Female Bosses Have To Choose Between Being Loved & Being Feared

Illustration for article titled Female Bosses Have To Choose Between Being Loved & Being Feared

Different standards for men and women in the workplace? You don't say! A new study shows that a female boss is judged differently than a male boss. According to Live Science, Kristin Byron of Syracuse University tested managers, asking them to rate the emotional state depicted on a series of photos showing facial expressions and audio clips with different tones of voice. Then Byron surveyed the managers' staff, asking them how their bosses rated when they considered statements like "My manager shows concern for me as a person," "My manager can inspire enthusiasm for a project" and "I am satisfied with the degree of respect/fair treatment I get from my boss." Female managers who were bad at reading unspoken emotions we seen as uncaring, and got lower ratings from their staff. But male bosses who were crappy at figuring out emotions didn't get the same negative marks. Bottom line? People expect female bosses to be "understanding, kind, supportive and sensitive," Byron says. In other words, more like your mother.

As for men, Byron says, "It is far more important for male managers... to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning." Who cares? An "understanding" boss is better, right? Wrong, according to a research by Harvard Business. Researcher Steve Kaplan found that CEO skills can be classified into two areas: "Hard" skills like aggressiveness, follow-through and speed; and "soft" skills like creativity, listening and team skills. Guess which set of skills were shared by highly successful CEOs? The aggro ones. "Our results do not necessarily mean that soft skills are unimportant," Kaplan says. So if you're a woman with "hard" skills, your employees hate you; if you're supportive and "soft,"you're going nowhere. Which would you rather? It all goes back to Machiavelli: Is it better to be loved or feared?

Female Bosses Evaluated As 'Office Moms' [MSNBC]
Harvard: "Hard" Skills Trump "Soft" Skills [Harvard Business, via BusinessWeek]

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"In other words, more like your mother."

Hmmm, something tells me you haven't met my mother. Smart as a whip and I love her, but a bigger ball-busting hard-nosed bitch you never did see.

I've had 2 female bosses in my short working career: one who was absolutely batshit and would deny she had said things 10 minutes after she'd said them, and the other was what I would call "firm." I liked her a lot, because there was no emotion or triviality, just calm, competent, straightforward decision-making. When I'm President of the World, I intend to follow her example.