The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick-in-Charge

The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick-in-Charge

by Caitlin Friedman

ISBN: 9780767922852

Publisher Crown Business

Published in Self-Help/Success, Business & Investing/Women & Business, Health, Fitness & Dieting

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Sample Chapter


you're a big girl now


Okay. So you're the boss now. The supervisor. The manager. The captain. The taskmaster. Those days of taking orders, running errands, and clock-watching are over forever. At last, you get to call the shots.

As exciting as all this might seem, once the rush of the promotion is over, you might be scratching your head wondering exactly what your new responsibilities entail. Many feel a little lost once we arrive at the grown-up table, not having had many positive managerial role models. Fear not. You know you can do the job; all you need is a little helpful advice to send you on your way.

Whether you supervise two as a shift manager or lord over an entire corporate empire, we will help you take the leap from mediocre to marvelous. And for those of you who are already running the show, we can help you lose that nickname "Bitch on Wheels" and become the leader your employees deserve.

We'll show you what it means to be queen: how to wield your ever-evolving bag of management tricks; discover what is expected of you; decide what you can reasonably expect of your team; and how to jump in and love every minute of your Head Honchoness.

good days and bad days: the good, bad, and ugly aspects of being a manager

Leading can be a daunting task. In some ways it can be positively thrilling. In others, it can be a big old pain in the ass. Just as the freedom, responsibility, and respect start to lift you to cloud nine, the paranoia, fear, and anxiety can bring you crashing back down to earth. Like all things, being the recognized leader can have its highs and lows. Here's a look at the lawns on both sides of the fence.

the good


We might be dreaming, but if you've gotten a promotion, we'd like to assume a nice, whopping raise came along with it. Hopefully you will never again have to struggle to make ends meet and face your credit card bills at the end of the month in tears. Even if the new job doesn't mean a giant windfall, being the boss should put you in a better financial position than you were in before. And if you're not, make sure you check out the sections in chapter 5 on fair pay and lobby for what you deserve.


Power is good. Making decisions that lead to positive outcomes is good. Making the calls, changing the rules, and forging decisions that may alter the course of the entire company can be great. Having the ultimate responsibility is positively thrilling. The bitch boss who throws her weight around, barks orders, and is generally focused on herself while making her employees miserable doesn't have to be you. Once you settle into your new role, you'll find that being the leader means you can be the manager who uplifts employees and gets real enjoyment from watching your colleagues grow and prosper. Building a team, working together, and teaching others will be hugely gratifying. At the end of the day, it can make you feel like a million bucks.


While mentoring your dewy protégées, you yourself will be acquiring new information and facing fresh and exciting challenges every day. Learned knowledge changes us and makes us better mothers, friends, and businesswomen. Growing professionally can be empowering and give you a broader perspective on both the world and your place within it. The more you know the better off you are, both intellectually and resume wise. Don't forget the journey to becoming a great leader is a lifelong one.


Ultimately, if you succeed, the prestige and glow of success will make all the mistakes and missteps worthwhile. There is no greater feeling in the world than a job well done.

the bad


The sad reality is there's never enough training offered to employees. Even among the companies that have well-established training programs, there will be plenty of times when you just don't know what to do. You would think that when a new person is hired they would be handed all the necessary tools to do a job effectively. Maybe the person before you fled the job or was fired, and the people who remain don't really know what she did. Perhaps everyone is too busy to sit down and go through your job in detail. Whatever the reason, your training will probably consist of "Here's your office. Good luck." It's up to you to figure out how to achieve your goals using the best resource you have--your staff.


For all of the positive things your new role as a manager can bring, the scariest one is the isolation you will feel as the woman at the top of the corporate ladder. You have the responsibility to make your team a success, and if it fails, you take the blame. Gone are the days when you can be everyone's gal pal. No more shuffling off to the lunchroom to spend an hour shooting the breeze about the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. When asked the biggest mistake that new managers make, 90 percent of the women whom we interviewed replied that they tried to be liked. You are not there to be anyone's friend. You are in the leadership role to provide the tools and environment that your team needs to accomplish their goals. If the team is not accomplishing the goals, with all the appropriate support, then you, new manager, will have to reprimand and maybe terminate team members who aren't measuring up. This power that you gain when promoted will separate you from your team.


This is a tough one. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what kind of a day you're having, you absolutely, positively cannot freak out. It doesn't matter if your car died in the middle of the interstate on the way to work, or that you just found out your husband has been having an affair. Your personal problems should not come into the workplace. At Ann's first job as an assistant, her boss was trying to adopt a baby. She had a special cell phone just for potential birth mothers to call. When her boss was in a meeting, Ann was required to man the baby phone. If a potential birth mother called, Ann would have to chase down her boss. If her boss couldn't be disturbed, she would have to interview the potential birth mother and try to schedule a time for a callback. Ann was honored at the amount of trust put in her by her boss, but scared to death that if she messed up the baby phone, not only was she jeopardizing her job, she could potentially cause her boss to lose the baby she was so desperately trying to get. While adopting a baby was obviously the priority for her boss, it was unfair to make it Ann's responsibility.


The team's problems are now your problems--individually and collectively. As a matter of fact, everyone's problems become your problems. If a member of your group has a sick child and can't be there for the ten o'clock meeting with the biggest client, then you have to figure out a way to cover for her without the client ever knowing. If your top account executive loses the biggest account, and your department won't make its numbers, then you will have to find a replacement account or shrink the team to cover the shortfall. And at the very least, you will have to take the heat from your management. If someone on your team opens an e-mail from her boyfriend that infects your entire office with a virus, erasing all your records from the last five years, then you and the IT department have a very big problem. No more hiding until the storm blows over. It will be your responsibility to mobilize the team, board up the windows, and evacuate.


Delivering bad news is never easy; deciding to severely impact someone's livelihood by terminating them because they can't cut the mustard, just plain sucks. We've devoted almost an entire upcoming chapter to the f-word, firing.

the ugly


With each step you climb up the corporate ladder, the farther down you will go if you fall off. You will exist in constant fear of living up to expectations (although the rest of the group shouldn't know it), getting the job done effectively, and accomplishing the team's goals. The higher you go, the more you're under scrutiny from the ones beneath you who think they can do your job better and the ones above you who think they are paying you too much. If you don't create positive relationships from the get-go, those go-getters will take every opportunity to prove that they are more suited to your job. We're not suggesting you become paranoid, but suggest that you remain aware of the changing dynamics of your senior position. In an upcoming chapter, we will explore why management experts recommend forging relationships with those above, below and equal to you in the organization.


KILL BILL (2003)--Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii, the Evil Crime Boss of Tokyo's Underworld. When one of her peers questions her leadership, she cuts his head off without missing a beat.

Lesson: You need to have an open door policy for all your employees so they can speak their minds. Firing or reprimanding someone just for disagreeing with you is unacceptable.

DISCLOSURE (1994)--Demi Moore as Meredith Johnson. She comes on to her employee, then acts like he sexually harassed her. Evil ensues through lies and cover-ups.

Lesson: Never, ever, ever, ever hit on or flirt with an employee, and never use sex to leverage your power. Granted, Demi's problems in this movie go deeper than that, but your own sexuality should never come into play in the workplace.

WORKING GIRL (1988)--Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker. Steals her employee's idea, then gets it in the end when her employee steals her life.

Lesson: Never take credit for a coworker's or subordinate's hard work. You'll look like a bitch and lose the trust of your employees. Not to mention you might find yourself as the target of a good case of revenge.

TRUTH OR DARE (1991)--Madonna as herself. In this documentary of the material girl, she is revealed as the worst kind of boss. She exerts a sort of maternal control over her dancers, going from being their best friend to being a total bitch.

Lesson: Bipolar Betty has no place in the office. You have to remain consistent, loyal, and unbiased with all your employees no matter how badly they screw up.

RAISING HELEN (2004)--Helen Mirren as Dominique. As the boss of a modeling agency, when her employee inherits her sister's kids, she proves the workplace is less than family-friendly by stealing her clients and belittling her in front of the staff for being late to a meeting.

Lesson: Yes, you have to think of the company's well-being first, but in the end it is the staff that is the company. As long as the work is getting done, you can create a positive and flexible work environment for your team.

101 DALMATIANS (1996)--Glenn Close as Disney uber-villainess Cruella De Vil. Not only is she a puppy killer, in this live-action version of the classic cartoon she terrorizes her employees at her fashion design firm by screaming, throwing things, and generally humiliating all of those who work for her.

Lesson: Never lead with fear. It is possible to have a firm hand and still enjoy the respect of your colleagues. Using terror tactics is never the way to make your office function efficiently. Firm but fair is the way to go.

CATWOMAN (2004)--Sharon Stone as Laurel Hedare. When her employee figures out that the "miracle" anti-aging face cream her cosmetics company makes has terrible side effects, Laurel actually resorts to murder to prevent her from revealing the truth.

Lesson: A. Never lie to your employees. B. If you do, be ready to face the repercussions when the truth is revealed.

the job: key functions and roles

Though the responsibilities of any management job can vary wildly depending on what business you're in, there are a few elemental duties you'll be asked to perform that translate across the board. We'll touch on these here first, but go into each in greater detail in the upcoming chapters.


Putting together your team and keeping it in line will be your most important role as a manager. You will need to decide if additional employees are needed and can be afforded. You must provide constant access to and evaluate the ones you have. If the creative department is swamped, staying late every night, and bickering because they are burned out, it is up to you to decide how to help ease the workload.

In our research, the single biggest criticism we heard about women managers is that they are too emotional. They should just be more professional. After all, business is just business. But is it? Business is actually done through the coming together of a number of individuals with very different styles and personalities. And as a manager, you will have to find a way to make them the most productive they can be.

Hiring, firing, evaluating, and promoting are the most emotional decisions you can make. Take hiring, for example. A responsible hiring manager will solicit a number of résumés, weed them down to the top candidates, interview the candidates a few times, check references, and then make a decision. When faced with a few candidates with similar strengths, how do you choose? You try and figure out who will be the best personality fit for the group and hope for the best.

When it doesn't work out, then you have to fire. And don't tell us that firing employees isn't an emotional exercise. You are taking away a person's livelihood and perhaps that of their family too. Emotions come into play. The trick for women is to be able to manage their emotions as well as they manage staff. Consistency is the best you can hope for and is probably good enough to keep the emotional criticism out of the office.


For those times your staff isn't in flux, creating a business plan and delegating its various aspects will be your main managerial task. This includes earmarking what needs to be accomplished on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and long-term basis, making a schedule and determining who on your team is best to handle each assignment. You will be asking questions such as: Is this a one-woman job? Would putting your workers into teams be more productive?

Delegating doesn't just mean telling your team what to do. You have to make sure they understand the project and how best to achieve its goal. Communication is the only way to make sure everyone stays on schedule. Checking in on a regular basis through progress reports and being involved will ensure the job gets done right.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from "The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick-in-Charge" by Caitlin Friedman. Copyright © 2007 by Caitlin Friedman. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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