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Thread: Working for/and with an abrasive female leader who may harbor sexist attitudes

  1. #21
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    I have struggled leading other people because I've always thought that if I stated clearly what I wanted, and the broad idea behind it, and my chosen method, then I could just trust people to do it and speak up when something goes wrong. I'd say something like "I want to make this specific end result happen, because the ultimate goal is ___, and to get there I think we should do XYZ." And if needed, I tell people exactly what their expected end goal is, but not the specific steps unless they ask. But I have struggled because people get to problems, they don't speak up about it, or they change their minds part-way through and decided to do something else, and I thought I was being clear about what I wanted but I guess I wasn't.

    I don't know. I really struggle to be authoritarian. But I observe her being very authoritarian and firm - and I've seen times when that didn't work, either.

    I've come to the (possible) conclusion that you can't please everyone, so maybe the best method is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your style and values about how to get things done. If you're into building relationships, then surround yourself with those kinds of people, and likewise if you're task-oriented. Conflicts will eventually sort themselves out as styles incompatible to their tasks will fail, and people who don't like their directors will either leave to work for people like them, or that director will get voted out and replaced my someone the masses want.

    Example, a handful of people slowly quit and relocated after my current director came into position - specifically because they didn't like her style. So she's slowly changing the culture here to match her style, so there's no problems. I guess? Sure, she could lose good people, but their skills would be hindered if clashing communication styles gets in the way of us all doing our best.

  2. #22
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    I don't understand why your focus is on being "authoritarian" - sometimes that is needed -sometimes I take that approach with my son meaning I just tell him matter of factly what we're going to do, what's going to happen next ,no room for negotiation but leading doesn't require "authoritarian". Is it possible you're elevating style over substance? Meaning why think you're wedded to a particular style as opposed to approaching situations individually with the overarching goal being the employer's bottom line and the most productive, efficient way to get there (which includes people finding it positive to work with you because it's inefficient if people keep quitting or refusing to do what is asked of them).

    I think firm and direct is great and can be done in a very polite, professional way. I don't think it's about finding "like minded individuals" but rather about being flexible and figuring out what gets you to the end goal with the particular person. With some people I can show more of myself, my sense of humor, be more casual/lighthearted and with others I simply can't. Either because they don't get my sense of humor so it might even be off putting or because they are all business and don't even want to discuss the weather,etc.
    Depending on the end goal, the type of people you are working with to get it done (meaning is it professional staff, administrative staff, do they work from home or on site, etc) and how it's been done in the past I personally would dispense with the "I think we should do xy" - show confidence in your approach and after telling the person the end goal and the intermediate steps (and when they need to check in with you -if it's at the end, fine or in the middle, or whatever) -then at the end of your instructions invite them to ask questions should they have any which covers the concern that they might not understand. And if possible set up specific times/time periods you want the person to check in with you. That way no need to micromanage or feel like you are.

    I think your way is fine if you don't care about being employed at a particular place for any extended period of time because it's a bit needle in a haystack and kind of one size fits all. Just my two cents and I agree leading is hard!!

  3. #23
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    In an ideal world all bosses /managers would be these perfect leaders you are reading about. However many are simply draconian egotistical micromanagers. You have to deal with what is, not what "should" be.

    All you are doing is trashing her in your mind and making yourself crazy, unhappy and angry. You are silently seething and ruining your health, not hers. She's moving forward making more than you and enjoying her job. You're miserable.. She's not going to change no matter how many articles you read on what good leadership looks like.

    You have to read articles on how to deal with Difficult people, not ideal people, that's a no brainer. Stop all the wishful thinking and get your resume tuned up if the culture she's creating sucks for you.
    Originally Posted by Rihannon
    a handful of people slowly quit and relocated after my current director came into position - specifically because they didn't like her style.

  4. #24
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    In an ideal world all bosses /managers would be these perfect leaders you are reading about. However many are simply draconian egotistical micromanagers. You have to deal with what is, not what "should" be.

    All you are doing is trashing her in your mind and making yourself crazy, unhappy and angry. You are silently seething and ruining your health, not hers. She's moving forward making more than you and enjoying her job. You're miserable.. She's not going to change no matter how many articles you read on what good leadership looks like.

    You have to read articles on how to deal with Difficult people, not ideal people, that's a no brainer. Stop all the wishful thinking and get your resume tuned up if the culture she's creating sucks for you.
    I don't agree that "many" are draconian or egotistical. I do think that bosses-staff often have challenges in interactions especially in fast-paced stressful environments and especially if it's a "work for" and not "work with" mindset. I'm glad right now I'm in mostly a non-leadership role at work especially since in many instances I have to be my son's boss. I have three bosses right now. None of them is draconian or egotistical. Not even close. And I can see where others might find them a bit intimidating because they are not touchy feely at all and they are laser focused on getting the work done right and on time -not on "relationship building" - and that works great for me.

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  6. #25
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    could it be that you expect other women in the workplace to be like your girlfriend and she is all business and only business and you could accept that from a man, but not a woman? She doesn't gossip about others at work, she doesn't bring homemade cookies in for everyone and she doesn't idly chat.

  7. #26
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    In an ideal world all bosses /managers would be these perfect leaders you are reading about. However many are simply draconian egotistical micromanagers. You have to deal with what is, not what "should" be.

    All you are doing is trashing her in your mind and making yourself crazy, unhappy and angry. You are silently seething and ruining your health, not hers. She's moving forward making more than you and enjoying her job. You're miserable.. She's not going to change no matter how many articles you read on what good leadership looks like.

    You have to read articles on how to deal with Difficult people, not ideal people, that's a no brainer. Stop all the wishful thinking and get your resume tuned up if the culture she's creating sucks for you.
    You add so much of your own fiction to my narrative, it's insane. I'm seething, miserable, ruining my health? Where do you get this? You tend to interpret things in a much more dramatic way than they really are. I have said this before, you are very provocative and dramatic, and often making wild assumptions. I don't know if you do it to get a reaction or to overshoot in order to get the person to find the truth. Whatever it is, I don't get it. I can't take your advice seriously.

  8. #27
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    Originally Posted by abitbroken
    could it be that you expect other women in the workplace to be like your girlfriend and she is all business and only business and you could accept that from a man, but not a woman? She doesn't gossip about others at work, she doesn't bring homemade cookies in for everyone and she doesn't idly chat.
    I don't think so. I despise gossip and I find all that personalization of work to be excessive and to add unnecessary complications. For example, I personally would do away with in-office recognition of birthdays or baby showers (you know, having a birthday party or baby shower for someone at work). But I get that that helps a lot of people connect to work. No, with her I was debating the effectiveness of her communication style as being an effective leader style when it tends to push other ideas down.

    I guess since this is an advice forum, people will tend to think I'm here asking for a solution or answer to a problem - which makes sense. So people have interpreted me as being this hating, miserable, low-wage, critic of a powerful, successful woman.

  9. #28
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by abitbroken
    could it be that you expect other women in the workplace to be like your girlfriend and she is all business and only business and you could accept that from a man, but not a woman? She doesn't gossip about others at work, she doesn't bring homemade cookies in for everyone and she doesn't idly chat.
    This got me thinking. Sometimes it's the type of job and the personalities it tends to attract. For example, before I became and architect, I worked for six years in a regular ol' office, doing wholesale account management at a Fortune 100 company. One day, I learned that I was too abrasive. "It's not what you say, it's your tone," said my manager (a woman) about my emails.

    My 'tone' never constituted a major infraction, but over the years it was often the one negative in my predominantly positive yearly reviews and so I was aware of this tendency of mine to be curt.

    When I went to graduate school, I sort of found my people: Very direct and goal-oriented. Not people-oriented (although they were/are great, fun friends).

    Then, when I started working.... WELL. I often remember my old manager and her bit about my 'tone' and I laugh to myself. There's nothing wrong with my tone, I do just fine where I am. I was just an ugly duckling in the typical office environment.

    If someone from my previous career took a job in either of the last two architecture/engineering offices that I worked in, they'd quit within a week. It's just a brutal, demanding environment where social niceties are generally viewed as inconvenient and the humor is highly inappropriate. People like me--men and women--get along very well there.

    So, your boss may be a bit of an ugly duckling, like I was. Fact is, they didn't hire her to make the office workers happy. They hired her to get a job done. Yes, some people may quit because they hate her. That's a cost that upper management my have factored in. As the saying goes, you have to crack some eggs to make an omelette.

    Originally Posted by Rihannon
    It seems that competency should include the concept of being a moderate person - not too extreme in either direction: not too soft, not too rigid. If a leader has all the most practical and best ideas, but turns people off and can't get anyone on board to follow her, due to her delivery, then the competency of this leader is questionable.
    Originally Posted by Rihannon
    Part of it has to be getting other people - lots of different kinds of people - to willingly work toward a common goal, and part of that requires communicating that goal in a way that different people will understand its value. If you just tell people what to do, but can't effectively communicate why they should do it that way, there may be challenges amongst the ranks.
    I agree with you. Not everyone is so well-rounded, unfortunately. Sometimes, the best applicant doesn't apply to the job. Sometimes the senior leadership picks the wrong person or has clouded judgment. But maybe this is something you can work towards for yourself, when you become a leader.

  10. #29
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    Jibralta, tried to rep you and couldn't. I love your post and you must have felt so validated when you found your people and your curtness (yeah, right) was appreciated!
    I think this is great and insightful input.

  11. #30
    Platinum Member itsallgrand's Avatar
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    That's so true Jibs. That's the idea I was going for, but couldn't quite articulate.

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