The Career of Nettie Seabrooks and Influence Against All Odds
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Don’t Bargain Over Positions
Nettie Seabrook’s success depended on her need to keep learning, and her belief that no one should limit themselves to the normal or natural constraints jobs or people assign them. She was determined to be flexible and open to change, and was prepared for it. In fact, Nettie Seabrook’s road the crest of opportunity as it presented itself, and her very own philosophies served her well. In Influence without Authority, Cohen & Bradford focus on “currencies” for the give and take process involved in influencing. The case study of Nettie Seabrooks proves that she was an effective influencer because she built credibility through high-quality work, competence, placing the organization’s interest first, building many relationships at all levels, visibility, and being trustworthy. Now Chief Operations Officer for the city of Detroit, MI, her career ascent had a strong foundation, and a powerful message.
In the 1950’s it was not easy for an African American women to get a job as a chemist, which was Nettie’s initial goal once she obtained her undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1955 (Cohen & Bradford, 2005). It was recommended by her college dean that she return to school and earn a degree in library science, which at least would allow her to use her knowledge as a subject matter expert. Consequently, she returned to school for two more years and got that degree (Cohen & Bradford, 2005). Nettie was then able to find a job and she accepted a position in the technology and science department at the Detroit Public Library.
Nettie married in 1958 and moved to Nashville for four years while her husband continued going to medical school (Cohen & Bradford, 2005). During this time she taught at a university, u...
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In addition, Nettie obtained a reputation of delivering and was known by everyone at GM. However, Nettie was not looking for glory nor was she looking for prestige or a higher salary. She felt as if she was just doing her job, and she owed it to herself to do the best she could do. She put the organization objectives at the forefront, and tried to figure out what others needed and just gave it to them. What made Nettie exceptional was her ability to keep going even when things got tough, her ambitious, and value driven perspective provides a good message about influence that could help us all.
Cohen, A.R., & Bradford, D.L. (2005). The Career of Nettie Seabrooks and Influence Against All
Odds. Wiley, 2nd edition.
Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1991). Getting To Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New
York: Penguin Books USA Inc.