am not a journalist. I am a con-
sultant who specializes in orga-
nizational assessment and indi-
vidual and team development. My
intent in this writing is to share a few
observations about organizations and
women in leadership positions.
Stop looking over your shoulder.
Many leaders spend too much time worrying about their
boss. Am I doing OK? Am I doing a good enough job? Start
with an assumption: If you are not hearing anything, you are
probably in good standing with your boss. Bosses, especially
male bosses, typically don’t provide enough feedback and
coaching for their subordinates to know how they are doing.
If you don’t know, ask.
But beyond that, get to work and put your attention where it
belongs: on the people you rely on to get work done every
day. I have seen some leaders so paralyzed by self-doubt that
they end up undermining their own success by failing to take
risks or make decisions. Your people need you and your
attention. Any time spent worrying about the boss is energy
that can better be devoted to your staff. Become the boss you
wish your boss could be.
Don’t be afraid to disagree.
Women need to be more willing to disagree at work, espe-
cially with their boss. Most male bosses I know respect the
person who is willing to come into their office, close the
door and talk straight with them. In fact, many of the bosses
I work with are confused about why this doesn’t happen
more often. After all, being opinionated and direct is how
they have managed to be successful. They want people
around them who are willing to operate in the same way.
Of course, you have to be smart about how you do this.
Prepare your argument in advance, especially if this is some-
thing you are feeling strong emotions about. A quick
rehearsal with a colleague can help you put your thoughts
together so that you can express your opinions persuasively
and clearly. The last thing you want to do is self-inflicted
career damage by acting thoughtlessly in the heat of the
moment. (Whenever I act in the heat of emotion, I almost