Jeffrey Pfeffer

Inquire About This Speaker

Renowned Authority on Power and Influence, Turning Knowledge into Action, Evidence-Based Management, and Building Cultures that Achieve Competitive Advantage Through People; Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; Author, “Dying for a Paycheck” (2018)

Biography

The COVID-19 pandemic is illuminating some hard truths about workplace cultures, leadership and people management, posing unique challenges to businesses. Fortunately, Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has a deceptively simple solution: increase profits and improve performance by putting people first. His prescient message to leaders in every industry is that for your company to achieve its highest potential, you must put employees at the center of your strategy.

“COVID has changed everything and nothing,” says Pfeffer, author of “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance ― and What We Can Do About It” (Harper Business, March 2018). “What leaders need to do is precisely what they should have been doing all along. The best organizations were already dealing with issues that COVID brought to the fore, such as access to childcare, economic insecurity, and mental and physical well-being. What you need to do to respond to COVID is not that different from what you need to do on a daily basis, with or without a pandemic.”

For decades, Pfeffer has been teaching leaders in every sector how to gain a competitive advantage through their workforce. His ideas for user-centered job design, which places employees at the center of rethinking how jobs are organized, are backed by case studies of companies that found success through this approach, including OneMedical, Southwest Airlines, DaVita Dialysis, and Kimberly-Clark. His approach is rooted in an understanding that employee engagement and innovation lead to customer loyalty, productivity and profits. Particularly in times of stress, there is enormous payoff from providing employees easy and affordable access to mental health services. He also encourages leaders to actively build a culture where the stigma around mental health issues is removed. Pfeffer says companies can go a long way toward bringing emotional well-being – the most important enabler of strong workplace performance – to the fore of conversations, adding that this is even more urgent during a crisis.

Becoming a Powerful Leader

An authority on effective leadership principles and developing influence to get things done, Pfeffer has long educated managers on power – how to attain it, wield it and grow it. As the mind behind the Stanford Graduate School of Business program’s most sought after and highest rated electives, his primary lesson is that power shouldn’t make us uncomfortable, as it is an omnipresent feature of organizational life. Leading with practicality, Pfeffer shows that power dynamics are inherent in social structures and, in many cases, political skill, group performance and building influence are more fundamental to success at work than technical ability itself.

As companies prepare to do business in a post-pandemic economy, decision makers have a unique opportunity to rethink old ways and replace them with practices that pay off for everyone – investors, management, employees and the bottom line. Trusted for his straight-talking and clear-eyed delivery style, Pfeffer teaches executives how to achieve extraordinary growth through an evidence-based management approach, helping them adopt mindsets that will serve them and their employees well into the future, regardless of market conditions.

###

 Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School and, for the past 14 years, IESE in Barcelona. He has presented in over 40 countries and currently serves on the advisory boards of multiple companies, including Collective Health and Quorso. His work has been published in Fortune.com, BNET, The Washington Post, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, and BBC’s Capital. He is the author or co-author of 15 books including, “Dying for a Paycheck,” “Leadership BS” and “The Human Equation.”

Jeffrey Pfeffer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

A-Z Name

Pfeffer, Jeffrey

Biography

The COVID-19 pandemic is illuminating some hard truths about workplace cultures, leadership and people management, posing unique challenges to businesses. Fortunately, Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has a deceptively simple solution: increase profits and improve performance by putting people first. His prescient message to leaders in every industry is that for your company to achieve its highest potential, you must put employees at the center of your strategy.

“COVID has changed everything and nothing,” says Pfeffer, author of “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance ― and What We Can Do About It” (Harper Business, March 2018). “What leaders need to do is precisely what they should have been doing all along. The best organizations were already dealing with issues that COVID brought to the fore, such as access to childcare, economic insecurity, and mental and physical well-being. What you need to do to respond to COVID is not that different from what you need to do on a daily basis, with or without a pandemic.”

For decades, Pfeffer has been teaching leaders in every sector how to gain a competitive advantage through their workforce. His ideas for user-centered job design, which places employees at the center of rethinking how jobs are organized, are backed by case studies of companies that found success through this approach, including OneMedical, Southwest Airlines, DaVita Dialysis, and Kimberly-Clark. His approach is rooted in an understanding that employee engagement and innovation lead to customer loyalty, productivity and profits. Particularly in times of stress, there is enormous payoff from providing employees easy and affordable access to mental health services. He also encourages leaders to actively build a culture where the stigma around mental health issues is removed. Pfeffer says companies can go a long way toward bringing emotional well-being – the most important enabler of strong workplace performance – to the fore of conversations, adding that this is even more urgent during a crisis.

Becoming a Powerful Leader

An authority on effective leadership principles and developing influence to get things done, Pfeffer has long educated managers on power – how to attain it, wield it and grow it. As the mind behind the Stanford Graduate School of Business program’s most sought after and highest rated electives, his primary lesson is that power shouldn’t make us uncomfortable, as it is an omnipresent feature of organizational life. Leading with practicality, Pfeffer shows that power dynamics are inherent in social structures and, in many cases, political skill, group performance and building influence are more fundamental to success at work than technical ability itself.

As companies prepare to do business in a post-pandemic economy, decision makers have a unique opportunity to rethink old ways and replace them with practices that pay off for everyone – investors, management, employees and the bottom line. Trusted for his straight-talking and clear-eyed delivery style, Pfeffer teaches executives how to achieve extraordinary growth through an evidence-based management approach, helping them adopt mindsets that will serve them and their employees well into the future, regardless of market conditions.

###

 Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School and, for the past 14 years, IESE in Barcelona. He has presented in over 40 countries and currently serves on the advisory boards of multiple companies, including Collective Health and Quorso. His work has been published in Fortune.com, BNET, The Washington Post, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, and BBC’s Capital. He is the author or co-author of 15 books including, “Dying for a Paycheck,” “Leadership BS” and “The Human Equation.”

Jeffrey Pfeffer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Hard Truths About Leadership: How to Improve Trust and Make Leadership Development More Effective

In Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s eyes, most of the $20 billion leadership industry is “edutainment” that bears no resemblance to the real world or lived experience. We do not suffer for want of blogs, TED Talks, executive development seminars and conferences that promise to impart glossy and exclusive truths of leadership. Yet almost every review of job satisfaction, employee engagement and leadership efficacy shows persistent failures and problems, resulting in shorter tenures for leaders and decreased trust among employees. If you’re wondering what your organization can do to fix these industry-wide leadership crises, Stanford University Professor Jeff Pfeffer’s advice is to look to the evidence. In this talk, Pfeffer focuses on practical suggestions for enhancing both personal and organizational success, with some surprising conclusions. Should leaders really be their most authentic selves? Is there room for autonomy in high-level leadership? How valuable are humility and honesty? Pfeffer’s deliberative approach shows how to cut through the noise of thousands of leadership experts via insights from social science to reduce turnover and unlearn misguided feel-good strategies.

Management in the Time of COVID: What to Do Now

The spread of COVID-19 has accelerated many business shifts that began before the pandemic. But according to Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, what organizations are calling best practices now were also best practices before the crisis. Measures like addressing threats to our collective health, reducing economic insecurity and workplace stress, and recognizing and supporting employees’ familial responsibilities are necessary not just during the COVID-19 crisis, but at all times. In this talk, Pfeffer explains with vivid examples that the current health crisis doesn’t change the actions good leaders and good companies should take; it just makes them more urgent.

Getting Things Done: Building Power and Influence

How do leaders get things done? Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer knows the answers. In this practical examination of power—how to attain it, how to wield it and how to grow it—Pfeffer demonstrates how to overcome resistance, influence behavior, negotiate for salary and job responsibilities, and effectively implement executive strategy. Though power acquisition is inherently uncomfortable to many, Pfeffer shows that power isn’t all Machiavellian tendencies; it is also the foundational ability to succeed in the workplace, even beyond technical competence. Getting outside of our comfort zones into the murky waters of organizational politics is simply another index of job competence that shows we are capable of effecting meaningful change by challenging assumptions. With energy, resilience, ambition, tolerance for conflict and a keen understanding of social science, even the politically unskilled can become powerful.

Competitive Advantage Through People: Building Profits by Putting People First

Despite long-standing evidence that a committed workforce is essential for success, firms continue to attach too little importance to their workers’ well-being, says Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. Instead of focusing mainly on growing through mergers and acquisitions, improving existing technology, or being first to market, companies can achieve success by placing values above strategy, implementation over planning and by striving to get the best out of all employees. In this presentation, Pfeffer demonstrates the importance of flipping the script in the quest for cultural excellence by treating each day with the generosity and understanding of “bring your kid to work day.” To elicit innovation and creativity from their employees, organizations must vigilantly address issues of economic insecurity, workplace stress and mental health. By sharing original frameworks for nurturing a healthier culture, Pfeffer teaches leaders how to resist traditional management pitfalls and stale practices that continue to dominate management theory.

Dying for A Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance

By Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s estimation, the workplace is now the fifth leading cause of death, costing the economy $1.5T each year – statistics that are only compounded by the new impacts of pandemic-related stress and job insecurity. The direct effects of this enduring health emergency include high turnover, presenteeism (emotional and mental absence from work), and barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion. Against the backdrop of a 2% per year rise in suicide rates and pervasive chronic disease, Pfeffer promotes a visionary solution: treat productivity as a human sustainability issue. As demonstrated in this presentation, no trade-off exists between health and economic performance; instead, companies can actually suffer reduced profit by not investing in employee well-being. By grounding his work in observable trends and outcomes, Pfeffer helps leaders bring all types of health (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) out of the closet through open discussion so we can stop resigning our fates to the perceived costs of doing business.

Overcoming the Knowing-Doing Gap: Turning Knowledge into Action

Meetings, analyses and presentations are meant to produce measurable results, so why do plans often stall before change occurs? Employee engagement, M&A integration and myriad other endeavors frequently suffer from lack of follow-through, despite the best-laid intentions. In this presentation, Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer uncovers important barriers to using and implementing knowledge, showing leaders how to build a culture of action instead of just talk and analysis. He offers examples of companies that have done it right, sharing strategies and tools to help eliminate fear, measure what matters, promote the right leaders and abolish destructive internal competition. With the arsenal of tactics that Pfeffer provides, you too can help your organization close the knowing-doing gap and build a culture of implementation.

Challenge Assumptions with Evidence-Based Management Practices

Many organizations decide what to do based on the past experience of senior leaders, ideologies and beliefs, and casual observations of other companies’ actions. None of these represent effective ways of making decisions, says Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. Knowledge about “what works and why” is too infrequently consulted, which provides an opportunity for information arbitrage in company management that is similar to arbitrage opportunities in the financial markets—except the returns are both larger and less likely to be immediately imitated away. In this talk, Pfeffer shows why companies need to practice evidence-based management and employ a decision making process to uncover hidden assumptions and confront leaders with what they know to be true.

The Human Equation: How to Build a Competitive Advantage Through People

Is it possible to maximize profits through improved employee satisfaction metrics? According to Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, the most straightforward path to either is the path to both. In this presentation, based on his book, “Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People,” Pfeffer gives particular attention to layoffs as a productivity roadblock, toxic management practices that foster unhealthy internal competition, and the misguided urge to curtail independence with more surveillance during COVID-19. In their place, he promotes higher wages as a form of cost reduction and better public policy to protect human sustainability. By encouraging leadership to adopt a growth mindset over an evaluation mindset, Pfeffer shows that management can move beyond corporate policy to genuine care for employees in a way that also yields returns.

Media

Array

Books & Research

Array

Workshops

Management for the Modern Leader

Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has a rare ability to see the world as it is while also upholding strong convictions about what it should be. A renowned expert on human resource best practices and how leaders can gain a competitive advantage and acquire influence, Pfeffer’s workshops offer a chiropractic snap for outdated processes and ways of thinking. By employing a no-nonsense approach to leadership and HR, Pfeffer’s evidence-based methods and user-centered job design framework reinvigorate management and increase employee engagement. With intellectual clarity, he shows leaders in your organization how to cultivate continuous self-improvement using a signature style that is both incisive and direct.

Recommendations

“Jeff Pfeffer stands as one of the great management thinkers of our time. Here in this important work, he challenges us to embrace a hippocratic oath of leadership: first do no harm. Diagnostic and prescriptive, passionate and incisive, provocative and inspired – Pfeffer yet again makes a noble contribution.”

— Jim Collins, author “Good to Great”

“Jeff possesses two exceedingly rare traits; he is both a scholar and also a practitioner. He has the uncanny ability to apply the theoretical to the practical; to be a dispassionate observer of human behavior in large and small organizational settings, drawing lessons from what is observed, and then able to reach a variety of audiences, enabling them to grasp, through his teaching and consulting genius, what they need to know to overcome the many inhibitors to efficiency, productivity and stability in diverse settings. What distinguishes Jeff from the many other consultants, speakers, trainers and faculty with whom I have worked over the years, is his authenticity as a teacher. His ability to connect with the people with whom he is working, to bring executives, managers and students, to a point where actually learn and seek to change their ways of knowing and ways of doing, the latter two being the sine qua non of real change in any enterprise.”

— Daniel J. Julius, Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Alaska System of Higher Education, Former President, College and University Personnel Association  and Academy of Academic Personnel Administrators

“Jeff Pfeffer is the rarest of creatures in the world of business thought leaders: he is substantial and entertaining. There are countless professional business edutainers completely lacking in substance.  And there are thousands of business academics who do rigorous research but put audiences to sleep.  Jeff is one of a handful that combines deep and rigorous research with a delivery that inspires and holds an audience.”

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto

“Jeff has a natural, conversational style which combined with his command of the subject and marketing sense result in entertaining and informative presentations.”

— Shanda Bahles, former Managing Partner of El Dorado Ventures 

“Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer is simply one of the best Management thinkers and speakers in the world. And our company, HSM, works with only the very best. His ability to put the People context with business results is unmatched. I recommend him to any company.”

— José Salibi Neto, Co-Founder & Chief Knowledge Officer, HSM Brasil

 

Praise for “Dying for a Paycheck”

“With precision and insight, Pfeffer lays bare the true cost of toxic workplaces, providing a timely wakeup call for any leader who thought a good workplace was simply a ‘nice to have’. As Pfeffer shows, it is a fundamental right in our fast changing society. ‘Dying for a Paycheck’ is an essential book from one of our greatest organizational scholars.”

— Professor Lynda Gratton, co-author of “The 100-Year Life”

“Pfeffer examines the heretofore uncharted relationship between dysfunctional workplace practices and employee health. ‘Dying for a Paycheck’ is a compelling and important read for all of us seeking to produce a healthy and engaged organization.”

— Gary Loveman, former CEO, Caesars Entertainment and president of Consumer and Health Services, Aetna

“In this urgent and essential book, Pfeffer lays bare the hidden costs of the gig economy, employment instability, and many modern management practices. If you’ve got a job, you must read this book.”

— Laszlo Bock, CEO and Co-Founder of Humu & author of “Work Rules!”

“This is simply the most important business book I have read in a decade. As Pfeffer’s sharp analysis points out, the relationship between people and organizations is flat-out broken. Offering a range of solutions, “Dying for a Paycheck” will start a revolution.”

— Tom Rath, author of “STRENGTHSFINDER 2.0.”

“This profound book on personal well-being and organizational work environments should change how work is done and literally save lives.  Using Pfeffer’s insights, employees can take responsibility for their physical and mental health and leaders can create abundant organizations that win.”

— Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Similar Speakers

Array