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Female boss: Are we good managers?

Apr 27, 2017
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Female Boss

It is a refreshing change to see female bosses heading workplaces. Gone are the days, when in workplaces, you would only see men and very few women or no women at all. Now, we see women crunching numbers in banks, investments, and business and so on. They are strategists who run the company on their able shoulders. But, have we warmed up to them? Or are we still stereotyping the female boss. Are we good taskmasters? And, finally, are they good bosses?

It is heart-warming to see number of female bosses rising, and how they are helming their own businesses. The number in Fortune 500 companies may not be as encouraging, but nevertheless, the rise is visible. “Earlier, some few year back, one would see very few women working in big companies, leave alone heading divisions. But now, the workplace sees an almost equal number of women, and many are leads. The scenario is changing and how,” says Sayantan Das, Consultant, Altran. He adds, “I work under a female boss, who has more experience than me. She brings something different to the table. And that difference, sets her apart from my male bosses that I have worked under.” Female bosses are known to be better with communication than their male counterparts. They would always like to talk you through any development. As pointed out by the American Psychological Association in a story in Your Tango, “Not all workplaces are alike: Women’s participatory style may backfire in traditional male settings such as the military or organized sports. Conversely, the command-and-control style more typical of men may backfire in a social-service agency or retail outlet.” Indranil Thakurata, Manager in Crisil says, “Women and men are different, and their gaze is different. And therefore, they are different as bosses. It is great, if they play to their strength.” It is a problem when women don’t want to use what is a gift to them. When they literally want to wear the pants, behave like men, that’s when the problem arises. To maintain harmony, they need to be themselves. It is common knowledge that men want to resist women bosses. Don’t take them seriously. Want to play down their achievement. We still aren’t comfortable taking commands from a woman. That’s our mind block, that we need to work on,” says Sayantan.

A new research led by Ekaterina Netchaeva, Ph.D., at Bocconi University in Italy, that Mash able carried reveals men acting aggressively towards hypothetical female bosses, and that’s likely because they feel challenged by the women’s authority. “I have always seen that men are not comfortable with women bosses,or they expect her to be very sensitive. They want to take liberties with them, and if handled with an iron fist, they are mean. It is hard for them to take bosses without biases that come with the gender,” says Alaknanda Banerjee, a Media Professional.
Former Google and Apple executive Kim Scott’s new professional advice book talks about a lot of things, amongst a cardinal truth, that some people should never be managers. “I believe that it’s more about their person, and the quality that the person possess. Some qualities, regardless of the gender, make for a good manager. I had a lovely female boss, who knew how to motivate me and at the same time, could understand my problems and be sensitive to them, even if they were personal.” She adds, “It is generally believed that a female boss is nasty with female colleagues, but it isn’t true. It really depends upon the person. My boss was a good listener and a guide.” Even Though, Sandhya Kumar agrees with Alaknanda and believes it to be an individual quality, she nevertheless thinks that she had only met with imbalanced female bosses. “I have only encountered with either the go-getter female boss, who has no regard for anyone’s opinion or predicaments or the one who is happy to pass on her work on her juniors, dishing out one excuse or the other for not being there. She is incapable of standing for her team, which is terrible.

The ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ is an often talked about syndrome, where the female manager mistrusts her subordinates and doesn’t really empower them, rather disarms them. “When we think of a workplace full of women, we think of sisterhood. But in reality, they are far from it. There is no too much mistrust, and competition. The female boss can give her subordinate a tough time, if she sees you as a threat. And that is scary. To act like a boss and not be that naturally,” Sandhya adds. In agreement, Meenakshi Kumar, an Architect who runs her own firm says, “Yes, women are more critical of their ilk. They will judge you more. I have friends who are HR managers in IT companies, who are against the extension of maternity leaves. They can be more ruthless if need be, and some of them try too hard to climb the ladder of success. I am now working in my own firm, which gives me the scope to treat my subordinates with more care. Nurture them, and not be the bad example that I have encountered.” Adding, “But there is another side to it. A male boss would form a male club, and that can often be disturbing for various reasons. Male superiors can be harsh, and give you terrible advice; like, be a full time mom, should take a break. They can really take a dig at you, without batting an eyelid. The comments can discourage you for life. A female boss, can never be sexist, in an already tilted equation.”

It is ironic that women are fighting this battle, to stand equal with their male counterparts, but at the same time, they want to ‘man up’ to be the boss. “A lot of friends, who have worked in male and female dominated workplaces, believe that you have to ‘man up’ to be the boss. You can’t be talking about beauty regimens and all things frivolous. You have to be more decisive, take on more risk, be more assertive, act more mature to be the boss. And that’s not how I feel. I believe that, to be a manager, you have to be serious about the work that you do-, not stop being who you are. It is not necessary to literally wear the pants. You can be bold, beautiful in a sari, and manage your team with elan,” says Mandira Bhowmik, A Government School Teacher in Delhi.

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