Mean Girls In Leadership

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


There are extreme cases of  “leaning-in” and women asserting themselves in the workplace. In fact, the asserting is more like aggression and the leaning isn’t necessarily “in” but rather on the backs of other employees.

What am I talking about?

I am referring to mean girls in leadership. These are the women that have been given reign over a group of employees and are wielding this perceived power as though it is Thor’s mallet. They are nasty, condescending, backstabbing and will do anything to destroy other women and/or employees that pose a perceived threat. Some are blatant in their attempts to destroy others. In the most dangerous of instances, they will appear to be friendly, courteous and kind; but all the while they are undermining your every accomplishment with a smile.

True leaders don’t get intimidated by employees who know their craft and execute duly. Instead, they champion the strengths in those individuals and elevate their visibility because they know that their superb work is not only a reflection of the individual’s diligence but a testament to your ability to appreciate the strengths of your team.

In my career, I have had at least three lunatics for bosses that just-so-happen to be women. If I am to generalize their behaviors that allow me to categorize them as “lunatics” here is your description:

1) They all were overly friendly to the point that you thought at times you were speaking to one of your girlfriends.

2) They all randomly snapped leading them to micromanage work, lie to create performance issues that were non-existent, and pick fights like grade-school children would in the school yard.

3) Nothing was ever what it seemed with any of them. If you thought you were performing well, you were really doing terrible. Good equals bad and suddenly nothing regarding my employment under their tutelage made sense.

Everything in me despises this sort of toxicity in leadership. Someone is bound to try to challenge me on why I am singling out “women”. Here is your answer: yes, there are bad bosses everywhere and they all aren’t women. Happy? I’m not, because I think these mean girls are a distraction to the overall women’s movement toward total equality and recognition.

I also wonder why companies who see extreme turnover, loss of productivity, or low morale in various departments headed by leaders like this don’t put their foot down and remove the cancer. It’s not reasonable to be nice or to say that this person drives business. Isn’t it far more costly to the business if you have unproductive, disengaged employees?

Stop speaking about issues in leadership like the solution is not within your grasp. You have the ability to shape your employee ecosystem. You also have the ability to create a culture of integrity, respect and all other virtues that attract candidates, retain employees and woo customers.

I am sick of the mean girl game and I am tired of employers dialing-it-in because they don’t want to deal with leadership issues. Additionally, I am disappointed in HR for not being more vociferous and actionable about the negative impact these sorts of leaders have on the organization.

I share some tips on how you can deal with the mean girls of leadership in your organization at the end of the video. Check out my latest  “Ask Czarina” episode below.

“Ask Czarina”- Toxic Women in Leadership Edition



Translate »