation from News International.  Resigning now, she risks looking weak, desperate and “pushed”.  Whatever the truth, and one can understand her assertion that she felt obliged to remain “on the bridge” putting things right, as she more than anyone will know perception is reality.

And on the subject of perception, I was struck how for their front page story, the BBC has chosen the most sympathetic picture I’ve seen of Brooks since the scandal broke.  Not the haggard and hunted image which has been common these last couple of weeks but a contemplative and flattering, Pre-Raphaelite close-up.



About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (http://burningpine.com).
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