Finally getting a few good posts in. Though it hasn’t been too crazy around here, we are trying to get into the weeds of work in a completely different environment and it is always a little frustrating. I am still trying to find time to read inspiring books, just like Knowing Your Own Value by Mika Brezezinski.

I have written a post or two about likability vs. success with women before. After my last post, I felt revisiting this topic was completely necessary. Mika puts its simply: “The double bind is this: in order to be a competent leader you need to be assertive- but if you’re a woman, you’re judged harshly for displaying the traits that make you an effective leader.” One of my personality traits is to be very open and sociable. I try hard to make strong connections with my coworkers because it builds a better work environment and also extends your social network as a leader. Unfortunately, being “nice and sociable” can also bite a woman in the ass, as with my last post. Specifically in the Army, it seems that if you are spending time with a person of the opposite gender, regardless of the reality of the situation, you are scrutinized. I enjoy eating lunch with people other than the females that work around me, and I refuse to give into the norm of eating in my “female circle” on a daily basis, especially since majority of my peers and my executive officer network is composed of men….oh wait, they are actually all guys.

Now, here comes the bind, if I speak my mind and say that this “perception” hurts the culture of our unit, I am immediately ostracized. Though I am sure most of us have been in a situation quite like I was in where the perception is not reality with a male coworker, I doubt that those of us that are still in leadership positions have actually said something about it. Joy Behar, one of the personalities on the television show The View says “I’m a big mouth, but i’m not demanding and I don’t say I have to get special privileges or anything like that…you want people to feel that you’re a team player.” But being a team player doesn’t necessarily make you a great leader…everyone knows and talks bad about the “bitch” in your company or unit…and don’t say you don’t have one, or maybe she really isn’t a bitch and you have just marginalized her that way, she may not be a team player, but she gets what she wants. Behar goes on to say that these “bitches” ” don’t really give a f**k that you think they’re a bitch. You and I, we don’t like to be thought of as bitches…if you don’t care that people think you’re a bitch, you can run the networks and the country.” These same women don’t accept the criticism, and say something about it, whether or not they would be ridiculed. When perceptions are mistaken for reality it can destroy a business culture, or at least harbor a lot of resentment. Though I too hate being thought of as a bitch, sometimes it’s necessary to be assertive and bring pertinent issues to light.

But how do you bring light to an issue without being too hard? Because of course, then you seem “over emotional.” I have also been characterized as “emotional” myself. Sheila Bair the chair of the FDIC and voted by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in the world, says “emotionalism doesn’t work…don’t ever get emotional. Sometimes that’s hard. You get so frustrated and you care deeply…I’m really talking more about anger; for me it was more anger. When you’re angry it hurts your ability to think straight. If you start to get angry, the adrenaline starts pumping in you.” When addressing an issue you need to think through your argument first, calm yourself down and then tackle the beast. This is one shortcoming I have tried to internalize, instead of jumping the gun on every issue that the Company has, I try to take a step back, evaluate, tone down my anger and then address it.

Girls in green…don’t be afraid to bring an issue to the table…you may turn into the bitch, but if you control your argument, you will be heard…

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