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Unit IV Essay: Examining Exemplary Leaders in Managing Diversity   The purpose of this assignment is to examine the significance of authentic leadership commitment when managing diversity.   For this assignment, write a minimum 850-word essay about Kenneth Chenault of American Express (approximately three pages). Incorporate the attached article plus 2 other sources to support the ideas you present in your essay.   Include an introduction as well as the following elements in your essay. Please use HEADINGS that correspond to these elements:   1. Leader’s Background: What is the professional background of this leader? Is there any personal information or experience that led to his or her passion for managing diversity? 2. Former Status of Diversity in the Organization: Describe the status of the organization before the leader became a part of the organization. What role did diversity play before this leader came on-board? 3. Leader’s Approach to Diversity and Inclusion: What is the leader’s perspective or philosophy on diversity management? What were the diversity-related goals implemented by the leader? How does the leader put that philosophy into practice, as his/her approach to diversity management? Which strategies did the leader implement to transform the way in which the organization managed diversity? 4. Leader’s Diversity Management Outcomes: What is the current status of the organization, in terms of diversity and inclusion? How did this leader impact the organization’s overall success?  5. Conclusion: Summarize the points you presented in your paper, and provide any concluding remarks.   Your paper should be in APA style, be sure to cite all your sources. SEE ATTACHED FILE.


Examining Exemplary Leadership in Managing Diversity


Introduction. 2

Leader’s Background. 2

Former Status of Diversity at AmEx. 3

Chenault’s Approach to Diversity and Inclusion. 4

Leader Diversity Management Outcomes. 5

Conclusion. 5

References. 6


            For one to be a successful leader, they have to develop personally as well as professional skills that will enable them to perform at their best. One of the most vital aspects of leadership and success is the ability to manage diversity. The world is continuously being transformed into a global village where an understanding of diversity and the ability to manage a diverse workforce is important for business success. Different cultures require specific skills and this explains why companies must align their organizational goals depending on their country of operation and the diversity of the workforce. Kenneth Chenault, currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Express (AmEx) has forged a successful leadership career out of his ability to manage diversity.


Leader’s Background

            Chenault is one of the best known CEOs to have led American Express (AmEx). He was born in 1951, and grew up in Mineola, New York. Chenault has had a successful professional career that started with him working as an attorney before changing into business. He joined the AmEx in 1981 and worked his way up the ladder until he became the CEO of AmEx in 2001. He is among the first African Americans to head a fortune 500 company. His rise to the helm of AmEx has been attributed to his top performance, excellence, and finesse that he has displayed throughout his career (Whigham-Desir, 1999). Chenault joined AmEx at a time when the company’s merchandizing department was languishing. His role in reviving the department and guiding the team to significant success earned him recognition in the company. He managed to revive the merchandizing department through entering into corporate partnerships with lucrative companies that included the Delta Airlines. In 1997, Chenault was rewarded by being appointed the Chief Operating Officer of AmEx (Whigham-Desir, 1999). He later rose to become the CEO of the company in 2001 and is credited with providing exemplary leadership to the company even in times of worst economic crisis. Chenault has also provided professional duties in academic, civic, and professional organizations.

Chenault’s ability to manage diversity has been driven by his obsession to make a difference in the lives of African Americans. His nature of being reserved and at the same time outgoing has also endeared him to most people that he has interacted with. Chenault also possesses unique traits. He is thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, and can express himself clearly when expressing his advice (Whigham-Desir, 1999). Chenault has also got the ability to customize advice on personal management, business development, and leadership to his own situation. This ability has endeared him to most of the AmEx workers who enjoy his leadership style.

Former Status of Diversity at AmEx

When Chenault joined American Express, he received a workforce with low motivation because of the dwindling success that the company had been experiencing. He had to figure out ways that he would use to motivate the workers to become a high performing team. At the time of joining the company, AmEx had no elaborate policies that dealt with diversity matters. In fact, the organization only looked at diversity from a racial lens and ignored the other aspects that included gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic background, as well as physical appearance. The top leadership showed no appreciation to the differences amongst its employees which made the workers feel less valued and accepted. Apart from low morale as a result of poor performance of the organization, Chenault had to deal with the diversity issues in order to restore workforce moral as well as engagement. He had to develop a vision that would stir all its employees globally to work towards attainment of the organizational goals. Chenault believed that increasing workforce moral and engagement entailed making them feel respect and valued by the organization.


Chenault’s Approach to Diversity and Inclusion

Chenault highly values diversity in the workplace. According to American Express.com (2015), he acknowledges that American Express has become a stronger company than before due to its investment in workforce diversity. The company is now able to exploit the different perspective provided by diversity in order to remain innovative. The recognition and proper management of diversity has allowed the company to tap from all manner of disciplines that are provided by a diverse workforce (Alexander, Havercome, &Mujtaba, 2015). Chenault has managed diversity at AmEx by planning and implementing systems and practices of organization so that the advantages of diversity are tapped while the disadvantages are reduced. The managerial decision-making has involved appreciation and appropriate response to the needs, beliefs, attitudes, as well as values of the diverse workforce. Chenault has corrected the misconceptions that previously existed in the organization by providing diversity training (Alexander, Havercome, &Mujtaba, 2015). This has helped in creating positive relationships in the workplace so that skills and talents of diverse employees are positively exploited.

Leader Diversity Management Outcomes

Chenault has implemented an effective management process that involves planning, organizing, leading and controlling that has resulted in improved employee motivation and consequently engagement. The employees are able to relate with one another positively hence promoting the achievement of organization goals in a conflict free environment (Mujtaba, 2007). The focus on managing diversity has resulted in high performance that resulted into the growth of the company.


Managing diversity is important in all organization due to the effects of globalization. Managers have the task of developing diversity management policies that would lead to positive interaction within the organizations. A well-designed workforce management structure makes the employees feel valued and respected hence improving their motivation and engagement. Chenault successfully created a turnaround in AmEx fortunes by increasing employee motivation and engagement through a well structure diversity management process. The workforce, thus, feels valued and respected.


Alexander, V., Havercome, C., &Mujtaba, B. G. (2015). Effectively Managing Employees to Get Results in a Diverse Workplace such as American Express. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly7(1), 13.

American Express.com (2015). Annual Report. Retrieved from http://ir.americanexpress.com/Cache/1500069129.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1500069129&iid=102700

Mujtaba, B. (2007). Workforce diversity management: Challenges, competencies and strategies (pp. 207-229). Llumina Press.

Whigham-Desir, M. (1999). Leadership Has its Rewards. Black Enterprise 30(2). 72-85.

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