SMASH STEREO­TYPES ABOUT GIRLBOSSES

Women bosses of­ten get an un­fairly bad rap, but we don’t have to live with it. Two of them, who lead male-dom­i­nated teams, tell you how.

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

How to curb sex­ist be­hav­iour at your work­place.

Myth 1 THEY’RE INDECISIVE Smash it:

As a leader, you’re ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the de­ci­sions made, says Tribal World­wide Sin­ga­pore’s manag­ing part­ner and head of op­er­a­tions, Les­lie Goh. Don’t wa­ver, as it sends the wrong mes­sage to your team. “When there is con­sis­tency, the team can spend more time pol­ish­ing up the work or com­ing up with ini­tia­tives and be­ing more pro­duc­tive,” says Les­lie.

Also, once you’ve made a de­ci­sion, be trans­par­ent about how you got there. “I keep all my team mem­bers en­gaged right from the plan­ning stages,” says Gauri Ba­jaj, di­rec­tor of cy­ber­se­cu­rity (APAC) at Tata Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “This way, they un­der­stand their con­tri­bu­tion to the com­pany’s strat­egy.” The point is – don’t leave room for your team to guess at what you’re think­ing.

Myth 2

THEY’RE BET­TER FOL­LOW­ERS, NOT LEAD­ERS – UN­LIKE MEN Smash it:

As a boss, you have the power to build an em­pow­er­ing en­vi­ron­ment for your team. So use it. Cre­ate a gen­der-neu­tral work cul­ture and shut down stereo­types im­me­di­ately, says Les­lie. When a male col­league com­mented that the com­pany should hire more women project man­agers – as the role re­quires an eye for de­tail – Les­lie wasn’t hav­ing any of it. “I shared with him suc­cess sto­ries of male project man­agers on my team, and high­lighted their strengths and weak­nesses,” she says, adding that she doesn’t al­low men in her team to im­ply that they’re bet­ter at tech jobs than the women.

Myth 3 THEY’RE TEM­PER­A­MEN­TAL Smash it:

“B*tchy”, “un­sym­pa­thetic”, “too emo­tional”… what­ever. Some­times, girlbosses just can’t win. But no mat­ter what judg­ment peo­ple choose to pass, Les­lie be­lieves that bosses have to be con­sis­tent in show­ing care for their team’s well­be­ing. If she no­tices that some­one is over­worked and has clocked long hours, she proac­tively sug­gests they take time off to rest.

Les­lie also makes the ef­fort to ask about her team’s per­sonal lives when she runs into them in the pantry, or dur­ing lunch – it’s her way of un­der­stand­ing their ca­reer and per­sonal goals. “This way, they’re more likely to be open to com­ing to you for help when they need to,” Les­lie adds.

Myth 4 MOTHERHOOD MAKES THEM LESS COM­MIT­TED TO WORK Smash it:

Af­ter re­turn­ing from ma­ter­nity leave, Les­lie had to launch a ma­jor project within a short time frame. That meant long hours in the lead-up to the launch. Tough for a new mum, but she wanted to show her team that their leader would be in the trenches with them. To get by, Les­lie roped her hus­band and par­ents in to look af­ter the baby.

Now, she gets home in time to read her two kids a story be­fore bed. Once that’s sorted, she logs on to her work e-mail and picks up where she left off.

Myth 5

THEY LOVE TO MI­CRO­MAN­AGE Smash it:

It’s hard to work ef­fec­tively if a boss is con­stantly breath­ing down your neck. Gauri knows it, so she finds ways to keep her team in­vested. “I pre­fer to give a fair amount of author­ity to the team by let­ting them par­tic­i­pate in de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­cesses.”

Lose the dic­ta­tor-like at­ti­tude and have some trust, agrees Les­lie. If team mem­bers dis­agree, she doesn’t shut them down. Rather, she takes it out­side and makes time to help them un­der­stand her point of view.

Oh, please – I’ve had my fair share of indecisive and mi­cro­manag­ing male bosses. Trust me, it’s not a gen­der thing.

Les­lie Goh, manag­ing part­ner and head of op­er­a­tions, Tribal World­wide Sin­ga­pore

Gauri Ba­jaj, di­rec­tor of cy­ber­se­cu­rity (APAC), Tata Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

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