Category Archives: Woman Leadership

Catch-22: When I Want to Take Charge but They Want Me to Take Care

What would you do if someone called you a b—– for doing your job very well?

At a recently concluded workshop for women leaders, one young woman sought me out for some advice. She is the first woman in a sales role in a male dominated industry and her challenge was: “I am a top performer in a Sales role, exceed my targets always, and am on the fast track program for rising leaders. But I face heckling from my team that I am too aggressive, pushy etc. I also heard that my peers pass unsavory remarks, urging my team to be ‘careful’ with me, or move over to other teams. I am worried that I don’t enjoy the kind of rapport or respect my (male) peers have with their team.”

This isn’t unusual. When I posted this challenge in our network of women leaders across industries, there was a chorus of virtual head nodding!

“In my role, I have to drive for results and deal with problems head on – but I was so astounded when I heard that my team doesn’t like me because I’m too ‘assertive’.”

“I am very good with pushing my way through challenges, but I often hear comments like ‘bullish’, ‘aggressive’ and they are not said as a strength!”

“I was shocked to see that the engagement survey feedback from my team said I am ‘Too pushy’, ‘Too assertive’, ‘Needs to tone down’.”

Assertive: adj. Having or showing a confident and forceful personality.

When asked to rate women and men leaders on some key aspects of behavior, senior-level executives in the United States ascribed ‘Taking Care’ skills to women and ‘Taking Charge’ skills to men.

If a woman is assertive, she is:

1.      Trying too hard to adopt  masculine behaviors

2.      Not liked by colleagues and subordinates

If a woman is not assertive and adopts traditionally feminine behaviors, she is:

1.      Liked by everyone

2.      But not perceived as ready for a leadership role

No wonder most of the coaching assignment requests I receive for middle management women is either that they are ‘too soft’ or ‘too aggressive’!

In such a catch-22 situation many women tend to create an internal glass ceiling for themselves and lean back in their careers rather than face the repercussions of these perceptions.

Reconciling and managing this ‘double bind’ is a key challenge that coaches and managers have to facilitate in women leaders to enable them to make the leap to the next level.

Some experiences shared by women who have been there:

a)     In a sales head role, figured out the toughest & biggest calls the team had: went all out and helped them close it on field.

b)     Played devil’s advocate to help them make quality proposals/presentations.

c)      Joined them for tea breaks and other opportunities to build rapport.

d)     Showed them how my aggression helped convince management for a better portion of the pie when it came to incentives.

e)     Fought tooth and nail for their promotion & hikes.

Managers can play a big role too, in setting these perceptions right; I remember one manager correcting a peer “I see her as passionate about her work and extremely competent, not aggressive!”

The role of the organization too, in creating an inclusive culture that responds positively to ‘masculine behaviors’ manifested by women leaders, cannot be over stated.

In truly inclusive workplaces, all employees, irrespective of gender, are able to leverage both masculine & feminine behaviors without having to face a backlash.

How do you deal with this Catch 22, as a woman leader? How do you enable the women in your teams/organizations to traverse this?

 

 

Kalpana Tatavarti is Founder of Parity Consulting & Training pvt ltd, a boutique firm focused on accelerating women leadership. www.parityconsulting.in

Read more of her articles at www.womanworklife.in

The Honeyed Choice

 

Glimpses into the life of a working woman:

Scene one: Sitting up late into the night (morning actually) making a project report for a client, one of many such nights in the last 9 months. The project isn’t going as well as I originally thought it would; Feeling dejected, tired and wondering if it’s all worth it.

Enter Husband with Honeyed Choice: “Why don’t you slow down a bit? You don’t really have to work this hard. Take a break, enjoy yourself and relax.”

Scene Two: Catching a flight to New York for a client meeting; have to get back and then off to Hong Kong for a leadership conference. Running a cold.

Call from mother with Honeyed Choice: “Why do you have to work like this? Your husband is earning so much, isn’t he?”

Scene Three: Applying for the role of Sales head in my organization. Requires a lot of field work, working with dealers.

A well meaning senior colleague suggests the Honeyed Choice: “Why don’t you take a less heavy role? Something where you don’t have to deal with the harsher aspects of sales? And spend more time with family.”

Well intentioned advice in all the three instances, but the message that comes to me consistently (for many women, all through life’s turning points) is “You always have the choice to drop out of your career” or “Your career is not important”

This Honeyed Choice is always at the back of my mind; beckoning me alluringly into slow pedaling on my career; making me look at my career very short term; and taking non-career enhancing decisions.

When I was talking about this over a cup of tea, I remember a woman friend telling me “You know Kalpana, I am very clear that I don’t want concern that belittles or dilutes my aspirations; I want concern that supports & encourages me!”

“I ask for support whenever I make tough choices, and encouragement, when someone asks me to ‘take it easy.’ And when I am concerned for my niece, daughter or female report I say, “You are doing a great job! I am so proud of you… keep going! Take that tough role, and take care of your health too!”

Yeah. Tough Choices. Not Honeyed Choices. I like that!

“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

 

Kalpana Tatavarti is Founder of Parity Consulting & Training pvt ltd, a boutique firm focused on accelerating women leadership.

www.parityconsulting.in

Read more of her articles at www.womanworklife.in

 

The Myth of the Multi-Tasking Woman

Ask any woman what her key strength is and pat comes the proud reply, “Multitasking!” Ask any man what a woman’s key strength is and pat comes the approving reply, “Multitasking!”

I have seen women swell up with pride at the thought of being excellent multitaskers… and shrivel up with stress!

Let’s get one thing straight – there is no such thing as “Multitasking”.

Of course, there are many things on my mind right now, I’m writing this blog post, mentally planning a lunch date with my sister, wondering what I’ll have for breakfast, and gearing up for the workshop later today.

Am I multitasking? Not really.

What I’m doing is task-switching. As entrepreneur and author Gary Keller puts it, “Juggling is an illusion… in reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession.”

While it is true that women can divide their attention significantly better than men can, is it really beneficial like we think it is? Let’s look at some reasons why multitasking can be more stressful than beneficial.

  • A study in 2010 found that our brains can handle two tasks at the same time pretty efficiently, but add any more tasks to that and you’ll start making mistakes left right and centre, performing about as well as an eight year old. It may feel like we’re doing a lot of work but task-switching can reduce your productivity by 40%! That’s a big number!
  • Research has shown that people who regularly multitask have lower short-term memory or working-memory, which has a direct impact on creativity and decision making. Added to that, people who multitask are always on “high-alert” mode, leading to higher stress-levels.

“Multitasking is great in the kitchen when you are trying to time the chicken to be ready at the same time as the potatoes. But do not assume it is a great way to manage a workday,” says author and consultant Joanne Tombrakos.

In fact, many researchers believe that the reason women are better than men at multitasking is because they’re socially conditioned to do so.

Take the example of a senior woman leader who I met recently. She told me that she learnt to multitask only after getting married and having children, as she learnt to balance her work and the household. But before she knew it, her career had taken a beating.

“Multitasking is a myth we buy into, to meet society’s expectations of a good mother, a good wife, and a good daughter-in-law and our own aspiration for a good career,” she said!

I agree!

If we have to sustain and grow in demanding careers, we need to revisit this myth. I did… and got my husband to revisit it too!

So let’s get down to some serious myth busting, ladies and gents!

Portrait of a Powerful Woman

In my previous blog I talked about the Male Feminist who is necessary to carry the gender agenda forward.  Let me turn the tables and talk about some of the powerful women I have met and what they are and say….

1. She defines herself beyond and as more than her ‘womanhood’ or ‘motherhood’ while at the same time celebrating it

One of the aspects of my life is being a woman/wife/mother… there are so many other aspects to me and I will take the responsibility to express all of them”

“I love the fact that I am a woman! I can have the best of both (all!!) worlds!”

“In the workplace, I leverage my ‘feminine’ to nurture, empathize & develop people; as well as my ‘masculine’ to drive results and win!”

powerfulwoman

2. She is unapologetically ambitious and cheerfully influences key stakeholders in her life to achieve her ambition

“I see ambition as being good at whatever I do, to reach for the stars, to work hard for them”

“Work (besides home) is important because it gives me satisfaction, and also because I am able to contribute to the economic activity of the world. That is ambition and I see no reason why I should compromise on that”

“Anyone who is stuck with me is stuck with my ambition too! They had better put up with it!”

3. She shuns being a victim, but not being vulnerable

“I can create my own opportunities!”

“I don’t need someone to ‘help’ and ‘protect’ me; I need understanding and support”

“I know how to get what I want, and have no problem in seeking the support of my stakeholders to get it!”

“Asking for support and leveraging support in no way makes me less independent”

4. She s courageous (not virulent) about challenging gender stereotypes

“I have understood that you have to educate people around you…everywhere I go if someone says you cant do this/that because you are a woman I show it to them that I can”

“If my Manager thinks I can’t work late or travel because I have a baby, I engage in a conversation with her/him… I say, with your support, I can.”

“Once someone asked me why do you work when your husband earns so much; I advised him to think of work as more than a means of earning livelihood!”

5. She is in touch with her strengths and is her best cheerleader

“I have a strong inner critic; this is what makes me a high performer. But that also makes me tough to live with. Now I make it a point to list out my strengths & competencies once a week. “

“I actually pat myself on my back whenever I do a good job of something.”

“I have realized that the system is not trained to praise me for my achievements at work; I have created my own circle of cheerleaders!”

6. She teaches her daughter to aspire & her son to cook (aside from vice versa)

“I encourage my daughter to find her métier in life, not to find a career which will fit into her personal life.”

“Both my son and daughter understand that there is no dichotomy between career and personal life; it is an integrated whole that is necessary for their well being.”

Portrait of the Male Feminist

Portrait of the Male Feminist

The Gender Inclusion journey is one sided; there are just not enough men involved.  Go to any conference or event on Gender Inclusion and it is alarming to see the abysmal numbers of men.

Most organizations have embraced the agenda, but I see very few men who engage with the agenda thoughtfully.

There is confusion, discomfort, fear, even (lest they say something politically incorrect). As a result, most men hesitate to engage with it – a surefire recipe for failure, for such a deeply transformative process.

And this is true not just of the organizational context but of the larger society too.

If we want to achieve gender balance in the workplaces, if we have to become a gender equal society, we need men also to thoughtfully engage with the conversations and actively participate in the process.

We need the Male Feminist.

male feminist

What does a Male Feminist look like? How does he think? How does he espouse and support the gender inclusion agenda?

Here is a preliminary portrait I have attempted based on some of the wonderful men I have met who are driving this agenda in their teams, organizations, societies and homes!

1. He sees that Gender Inclusion benefits men and women; societies; organizations and teams:

At the team level gender inclusion brings different strengths to the table thus contributing to more holistic solutions; at the organization level it improves performance, Return on Investment and Equity; at societal level it reduces inequalities; and at the individual level, broadens choices for both men and women.

“Gender Inclusion benefits all of us”

2. He doesn’t think women are Damsels in Distress:

He provides challenging assignments to both his male and female team members and keeps away from the usual patronizing remarks women receive such as “Choose something lighter… why struggle; that role is way too demanding…”

“Freedom not Protection”

3. He understands that Equal doesn’t mean Same:

He realizes that just as men and women come with different strengths, they also come with different needs, which need support to enable optimal performance.

“Support not Concessions”

4. He participates equally at home.

The Indian Government at some point considered bringing a bill to pay stay at home mothers; I am not sure that is really the answer. But care giving, running a house is WORK and that work getting assigned to women on the basis of gender doesn’t really make sense! And Work Life balance does NOT mean it is a career woman’s responsibility to juggle both work and personal life!

“There is no man’s work and woman’s work; there is just work”

5. He understands that women don’t go out to work ONLY because they need to bring in the Money:

He realizes that they work because it is deeply satisfying and refrain from comments such as “Why do you have to work? Your husband is earning so much”

“Money is not the only driver”

6. In conferences, forums, offices, promotion discussions he will ask “Where are the women?”:

Because he sees that systemic biases and women’s own internalized gender beliefs need a conscious push through processes, policies, motivation and sometimes, even approval, he is consciously working against unconscious biases held both by men and women.

“Gender Inclusion requires champions to drive it”

7. He is comfortable around ambitious, driven and successful women both in his personal and professional life spaces.

He really feels there is no gender difference here; whether it is men or women any achievement requires drive and ambition.

“Ambition and hard work are admirable & necessary qualities irrespective of gender”

8. He understands that inclusion has to begin at the individual level:

He constantly challenges his own stereotypes/mindsets and adjusts his behaviors & decisions to map to the individuals he is dealing with.

“Inclusion is things I can do and say”

What are other characteristics of the Male Feminist you have encountered?  Or would like to encounter?

Let us all who are already engaged in this transformative process sketch the portrait more accurately by sharing our thoughts/experiences!

Too Tall For A Groom

 

By: Kalpana Tatavarti

In the groups that I run for building career skills in women, one of the sessions, focuses on mental models that limit the retention and growth of female talent in the workplaces. Some of these mental models are individually held by women, that they are able to work through & challenge.

But the killer mental models that stump me and are the most difficult to break, are the ones that are held by individuals, families, communities & societies.

Too Tall For A Groom

One such is what I call the ‘Too Tall For a Groom’ mental model.

A 32 year old female leader in Mumbai “My parents told me when I got a promotion – ‘its already difficult to find you a groom, if you go on getting so many promotions and qualifications, how will we ever be able to find a groom for you?’ ”

A 31 year old friend’s daughter who is an IIT, MBA working with a large Consulting group “I told my mother to find me a guy who is better qualified than me, earning more than me and in a higher position than me”

My uncle about his 5 ft 9 inch daughter “She is growing so tall! Won’t be able to find a groom for her who is taller!”

Apparently, one might wonder what the last statement has to do with the first two; if you dig deeper you will see the consistent message:

Don’t be bigger than your husband; don’t be better than your male colleague; don’t be so tall.

How is this connected to career skills, retention & growth of female talent?

a)Internalized by women themselves, this results in them:

  • Unconsciously (and many times consciously) limiting their potential, not building skills & competencies for senior roles or slow pedaling their careers to fit into this model
  • Taking a secondary position/not claiming their spaces in interpersonal contexts (or not Sitting at The Table, as Sheryl Sandberg would say)
  • Being apologetic about their power (Remember the telecom ad where the female boss is almost begging her report, who happens to be her husband, to complete some work?)
  • Not choosing to be in roles that have ‘power’ (read finance, balance sheet, P&L) but only support roles; it is no surprise that in India a majority of working women are in staff functions!

b)Internalized by men this results in:

  • Discomfort around ‘powerful’ women
  • Assigning ‘household’ activities to women (note taking, event organization etc)
  • Disparaging of commitment to work “you should be looking after your family”

No wonder the latest study by Mckinsey, Women in the Workplace, states that societal mindsets play a big role in retention & growth of female talent in the workplaces!

Each of us, men and women have to challenge our mental models.

Ladies & Gentlemen, let us all Stand Tall together… women don’t have to stoop to conquer!

Behind Every Woman….

 

By: Kalpana Tatavarti

The key challenge to retaining and developing the female talent pipeline for organizations or engaging women in the global economic activity, has been of women dropping off or slow pedaling their careers.

Many times it is attributed to women not being aspirational or ambitious enough.

I believe that is not at all the case.

Women do aspire, but the pull against their aspirations is their gender identity, ‘The Good Woman’ template, which is defined by society and internalized by women themselves.

In the groups that I run, often there are obvious reflections of this template:

Behind Every Woman

 

“I love my work and have been promoted twice in the last four years. Recently I have had a baby who is now a year old. Though my current role is exciting and demanding I feel guilty I’m not available for my child”

“Ï am not sure I want to be earning more than my husband or be in a higher position than him”

“My Manager asked me why are you considering that tough role… when my husband earns so much, just take it easy!”

“One of my colleagues was saying how he dislikes ‘all those ambitious’ women’… what does that mean? Is it a crime?”

“I see successful women leaders as very brusque and too direct, and that doesn’t seem very womanly to me.”

“My mother in law thinks I am very selfish to focus on my career so much.”

“If I take the next role, I will have to compromise my family and their needs.”

“My husband says I can work so long as it doesn’t affect our family life or children”

“My mother doesn’t understand why I travel so much or work so hard. Stay at home and relax.”

Gender is the deepest part of our identity which defines how a woman ‘should be’; it is a template that society defines on what it is to be a ‘good woman’.

  • A Good Woman is not Ambitious
  • A Good Woman will Adjust and Compromise
  • A Good woman is supportive of others (not herself)
  • A Good woman puts her family’s needs before hers
  • A Good woman has to be a perfect mother

Etc etc etc…

Women internalize this template, which impacts their everyday behaviors & decisions: to stay in the workplaces or leave; to engage with their careers or lean back; to claim their spaces (both in their professional or personal lives) or play second/third/fourth fiddle. More often than not, this acts as an Internal Glass Ceiling that holds women back from releasing their potential and achieving their aspirations.

If women have to stay, sustain & grow in their careers or engage in the global economic activity, they have to challenge & redefine this template for themselves first.

Needless to say, women who have achieved beyond their homes, (and many have!) have all reinvented this template.

And they are surrounded by people who have reinvented the template too… husbands, mothers, friends, mothers- in-law(!!), managers, organizations.

“I have developed a mechanism through which I just tune out the messages from the environment that don’t support my career aspirations.”

“I have shared my career aspirations with my husband and he agrees that balancing work and family commitments is both our responsibility, not just mine.”

“I work because it is important to me, and I make it a point to convey to my manager that I am ambitious. But certain stages in my life need her/his support, just like anyone else irrespective of gender. But that in no way reduces my commitment to my work.”

“My mother is supportive of my career choices, and helps out in many ways so that I don’t get worked up. She has worked before.”

For, Behind Every Woman….

….is the woman herself, who changes what it means to be a ‘good woman.’

For, Behind Every Woman….

….are all the significant people and systems in her life who have changed what it means to be a ‘good woman’

How many ways have you changed the template for yourself?

How many ways have you changed the template for the women in your life?

Join us for the ‘Behind Every Woman’ Campaign! Click here to share your stories of changing the template.

The G Word!

 

By: Kalpana Tatavarti

Gender! I am willing to bet this ranks high on the list of controversial words of our century. And with the UN declaring that we need to rope women into the workplaces if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it has become increasingly critical and controversial in recent years.

I live bang in the middle of this dichotomy. My work is focused on creating inclusive workplaces. With gender being the biggest inclusion agenda for most organizations, I have been privy to some of the most challenging mindsets surrounding gender, which both men and women have internalized.

The G word!

The Gender division of roles, man as breadwinner and woman as caregiver, is so deeply entrenched in our mindsets, that a whole range of choices & decisions are impacted… in the choices women make about their ‘personal lives’ and ‘professional’ lives; and also in the choices men make available for themselves in their careers.

I come face to face with how these mindsets are limiting for gender-balanced workplaces. But they are so subtle and so nuanced that surfacing and discussing them is challenging.

I am convinced that it is imperative for women to be part of the economic activity of the world. With increasing research, we know now, that gender balanced workplaces make economic sense. Research by Mckinsey, Catalyst and a host of other bodies has shown that “the companies where women are most strongly represented at board or top-management levels are also the companies that perform best.”

India ranks a low 124 out of 136 nations on women’s economic participation. Interestingly, the number of women enrolling in college has grown many times but has not resulted in an equivalent increase in women in the workforce. One study estimates that India’s GDP can grow by more than a quarter if we can bring gender balance into the workplaces. We have to bring and keep women in the workplaces.

And ‘gender’ which defines what a man should be and what a woman should be, has to be de-constructed if this has to happen. IN the hundreds of groups of women and managers (men and woman) that I have worked with, I have come to realize that the work that we do is really about changing mindsets…and changing society.

It is necessary work.

Throughout this blog we will capture and discuss the experiences of men and women in this inclusion journey.

We need to have these conversations if societies, and organizations as microcosms of societies, are to adapt and achieve balanced economic growth.

As we move forward with this blog, are there any topics within gender inclusion that you would like us to pay particular attention to?

What do you believe are the most pertinent issues when discussing gender balanced work places?

A CEO And A Woman

 

By: Kalpana Tatavarti

I recently attended a CEO forum. As usual there were only a handful of women, which is certainly an improvement from over a decade ago. As I was talking to some of them, the discussion veered around this thing called ‘Woman CEO’.

A CEO is a CEO, woman or man. You run a business, you take tough calls and at the end of the day you have to answer to your shareholders and your board. So why do we have so many awards for women entrepreneurs and women leaders? Why do we have to ‘reduce’ leadership to gender? I’ll admit that I find this annoying sometimes. If anyone had focused the attention on my gender, even five years ago, I would probably have taken them to task.

But I have come to think differently in the last couple of years.

When I work with women at middle levels, one of the key motivators for them, I realize, is seeing women at the top. More and more of them are asking, “Can I do it?” Studies now reveal that Indian women especially report very high levels of aspiration. But a key mindset that seems to be pulling them back is a fear of a tradeoff, ‘this or that’: “If I take the next level, my personal life will get neglected and be affected adversely”.

A CEO and a Woman

But when they see women at the top, effectively straddling the two roles, there is an empowering sense of “I can do it too.”

And in those times when they are about to give up, this can make them persevere. I have heard this from women in my workshops, time and again, especially from women at that vulnerable age group of 26 to 36, when the ‘leaking pipeline’ occurs.

I now see this as a responsibility. Women leaders who choose to mentor other women can be especially effective because they can understand the unique challenges that women face in the workplace, as well as help them understand the unique advantages woman have as leaders.

 

With so few woman leaders, it is clear that gender stereotypes flourish today with leadership still clearly thought of in a ‘male’ paradigm. If we are to break these stereotypes, we need more women at the top embracing and celebrating their gender.

Besides which, a woman’s commitment to work is still perceived as competing with her ‘family responsibilities’. Frequently referred to as the ‘mommy penalty’ studies have shown that women without children are viewed as more dedicated/committed to their careers than women with children.

It is time for women who have achieved greater success outside the home, to claim their gender. But perhaps we need to rephrase a little:

From ‘I am a woman CEO’ to …

‘I am a CEO and I am a woman’; ‘I am a leader and I am a Woman’.

I now say this all the time. Do you?

Women, what are some other ways you feel that women leaders in your organization can give back and help you to advance your career?

Woman… Don’t Become a Man

 

By: Kalpana Tatavarti

At a recent panel discussion on women leadership, one of the panelists remarked: “One message I would like to give to women leaders is, don’t become like a man. I find women who grow to the top layers of the organization become more male than the men themselves”.

I have continued to mull this statement over, as many of the managers and women I coach report receiving similar feedback, sometimes in the form of a sly remark, or sometimes even as direct feedback. Women ask me ‘What does it really mean to be not a man’? What should I be doing more of and less of?’.

I like to think this means that organizations are willing to appreciate that women are different and they should stay different. Unfortunately, when I dig deeper that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Leadership requires one to exhibit behaviors of drive, focus, directness and many more such ‘masculine’ behaviors, along side ‘feminine’ behaviors of collaboration, empathy, and sensitivity. Unfortunately ‘masculine’ is associated more with men and ‘feminine’ more with women. As long as women express ‘feminine’ behaviors all is fine. At senior layers one needs to exhibit  the ‘masculine’ behaviors too.

Woman Don't Become A Man

 

And then begins the challenge.

So many women have expressed to me the fine line they feel they need to walk between being a woman and being a ‘leader’ saying ‘I have to wear a mask’, ‘People are not able to handle my directness’, or ‘Just because I am a woman, I am expected to be soft and caring’.  Very often, this progresses to the women being tagged as ‘too strong’, ‘very abrasive’, ‘too aggressive’ or even sometimes derogatory remarks.

A young woman once told me how she heard some of her team members discuss a very senior woman leader in their organization. ‘If moving to senior roles means I will also have these remarks made about me, I had rather not aspire for leadership roles’.

How this impacts the gender balance agenda is the deeper question.

Catalyst captures this in their study ‘Double Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if you do, doomed if you Don’t’.

The report found that women leaders are either perceived as competent or liked, but rarely both. This impacts the leadership pipeline for women. It discourages women from being ambitions and encourages them to settle for mid-level positions, resulting in a dry pipeline in terms of women’s leadership.

Very subtly a choice is made.

So what is the solution then?

At an individual level, of course, it is important for any leader (male or female) to take cognizance of the environment and adapt to fit in. Coaching helps to a certain extent, for one to reconcile the dilemma and traverse this journey.

At an organizational level, it helps to set a culture of respect for all kinds of differences. I have known managers who upon hearing similar remarks bring it up in team meetings and convey a clear message that such remarks are unacceptable.

It is also the responsibility of each one of us to become comfortable with ‘strong’ women. I remember what one of my colleagues told me a few years ago: “Whenever I see a strong and powerful woman I think ‘Yay! Good for you!’ I actively scout for women like that for my team. I mentor them when I see that directness stepping on people’s toes, like I would anyone. But I am especially encouraging and motivating of strong women…we simply need more of them!”

Do you feel you are in a double bind, forced to choose between being likable and being authoritative? What are some active steps you can take to overcome this?

What are some ways you can help change this double standard in your workplace? How do you plan to be more aware of it?