Females in Business: Too Nice to Be Successful or Too Successful to Be Nice?


Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, talks frequently about the lack of females in company management, and suggests that they could be making better headway in the business arena if they change some crucial habits and make a collective effort to get in the game. I agree, however think it might go even much deeper than that.

The stats are shocking and still quite worthless when it comes to the variety of women in power and leadership roles, in executive and business positions, salary inconsistencies and the like. It’s easy to blame the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘old boys club’ however when it comes right down to it, it’s possible that we women might just be withstanding our own corporate success.

Females should be shattering that ceiling and crashing those clubs. In fact, a 2010 financial committee report found that companies with women promoted to senior positions consistently exceed their competitors. It goes on to highlight the tested success in the corporate arena of collaboration, team-building and mentoring, abilities that females naturally tend to use and excel at. We should be leading the C-suite charge and taking the business world by storm. Rather, we seem to be regularly undermining our own efforts and preventing our own prospective success at every juncture.

Get in the Game

Sandberg recommends that females have the tendency to take themselves from the video game when it concerns business advancement and promo. She notes some troubling patterns and trends then raises some excellent questions: Why do not females pursue goals as actively as their male equivalents? Why do we have the tendency to defer to spouses when it pertains to domestic scenarios? Why do females typically capitulate or withdraw in business settings? Are we being ‘too nice’?

There are probably as many factors for it as there are females. After all, success is actually an extremely individual and subjective term. Succeeding methods various things to different individuals. Nevertheless, one common denominator appears to be joy in some form, and despite the quantity of money you make or titles you earn or values you maintain, it’s quite hard to be pleased if you believe that no one likes you!

Whether they decide to work inside or outside the home, ladies frequently seem to obtain the short end of the judgment stick, and unfortunately, we women are typically the worst transgressors when it pertains to bashing our own. Have you ever discussed or slammed the ‘soccer mothers’ and ‘helicopter mothers’ for not being ambitious enough, or the ‘working mommies’ for not being included enough, or complained that the ‘bitchy manager’ has to get … a life? Females need to support each other irrespective of concerns and choices instead of perpetuating unfavorable and counterproductive stereotypes.

In business, successful males are generally seen as positive and assertive, whereas effective females are more often than not considered aggressive and cold-hearted. The stereotype of the ‘Bitchy Boss’ stubbornly persists and can be found all around us – it remains in movies, magazines, pictures, plot, even in our discussions. So why in the world would any woman or lady ever want to desire be ‘successful’ in business if it indicates being viewed as cold and hard, shunned and frowned at by everybody around her?

Stay in the Video game

Historically, success in business world has actually likewise represented sacrifice, frequently at the cost of household and relationships. As a woman, it is frequently considered selfish to actively pursue job-related goals, however paradoxically, males are seen as ‘go-getters’ and excellent providers. Gasp, what sort of woman/mother would ever put her work or self ahead of the needs of her household?! She might be effective but at exactly what cost?

Guilt can a quite strong incentive, especially when it plays on our existing doubts or insecurities. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t experience a little insecurity every so often. Individuals have the tendency to put others down to feel excellent about themselves and to rationalize their own options. It takes a very positive and fearless female to get rid of that type of guilt, neglect social bias and judgment and feel safe in the understanding that she is living according to her own values and top priorities. Helane Morrison is a example of powerful lady as she became the SEC administrator.

As Sandberg recommends, perhaps ladies need to be more assertive in pursing promotions, more confident in their abilities and in providing their ideas, more persistent about sharing domestic duties. These are positive key behaviors that will serve us well no matter what we decide to do. Possibly as a society we should evaluate a little less and accept a bit more.

Redefining Success as Women

However maybe the apparent lack of development with women and corporate success is not truly about insecurity or refusing to step up to the table. Possibly it’s a little more complicated than that. Perhaps it has to do with declining the idea that an effective, effective business lady must, by definition, likewise be a bitch. Possibly it’s about an objection to jeopardize priorities or to compromise family to fit some approximate meaning of what it indicates to be successful. Perhaps females DO desire everything and are no more willing to accept less.

Possibly, simply perhaps, females are collectively rejecting an antiquated industrial corporate design and are choosing not to do business in the way that its constantly been done. Statistics note that the variety of women-owned businesses has increased by 50% over the last decade and a half. Company size and earnings have not increased however perhaps that’s by choice and design, not for lack of desire or ambition. Possibly it’s possible that progress by means of the corporate ladder has actually slowed since women have embraced the spirit of the Gen-Y Millennials and are in fact in the process of redefining success and rewriting the rules to do company on our own terms.

Perhaps ladies are understanding that we can have everything. It just might look and feel a little different than exactly what our grannies, moms, aunties or perhaps we ever envisioned. Keep in mind, behind every successful lady is herself!

One thing is for sure though – it’s a lot easier and faster to be successful if you are the one composing the rules. We do need strong, confident and capable ladies in corporate-level and Board positions. Not to increase stats or reflect equal representation or perhaps to simply reveal ’em all that women are just as able as men. Ladies have to be an essential part of making the decisions and policies that form the method company can be done and to redefine success.


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