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.
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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 and managed the relationships necessary that were crucial to securing more meaningful and influential positions. To that end, it is no surprise that Frank Fountain has elevated to his current position within the organization. Paula Banks can attribute her success to expert power. Again, keep in mind that expert power is common with subject matter experts. Your knowledge is power. Paula Banks started her career as a management trainee at Sears. She thought she had her career strategically planned, but was sidetracked early and she had to rethink her career strategy.
This worked to her advantage and proved beneficial to her because it expanded her skill set within the organization. She was promised a higher level store manager position and was working as a store manager when things changed for her. Paula Banks was told that the career path to the higher level store manager would take about eight years, and that if she didn’t want to wait that long she could take a high level position in Human Resources. Her refusal to do the work was not accepted and she continued on in Human Resources.
Paula Banks’ abilities within the company brought many other opportunities that continued to broaden her qualifications. She left Sears for a high level position with Amoco and ended up doing great things in the global market when she moved to London after the merger of Amoco and BP. Having said that, Paula Banks recognized the constant shifts in terrain and adjusted to them when as it was her choice was to aspire to a top position with a large organization. She was successful in doing the best in all the jobs she was assigned to.
This level of knowledge demonstrated her exceptional abilities and talents to the leadership bringing her visibility throughout organizations she worked for. Her expertise knowledge is no doubt responsible for her impressive growth up the corporate ladder and she is currently the Senior Vice President of the Global Diversity/Inclusion and Organizational Partnerships at PepsiCo, Incorporated. Some important points to keep in mind when Acquiring Power. Acquiring corporate power and influence requires the clever use of a combination of many different talents (Cobbs & Turnock, 2003).
Both Fountain and Banks recognized this very early on, and used their abilities to receive key assignments by developing a group of key supporters, being dedicated and working hard, and proving their value as experts in their jobs. Organizations are extremely complex. This is the very way they operate. Each of your successes, or setbacks only set the stage for the next round of competition. Frank Fountain developed a group of supporters with his early on establishment of a peer networking group. This proved to work to his advantage over and over again.
He accessed the organizations communication network as a critical element for success. He also established himself as a finance expert with his 20 years of work within the finance department. This also gave him an edge over many of his counterparts as he understood the corporation on a broader scale. It will always be true that excellent performance is vital to your quest for organizational power. Demonstrate your intellect, your skills, and your performance. You determine for yourself the organizations critical problems and with your plan, you can be the one to help solve them.
Paula Banks expanded her qualifications by taking on jobs in other areas of the business. This led to many other opportunities with other corporations which included the global market. She was successful in bringing the results she desired to each environment she was involved with. In order to be successful in obtaining power and influence it is important to position yourself in the organization so you are dealing with strategically important problems. Both Fountain and Banks did this and were able obtain support at all levels of the organization as well as their outstanding expertise.
In order for you to acquire power, here are some specific suggestions to always keep in mind: •position yourself to receive early information about decisions, policies and organizational shifts •gain regular and frequent access to decision makers •strive to win additional resources, whether above average salary increases for your department, or more money, staff equipment, or space for projects •strive for desirable assignments for yourself and your subordinates, particularly those at, or near the center of organizational priorities. •work to get your ideas on the agenda at key meetings rescue a colleague, or a particular project that is in trouble •protect your boss, or the company’s image by solving a delicate problem •participate on problem solving task forces and other highly visible activities, and •know when to back off Always remember, power is most effective when it is unobtrusive. This is even more true for African American men and women who aspire to success in their organizations. Don’t flaunt your power, as you will only make enemies. Make fairness a part of your behavior and the opinions of others a part of your considerations.
Keep in mind that your positions and actions are seen as the result of rational and logical procedures and processes. Please be sure that all future references are on a stand alone page, and use headings when appropriate. References and Additional Readings Anonymous (n. d. ). Putting Power to Work. Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://www. csupomona. edu/~msharifzadeh/chapter8. html Cobbs, M. ; & Turnock, J. , (2003). Chapter 8 – Acquiring Power. In cracking the corporate code: The revealing success stories of 32 African – American executives.
New York: American Management Association. Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://www. amanet. org/books/catalog/0814407714_ch. htm Executive Leadership Council. (2008). Excerpts from cracking the corporate code. Frank Fountain. Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://www. elcinfo. com/news_publications_cracking_excerpts_fountain. htm Executive Leadership Council. (2008). Excerpts from cracking the corporate code. Paula Banks. Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://www. elcinfo. com/news_publications_cracking_excerpts_banks. htm