The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss

The full name of this book is The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch). The title bothers me - it seems a marketing ploy to catch people's attention while perpetuating a stereotype which is more suitable to the 1980s than the current decade. There are thousands of great female bosses out there. Over half of all graduate students are female. I've worked for many companies and never have had a problem because I'm female - or had a problem with females in management.

That being said, I know many women have trouble in a position of power - and I know that some people still have an issue with women being *in* power. Heck, there are still people around who look down on people for having dark skin. So if this book helps people in that situation, it's doing a good thing.

One indicator of the mindset of the authors is that the book is about 200 pages long - but they explain that they originally had a chapter on "why being a boss sucks" and that one chapter ALONE was over 200 pages and had to be drastically trimmed. What an awful attitude to have!! That's like having a book for moms with a gigantic chapter on "why being a mom sucks". As we all know, the things you focus on end up being the things that take over your life. If you focus on all the awful things about being a boss, that is not a healthy way of living. Heck, why not choose a different career path then, one that does not involve management, if you truly hate being a boss so much? Some people simply are more happy not having control over others. That is fine.

I'm not saying that you should ignore the challenges of being a boss. Certainly, there are challenges! But they are simply skills you need to learn to master, not "being a boss sucks" situations.

What are some of the challenges? The book tells you that as a woman you are likely to "freak out" and must not do that. You must take responsibility for your team, on caring well for them. You have to give credit to them, not steal it from them. You have to stay "consistent, loyal and unbiased". You have to be firm but fair. Learn to delegate.

The book tells you these things via little stories, and by proving lists. For example, as a boss you should post this above your desk: make a to-do list, set goals, stick to deadlines, keep your word, get it in writing, be proactive, think of the entire company, contribute to your team, focus on the big picture, be your own cheerleader, sell yourself stick up for yourself, don't be personal, network, and find a mentor. The book gives you little mantras. Give constructive feedback, not personal criticism. Leave everyone's self esteem intact.

However, the book is not as great at providing actual solutions. It sends you a lot of messages, but does not provide a lot of concrete help. It says many times to be calm, cool and collected at all times - but doesn't give any advice for women who are emotional. It tells you not to be friends with your subordinates, not to drink with co-workers, and (I kid you not) to have all of your minions snap to attention when you enter a meeting room. It apparently is a bad sign if they keep talking when you enter, rather than all looking immediately to you and waiting with hushed breath for your next precious word.

I definitely agree that many of the suggestions here are good ones, if common sense. Praise in public, criticize in private. Don't focus on blame, focus on improving and fixing things. If you apologize, apologize specifically "I am very sorry for xxxxxx" rather than generically.

And I suppose if for some women the "chatty girl" approach of the book gets across a message that they did not understand or absorb otherwise, that is a good thing. We all learn in different ways, and we all have different styles.

Still, it bothers me that women would focus on the mindset of "I have to be careful not to be a bitch" - or that women would focus on the "being a boss sucks" idea. Again, if you have something stuck in your mind, it affects how you act and how others act towards you. It is far more productive to focus on "being a mentor to others is a fantastic opportunity" - and then find ways to make that happen and to handle any challenges that stand in your way. I would much rather see more books come out with that focus.

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