thoughts on the glass ceiling

There are many (myself included) who have lamented that when a woman in charge shows her authority, she's called a bitch. But when a man in charge shows his authority, no one calls him anything. While I think examples of this still exist, the times are a-changing. Sadly, however, people's nature isn't changing. Women still try to avoid conflict and make people feel good while at the same time issuing critique. While in large part I do believe that when appropriate, both positive and negative feedback can be given at the same time, sometimes it's ok to just say it like it is - even when it is negative. If someone performs less than satisfactorily, then they need to be called to task. While no one likes hearing that they've done something wrong at the time, I think ultimately people want to please and want to make sure they are meeting expectations.

Which brings me to my major beef with many bosses these days: not expressing expectations. And more often than not, in my experience and in the experiences of those close to me, it is women bosses who have difficulty laying ground rules and expectations up front, then they avoid correcting people when said undisclosed expectations are not met, until one day they blow up and berate or fire the employee over the fact that the employee didn't perform to the unknown expectations. RIDICULOUS!!!! It's great if we can make friends at work. How fortunate to be friendly with your boss. But let's get the relationship straight - no matter how friendly one is or one wants to be in the boss/employee relationship, it is just that. A professional relationship where it is totally appropriate to establish a clear line of communication, expectation and hierarchy.

This especially seems to be true of middle-aged women bosses who I think are still trying to prove something - trying to break that glass ceiling. For that, I am eternally grateful. As a young, professional woman, I commend those who have paved the way. But there is still this desire to not offend and to NOT be deemed a bitch. However, it's the very process of avoiding conflict which ultimately leads to large conflict, that makes one a bitch. It's passive aggressive. It's disrespectful. It's unprofessional.

On the otherhand - the circumstances with which I agree with my opening statement are the times when women bosses lay out clear sets of expectations and then hold their employees accountable, and subsequently are called a bitch. When, perhaps, a man wouldn't be called such a name. To that I counter, perhaps that man would be called a douche, instead. But why the name calling at all? If you are not performing according to expectations and you're called to task, then you need to suck it up. Now, said boss (man or woman) shouldn't be mean when doling out criticism, but they shouldn't be forced to sugar coat it, either. Though, to be a truly effective boss, one must also take the time to laud your employees for a job well done. That's where you find the balance. And in this balance, you gain respect. Tell me what boss who fits the former description has the respect of their employees. I know of none.

As a professional woman with leadership aspirations, I firmly intend to follow the latter model, and would hope that it would garner the respect of my employees. In this way, I will set the example to the next generation of professional women to follow. Then maybe we can truly break the glass ceiling without fear of retribution.


  1. Very well said! You are already well on your way to striking that balance. I really admire your ability to say it like it is, when that is necessary, while remaining professional. I have no doubt that you are on your way to building upon the success you've already achieved. Is it unprofessional to say that I want to hug you after reading this piece?? :)

  2. Hehehe. I'll take a hug :) Now, if you were my boss and you wanted to give me a hug and tell me I was a good person after firing me - that might cross a line.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts