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Kinds of Power Paperback – January 1, 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Power in business, politics and the world of work, to most people, implies competition, domination, control and reward. Rejecting this conventional notion of power as limited and stultifying, Jungian psychoanalyst and prolific author Hillman reconceptualizes power in terms of sustaining continuity, conserving, teaching, caring, bringing out the innate potential in each person or task. Growth, to corporations, means bottom-line results, bigger equals better. But to Hillman, growth is a process of shedding worn-out identities, cleaning up messes, pondering the implications of one's actions for the wider world and for future generations. The core of this highly reflective inquiry consists of short explorations?mythological, philosophical, etymological, psychological?of concepts like influence, tyranny, ambition, office and decision. Readers seeking immediate practical guidance will be disappointed; others may find in this humane essay more subtle and long-lasting keys to empowerment.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Power has been credited with being an aphrodisiac and blamed for being a corrupting force. Psychoanalyst Hillman points out that there are many different kinds of power and that the execution of power has many styles and nuances. Hillman has written 20 books in the fields of Jungian psychology, depth psychology, and psychotherapy, but here he targets business and organizational leaders with his analysis of 20 different kinds of power, including tyranny, charisma, veto, and prestige, among others. He considers the nature of each and suggests when, how, and why to wield each in turn. In the past, power has been used to increase growth and efficiency, but now, so Hillman explains, it should be used to accomplish the goals of service and maintenance. In contrast to the often simplistic managerial-advice books that are currently popular, this one, at times, is difficult to read, for it is filled with theoretical observations, mythical allusions, and complex ideas; it is also always thoughtful and thought provoking. David Rouse --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385489676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385489676
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ronald Scheer on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
James Hillman is often thought of as a demanding and difficult writer -- in need of being "popularized" by someone like Thomas Moore ("Care of the Soul") to reach a wider audience. And there may be some truth to this, but Hillman can also be remarkably accessible, as in this thought-provoking book on the "intelligent uses" of power.
We may think that power needs no explanation. It is what it is. But, as Hillman points out, that belief gives it unconscoius power over us. Never examining power, we do not see the many ways it permeates our daily lives, influencing our behavior and our choices. If we think of power as "force," we do not appreciate its subtler uses, e.g., influence, authority, or energy, and we do not see that problems about power may have a wide array of solutions.
Hillman is fascinated by words, because words represent ideas; embedded in words are the entire histories of ideas. He is also fascinated by the process of "entertaining" ideas, and this book is a record of one brilliant and mercurial mind entertaining the idea of power, examining the many ways we can look at it (he devotes a chapter to each of 24 "kinds of power"), as well as the way its various meanings govern how we see the world around us. For instance, ideas about power lead individuals or groups of people to regard themselves as disempowered (victims); ideas about power may underlie the desire to own guns.
Because economic power rules the lives of almost everyone (yet another idea about power), Hillman directs his book to anyone involved with businesss. And he means business in the broadest sense of that word -- anyone whose life is structured by the getting and spending of money.
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Format: Paperback
Other reviewers have touched on the positive aspects of Hillman's book. It is a nice study of power and its intricacies from a depth-psychological, multidisciplinary, poetic perspective. A reader new to Hillman won't find this work as technical as others (e.g., Re-Visioning Psychology).
As someone who worked in Corporate America for 15 years, I feel uncomfortable with psychologizing repetition, control, leadership, etc. without giving due emphasis to the enormously widespread pain and suffering these cause to those of us subjected to them by bosses who belong in daily therapy but are too narcissistic to ever go there. It's very nice to link up repetition with a deep need to polish, or to give a nod to the "born" leader--but unless we also emphasize the shadow side of these states and qualities, they all get taken right to the bank. I must say I'm glad that some of the people I've had to report to never came across this book; they'd have used it as an excuse to be MORE controlling, intrusive, demanding, and downright tyrannical.
I can't quite figure out why Hillman wrote this book. His nod to people in business, maybe? An attempt to explain a bit of psychology to them? Surprising to see the Nietzsche of depth psychology offering so many of what look like justifications for precisely the kind of corporate behavior that drives people into stress disabilities and two of my own colleagues into suicide.
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James Hillman's Kinds of Power: A Guide to Its Intelligent Uses was first published in 1995. I read it some years ago, probably closer to the time of publication, but I re-read it just in the last couple of days. I was prompted to do so after looking at some books on leadership recommend. In addition to popular books that I pulled from a couple of lists, I added Kinds of Power to Garry Wills's Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership and Leadership and Self-Deception. None of these three books were on the couple of lists that I reviewed, but each is a significant omission, which is not to diss the books that did make the popular lists, such as Delores Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals and Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence in leadership.

Hillman's book has a chapter of "leadership", but it places the issue within the context of power. Hillman was (d. 2011) a prominent voice in the tradition of Jungian psychology, and to my mind, a brilliant and engaging writer. His references range from Greek and Roman myths and etymologies to Michael Jackson & Bill Clinton. Easy to read but deeply thought. In his knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman culture, Hillman matches Wills in this mastery of these cultures, and the ability to apply those insights to the contemporary world.

Hillman's work are always thought-provoking, and readers, I'm confident readers will find recognizable examples in his many discussions. By the way, Kinds of Power was published by Doubleday/Currency, which is (or was--who can keep up with changes in publishers?) a business imprint that published some unique and worthwhile books. And while Hillman's erudition is staggering, he wrote this as for a business audience, making it accessible to a most readers .
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Format: Paperback
Hillman contends that power is not a single entity. There are many forms of power. Hillman describes a wide variety of powers, such as control, ambition, leadership, charisma, tyranny and many more. Hillman gives the reader a different perspective on each form of power. He does not judge certain types of power as being good or bad. He helps us see each kind in a new light. It is Hillman's premise that power resides in our ideas about power. We are ruled by the power of ideas. If we are to become more effective as leaders and managers, we must become aware of how we think about power. No one definition of power is adequate. We must recognize that power is multifaceted and we must be prepared to exercise power in its many forms if we are to succeed.
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