Do Women and People of Color Face Unique Challenges in Acquiring Power and Influence in Organizations Today?

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Let’s begin with Frank Fountain, an African American male, who grew up on a farm in the southern United States. This within itself can create a whole set of issues. Prior to attending business school, he served in the Peace Corps where he volunteered in West Bengal, India. In 1973, Frank Fountain received his Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the Wharton School of Business.

Not so far into the future, he started his career at Chrysler Corporation as an investment analyst. He remained in the finance world for approximately twenty years until he accepted a position in the company’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Currently, Frank Fountain is Chrysler Corporation’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs (Executive Leadership Council, 2008).

Paula Banks, on the other hand, is an African American female from Chicago, Illinois, who started her career in 1972 as a management trainee with Sears, Roebuck and Company and did extremely well as a line manager. She advanced through store-management positions and in 1975 accepted a special human resources job. Paula Banks was named President of the Sears Foundation and after 24 years with the company and then accepted the position of President of the Amoco Foundation.

Upon Amoco’s merger with BP, she accepted a position in London which expanded her expertise into the global world arena. Currently, Paula Banks is Senior Vice President of the Global Diversity/Inclusion and Organizational Partnerships at PepsiCo, Incorporated (Executive Leadership Council, 2008).

Mapping the Strategy

For the most part, Frank Fountain attributed much of his success in acquiring corporate power and influence to referent power and expert power (Anonymous, n.d.). One can explain that referent power is prevalent with charismatic leaders. Keep in mind that charismatic leaders are ones that involve the emotions and can move the masses. Such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Ceasar Chavez. These people use networking in the workplace to gain a group of peers that they can rely on and hopefully call upon when needed.

Expert power is common with subject matter experts. Your knowledge is power. Usually these leaders have extensive background and training in their field of expertise. Frank Fountain started out at the beginning of his career with Chrysler Corporation by building strong and supportive relationships with several of his peers. Specifically, they would meet monthly to network, discussing different topics that were important to the group.

This developed into a beneficial support network for Frank Fountain as well as the other people in the group. As time progressed, people moved to different jobs with the organization. When people in the group needed a replacement it was easy for the group to get who they wanted on the list of candidates. In the end, this group became extremely powerful within the organization.

They didn’t meet secretly, or exclude others from joining; they successfully leveraged each other to get what they needed and it worked for all of them. Frank Fountain’s expert power comes from his 20 years working in the finance department. His expertise along with his networking abilities ensured he was well known within the organization.

Fountain’s numerous finance assignments throughout the company provided him with an advantage over many of his counterparts because that widen his perspective of the organization. This proved extremely advantageous for him in obtaining corporate power and influence. Even in the most difficult times the organization was experiencing with the various departments, he was able to work well with all involved and he was able to maintain his loyalty to his boss while networking with other corporate leaders. Loyalty is a very important part of the corporate environment, and it’s even more important to some than others.

Frank Fountain cultivated...
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