How to be a badass in the boardroom (and have people still like you)

Ladies, when life gives you lemons… pucker up and smash it!

Look, I’m kinda sad we even need to have this conversation, but we do. We’re going to talk about how to make it – as a woman – in the corporate world. We live in a world of difficult rhetoric for ambitious women. While our male colleagues are seen in glowing terms as go-getters, we ladies are tagged as bitches. If we have children, and still want a career, we are labelled as unfit mothers. We have to work smarter and harder to even straddle the pay gap – women in the workplace effectively spend six weeks a year working for free as they trail behind male counterparts.

Being a boss b*tch isn’t always a bad thing. Own that sh*t and make it work for you.

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. And she did it backwards and in heels. Women can, and do, run the business world from the top to the bottom, but it doesn’t make you popular (whether you’re a man or a woman for that matter.)

Here’s how to boss it like a pro (and still get – at least some people – to like you.)

1. What are you trying to achieve?

It’s fantastic if you know, on day one of your career, exactly the job you’re heading for. But that’s not often the case. Think instead about what your purpose is. Maybe you just want the corner office and a string of people to bring you Subway. Or you want a large team of people you can develop to serve/worship/whatever you. Or you want to shepherd the kind of business growth that would make Starbucks quiver. Choose the goal, not the job. That allows a level of flexibility in what you do and how you do it that will let you keep an eye on the big picture – not just who’s bringing you lunch.

2. Who can help you? And who can you help?

I’m sorry sister but you can be the most bad-ass bitch to ever grace a boardroom and you still won’t have made it on your own. You need to network and find sponsors who understand your goals and what you’re trying to achieve. Listen to these people on the way up and keep it real . And in the same way you need to speak up for others. One of my favourite stories out of the Obama White House was that his female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification.” 

When a woman made a great point, other women would repeat it, making sure the originator got the credit for it. This forced the discussion to recognise their contribution. This, my wonderful women IS THE FUTURE.

Don’t bitch, buddy up!

Don’t climb over each other, support each other up. In a world where we are on the back foot, women need other women. Your sister is not the enemy, the system is.

3. Make yourself the go-to person

OK, smash-the-patriarchy rant over (for now.) You also need to look to your personal practices. Learn from your mistakes, reflect on them and be open and honest about what happened. This lets you shape the view that you’re the kind of person who solves problems, not creates them. (Sad but true) old-boys networks are still influential in many business sectors. Get yourself on the call-list when shizz goes down and you’ve won half the battle. Even if your boss is a woman. Success breeds success. Shape your own story.

4. Don’t forget to be you

I talked a while ago about personal branding and I want to return to it here. Women are great at recognising the achievements of others but don’t give their own light away. Remember what you do amazingly – and then talk about it. If you bossed it, take the credit. And be positive about those around you. Stop apologising and start saying thank you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, alpaca or pun-loving alien, if you do what you do well, shout about it, take the falls on the chin and come back harder. International Women’s Day – or any day – is yours for the taking.


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