Today many corporations are giving men and women a chance to work together and share in power and leadership positions. There are more women and people of color leading corporations today than there were a few decades ago. They are doing well in the positions that have been dominated by white males for a long time.
However, it does not mean that the business environment has changed completely in accommodating women and people of color. Women are still few at the top positions in corporations. They yield less influence and power. The Women and people of color face unique challenges in acquiring power and influence in corporations.
Women acquiring power and influence
Similarities in ways of acquiring power and influence
Women and men generally have different management styles. Women are said to perceive and use power differently than men do. For instance, in business negotiations women prefer to collaborate and come up with solutions to problems and make it a win-win situation for everyone. However, men prefer to use pressure and intimidation to get results. Sharon Patrick urges that collaboration is taken to be weakness an attribute that is undesirable in the male world which constitutes the business world. Therefore, she does business in ways that she can be a leading participant without necessarily relying on collaboration, which she knows, is risky in business (Muoio, 1998).
Likewise, Linda Chavez-Thompson knows that for a woman to acquire influence in the business environment one has to play by the rules of the real world. She knows that the society has lower expectations for women than men and this puts women at a disadvantage in corporations from the word go according to the expectations states theory. Thus, women must prove that they are worthy leaders and they will do this through their influence, which will enable them to acquire power.
Consequently, she has not allowed her male colleagues to push her around and thus earning their respect. She has had to stick to her guns when the men in her workplace wanted to relegate her to roles traditionally reserved for women such as being secretary and taking minutes in meetings. She has learnt to be honest with the men both at work and in her life in addition to herself and t has made her become an effective leader despite being a woman of color (Muoio, 1998).
These two women leaders use tactic to influence people they work with and command respect which leads to change of people’s attitudes towards them. The women have commanded respect using their expert power and altering their management styles according to the French and Raven power model.
Challenges in the workplace
Jessica Bibliowizc says women face unique challenges because of the mystery surrounding women in leadership, as people tend to be comfortable working with people who are like them. Hence, it is difficult for women to get promotions because they are few women in leadership positions. To overcome this challenge she has undertaken mentoring programs to increase women in corporations and reduce the mystery surrounding them.
Harriet Webber says women must become aggressive and act more as men because the corporate culture is still male dominated (Muoio, 1998). They should use the power use model to determine when to use hard or soft tactics in order to influence (Hall, 2007). Once in power the women can bring about change in corporations’ culture and encourage diversity. They should go for top positions in corporations because t is people at the top who yield power in corporations.
Differences in ways of acquiring power and influence
True to self
Janice Gjertsen disagrees with the women above who play the game like men in the business environment. She says that women should not try to be like men in the business world but remain true to who they are. She says that women are oriented towards building relationships while men want fast negotiations and lean towards power.
She says that aggressive women go against what it means to be women. Today corporations look for female attributes as companies lean towards creating relationships with their stakeholders. Thus, a woman who is not afraid to act like a woman in the corporate world yields power and will succeed in the male dominated world (Muoio, 1998).
Katherine D’Urso agrees with Katherine in saying that women should not expect things to change at corporations just because they are women but should take an active action towards gaining influence and power. She says that power is attractive than weakness and hence women should acquire power.
Moreover, using reward power can encourage more women to work hard towards leadership positions in companies. People are motivated to work harder by rewards and women are no exception. Kathy Kane-Zweber says that women should be comfortable in their management styles and can use their innate abilities to bring about influence in their organizations (Muoio, 1998)
Mentoring and openness
The women gain power by becoming aggressive and taking the bull by the horns. For instance, Wendy Luhabe discovered that the best way to learn about how to acquire power was by asking questions to the people in power. In addition, one must have a good relationship with the people in power and not be afraid of showing their vulnerability.
She says many women are afraid of showing their vulnerability something that men do hence learn about power. She also started a mentoring program for the people of color to encourage them to join the work place and make corporations open to women and people of color.
Similarly, Sallie Ewing stresses that women must be made part of the management in a corporation. Women in leadership positions should look at the real matters in a company and not just focus on the matters they think need attention. This way they will not be accused of offering solutions or giving unsolicited and they will acquire influence and power (Muoio, 1998).
The women agree that women need to increase in the management levels. They also agree that women need to yield power because power enables one to lead a corporation. The women are of the opinion that women should take action in bringing about change of attitudes towards women and people of color in the workplace. Some say that women must behave like men if they are to be successful in acquiring power and influence while others say that they do not have to behave like men.
They say the women should be true to themselves and use their innate abilities to build better working relationships in the workplace because the trend is changing and more companies are looking for leaders with female attributes. Women and people of color must be empowered to overcome the unique challenges they face at corporations. Unless women and people of color acquire influence and power, change at the corporations will keep moving at a snail speed.
Hall, A. (2007). Influence: The essence of leadership. Retrieved April 6, 2011, from
(Muoio, A. (1998). Women and Men, Work and Power. Retrieved April 6, 2011, from