Guest Post: Successfully Managing Men at Work

Successfully Managing Men | CorporetteShould you manage men differently than women? We’ve talked about becoming a boss, delegating work, motivating a lazy secretary, and whether you should be friends with staffers — but not this particular topic. I’m honored to welcome Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl to the blog — a new mama herself (congrats!), Anna is a leadership coach for ambitious women, and the author of the new book,  The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men. Welcome, Anna! – Kat. (Pictured: World’s Best Boss, originally uploaded to Flickr by Kumar Appaiah.)

As an overachieving chick, you are bound to have the challenge of managing men at work. You might be worried about coming across as too strong, aggressive, or bitchy. You might not be confident in yourself because you don’t really understand men. You might be uncomfortable around the men you work with. I know I was.

For eight years I worked in a male-dominated work environment and I quickly found out that understanding men was the key to getting promoted. Once I learned how to manage both genders successfully, I finally started getting ahead.

Here are the keys I found to successfully manage men at work:

  • Stop being a perfectionist. Striving for perfection is one of those things that you think would be a great strength to have as a female leader, but it can be especially negative when managing men who don’t have the same concern for perfection. We are all imperfect and trying to get to perfect can come with a lot of stress. Also, perfection kills creativity, which is very important when managing a team.
  • Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Your success as a manager depends on how confidently and comfortably you lead. You want to be authentic and never want to act like someone you aren’t. Be proud of your female leadership strengths and don’t try to manage like a man. Female leaders have many great leadership strengths to be proud of such as collaboration, intuition, and empathy.
  • Get straight to the point. Cutting to the chase quickly is really important when managing men. One of the biggest mistakes a female manager can make is to communicate with a man the same way she would communicate with a woman. When you are speaking to a male employee, keep it short and sweet. If you can reduce the time you spend in the conversation and get to the point as quickly as possible, the more success you will have.
  • Don’t be afraid to assert yourself. Assertiveness is an easy way to quickly gain respect from the men on your team. Men respect a woman who speaks her mind and challenges others. Men want to hear your voice because you have different strengths and a different viewpoint to the team. Men also expect interruptions because that is what they are used to when they are around other men.
  • Embrace the competition. It’s no secret that men like to compete. You should create opportunities for your employees to cooperatively compete with each other even if your current work environment is non-competitive. Competition can help men excel beyond what they or even you thought possible. Competing with them will often lead to higher-quality work and it will build trust at the same time.

Readers, what do you think — have you had issues or challenges managing men? What have been your keys to success?


N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!


  1. I’ll be interested to see the comments on this. I manage a staff of five and two are male. I’m trying to think if I manage them differently than my female staffers (vs. simply managing them in a way that fits their unique traits) and I’m drawing a blank.

    • I agree. I manage individuals, who are all different anyway.

      • Penny Proud :

        Excellent. Thank you for this.

      • Spirograph :

        Agree wholeheartedly. People on my team have a wide array of personality traits and communication styles, and not all of them fit conventional gender stereotypes.

        Also, I am nothing if not direct. Apparently I manage like a man.

        • Orangerie :

          +1,000. Indirectness bugs the [email protected] out of me, so I guess I must always look for male managers… *eyeroll*

        • Agree! I don’t lead like “most” women; I lead more like a typical man. I’m direct, assertive, and competitive. So far, it’s worked out well. I do try to be careful that I don’t come off as TOO direct, aggressive, or competitive, though.

          There’s a man on our team who does the overcommunication thing and doesn’t get right to the point. I think this post’s points are accurate for “most” men but of course there are exceptions.

      • I would hope this is the rule. Otherwise, aren’t you discriminating by treating people differently because of their gender?

    • Manage men by making sure they do not try and manipulate you because you are a woman. Some men will use their sex as a tool to manipulate women as they view themselves as the leaders, even though you are their managers. Never go out drinking with them, even as a manager, because once you are drinking, they will take advantage of the situation, if not by sex, then by manipulation in the future. Also, needless to say, do not ever sleep with (or even kiss) a subordinate, or they will manipulate you in the future, demanding more sex, or more likely, more money and promotions because they did you a favor by sleeping with you.

    • Hi
      I am working as a quality auditor in aircraft maintenance company. In my field there, among the team of 20, I am the only female.
      The engineer there is so rude and loud and dramatic. I don’t get the courage to deal with that person. Also I am not technically that sound.
      My colleague, who takes care of all the maintenance activities also makes me feel less and inefficient.
      He works less and shows more. His quality of work is also not to the point. But his response timings are just so good.

  2. Does anyone want to comment on managing a man who refuses to report to a woman? Please don’t bother with “talk to HR” type suggestions. Not going to happen.

    • If he refuses to report to a woman, he needs to be written up and (if this behavior persists) fired.

    • If he refuses to report to you, can’t you give him a terrible performance review and put him on a performance plan? If you’re talking about project management, you need to keep his manager in the loop. If he’s leaving you out of things, cc his manager on emails (such as ones where you say “Hi X, I still haven’t received your update on project X per the project’s reporting rhythm” or “X, your deliverable is late.”) He’s accountable to somebody and if he’s not doing what he is supposed to do, it can be communicated to those people.

      • Yes, this “he’s accountable to somebody…” probably whoever designated you to be in charge of him. I would be sure you have documented incidents of him blowing off your authority (if not start accumulating them) , warn him one time that if this behavior continues you will have to bring it up with [whoever put you in charge of this guy and presumably has an interest in you and the guy producing whatever you are supposed to be producing]. The follow through. personally I wouldn’t say “Jim refuses to report to “A WOMAN,” instead I would just say, “Jim refuses to report to ME and therefor the following consequences are occurring to [whatever work you are supposed to be accomplished].

        Sadly, I know this is easier said than done, but if the powers that be won’t back you on this, consider moving on.

    • Spirograph :

      I didn’t have this problem with a subordinate, but with a peer. We were both mid-level managers and needed to be able to work collaboratively, and it became clear very soon after he was hired that he had an issue working with women. We’ve come to an understanding now, although I’m not quite sure how. I can only think after working with/near me for a couple months, he realized I was in that position because I was competent, respected, and qualified and not because of my feminine wiles or whatever other terrible ideas he had at first. We’re not super friendly, but it works.

      So commiseration, but the only advice I can offer is to keep doing your job well. Don’t tiptoe around him, but limit your interactions with him to socially-required politeness and work-related communication. Communicate – via e-mail if possible, so it’s documented – very clearly what you need from him, and how and when you need it delivered. If he doesn’t do it, it’s no longer a gender issue, it’s a job performance issue, and you can address it that way.

    • You need buy in from your boss and/or the person (if not your boss) that this man tries to get around/ report into in lieu of you. IE if he’s going to someone else to get priorities or taking work from. You need these people in your corner (a) backing your decisions and (b) not feeding this guy new work.

      Another idea, depending on your relationship with whomever is feeding him the work- go to that person and say “I really need Bob focused on Y, Z and D. Please go through me before tapping him to do anything that is not related to Y, Z and D.”

    • First, that sucks. I recommend regular doses of wine and cookies after work.

      Second, I would be super assertive and clear with direction you are giving him so there is no room for him to claim confusion. Annoying, but I would document any direct tasks or feedback you give him a follow up email. I think you need to start building a paper trail.

      It seems like in your office, it would be more likely to be able to fire/discipline him for not following orders than for being generally disrespectful.

    • Yikes.

      Can you frame it to your supervisor (or to Joe, if you are it) as “Joe refuses to report to his supervisor (you?), therefore Joe is insubordinate, insubordination is unacceptable and undermines the authority of the supervisor, will not be tolerated,” and not “Joe refuses to work for a female”? The bottom line is he is insubordinate, regardless of who the supervisor is or what the gender, and insubordination is unacceptable in most business models. Progressive discipline should weed this out or get him to explicitly state what you’ve said here*, which is then likely an easier issue to address depending on your org’s policies etc.

      (*…assuming that he hasn’t already been explicit about not reporting to females)

  3. This strikes me overall as pretty essentialist, e.g. “one of the biggest mistakes a female manager can make is to communicate with a man the same way she would communicate with a woman.” I think most busy adults appreciate it when you keep conversations “short and sweet.” Advice like this seems to further the stereotypes that women want to spend 20 minutes warming up by talking about shoes or feelings, but men are all business all the time.

    A lot of it, too, goes back to the question of whether women should simply be expected to “act like men” to be respected and successful at work. I really wish we could tend more toward universal guidelines for being respectful and mature with each other. Ask A Manager, for example, almost never refers to gender in her advice, and it feels a lot more practical and relevant to me.

    • I work in a very male dominated field (engineering) where many times it is 90% male. I never had a female manager. I don’t know what about it but the term “short and sweet” bothered me too. I have seen many men including my previous manager who talk so much that I just wanted them to stop and there are some men who I avoid because they just don’t stop once they start talking. The post implies that women just talk unnecessary things before coming to the point.

      • Oh, absolutely. The single biggest time-waster in my career thus far has been male bosses who enjoyed the sound of their own voices. But it really hasn’t been much of an issue with the women I’ve worked with.

        • AnonLawMom :

          +1 I have never worked with a woman who wasted my time with random small talk or simply taking too long to get to the point. In my experience, only men have done this. Of course, I have worked with far more men than women so it may just be a numbers game. It seems like the women I work with are more time sensitive because they are often more motivated to “work while at work” so they can get home to family sooner. A good portion of men I have worked with clearly do not feel this way and enjoy shooting the s h * t at work in part because they want to go home late and claim to be “so busy” to their wives.

      • +1 I agree. Kat and Anna Ryunian, these are all great idea’s that I will incorporate in my practice. Thank you for thinkeing of them!!!! Now that I am not onley being managed by the manageing partner (male), I am also manageing another attorney (Mason) who is ALSO male. So I have to be VERY diplomatic in dealeing with 2 men, one of which NOW report’s to me.

        The manageing partner assigned Mason to me b/c he want’s me to get alot of managerieal experience before the manageing partner retires b/c he expect’s me to be abel to take over ALL aspect’s of the firm after he retire’s. My big challenge is to ensure that I get Mason to do a day’s work for a day’s pay b/c the manageing partner onley brought him in b/c he was the son of a freind of a big cleint and Mason could not get a good job after he failed the bar 3 time’s and was NOT at the top of his class in school. The manageing partner think’s he is a bit of a schlub, but he did it b/c of the busness, and that is what he want’s me to do — focus on the marketing aspect of law. Now it is my job to get NEW cleint’s as well as manage the existing stabel of cleint’s.

        The manageing partner’s brother keep’s texteing me. I wish he would respect my privacy while on vacation. I think Myrna was right. He might have a crush on me. I will have to take a look when I get back to see if she is right. FOOEY!

        • what’s up with the -ing and ‘s etc? Incredible.
          Doesn’t this bother you in your line of work?

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I agree with you. I’ve worked in a variety of environments from a male-dominated warehouse to really conservative offices split between men and women. Everyone has their own particular style of communication. Some want a ton of detail, some want things couched in casual conversation, others want to get straight to the point. I honestly can’t say whether men or women seem to fall into one category or the other more often. You just have to learn how best to communicate with the individual.

      The only time I think this really becomes an issue is what is discussed above when AAM simply refers to report to a woman solely because she is a woman. I’ve been lucky enough not to experience that myself though.

    • Maudie Atkinson :

      It is gender essentialist, full stop, without the qualifier. And it is pretty disappointing.

    • Good comment. Effective leaders find a way to communicate productively with the *individuals* in their charge.
      Also, while I do think good managers have to be able to adapt to their subordinates, subordinates also need to learn to adapt to management style of the leader. I might know I need to approach a particular employee in certain way, and I’ll adjust somewhat to accommodate that so that my message gets through, but I am also not going to step outside my general management style. Unless the manager is outright inappropriate, the employees need to accept direction, whether it comes in the form they find most palatable or not.

  4. I had mixed feelings (interest and dread?) when I saw this topic, but honestly I think these recommendations are actually very good.

    I work in a male dominated field. While I have had excellent experiences being managed by men, I have had a difficult time as a “manager”. I have sensed very different responses from some of the young men I have managed, and definitely notice when I am not treated with appropriate respect. It also upsets me more than it should, as I struggle a little bit too much with wanting to be “liked”…. ugh…

    But while most of the time I do not think twice about whether the person I am managing is a man or woman, I think these recommendations would work well for some of my more difficult situations.

  5. I guess I need to be managed like a man. And/or, I guess I need the “how to manage women” talk, since it looks like I manage everyone like a man :)

    • Yeah, the “managing men” advice seems to correlate to “steps to take to be an effective manager to people in general.” I’ve had a lot harder time working with women than I ever have with men. Is that because they’re women? I don’t think so. I think it was because they were difficult people that happened to be women.

      I await with curiosity and dread what the comments on this post are like.

    • The few difficulties I have encountered with co-workers have been women not men . Honestly, I can put up with occasional clueless comments by men, but I really don’t know how to handle passive aggressive female behavior.

  6. As a senior associate at a firm, junior associates often come to me regarding projects/expectations/etc from our partners. One issue I have repeatedly seen is miscommunication between female partners and male associates cause by the female partners doing something stereotypically female: passive-aggressive leadership and not saying what they mean, rather than directly stating their expectations, they dance around the topic and expecting the associate to “read between the lines.” This is followed by the male associate responding with “I cant guess what she wants, I’m not a mind reader.” For example, a partner says “this is your minimum billable hours for the year,” associate comes in early every day and is on track to exceed the minimum by a substantial margin, partner then tells associate he needs to put in more hours. Associate comes to me and says “what am I doing wrong? she says I need more hours but look at my hours.” What partner really means is “I want you in the office during the same hours I am here, particularly evenings when I need your assistance the most.” i.e. more face time.

    • Diana Barry :

      I have had this exact issue with a few different female partners in the past, passive-aggressive leadership. It is SO ANNOYING. Tell me what you mean, for the love of Pete!

    • TO Lawyer :

      Passive-aggressive leadership is not just a problem from females though – my (male) boss is very passive-aggressive and will never tell me when he’s upset – he just ignores me. It’s so frustrating and I really just want to burst into his office and yell at him sometimes to tell me what he wants from me.

      • +1. I am not sure what benefit there is to making this a male/female issue rather than a passive aggressiveness issue.

      • Yep. Male boss, same problem. In fact, the only person in our office who isn’t passive aggressive also happens to be the only woman who supervises me.

  7. This whole post reads to me just like the “How to supervise/manage women” instructional videos of the 40s(?). Reversing sexism like this is, in my opinion, the antithesis of feminism. I’m really surprised (and disappointed) to see something like this here.

    Also: “Female leaders have many great leadership strengths to be proud of such as collaboration, intuition, and empathy.” I’ve known plenty of female leaders who lacked these qualities. There are far too many generalizations.

    • Rachelellen :

      I sort of agree. And any post that starts, “as an overachieving chick, you are bound to have the challenge of managing men at work…” makes me think Ellen is writing it. Phooey.

      • I would actually prefer a guest post written by Ellen to this. She sometimes gives good advice if you can look past the ALL CAPS and misspellings.

      • Anonymous :

        I think ELLEN would have provided much more sound, practical advice on management than this post attempted to.

    • Anonymous :

      Ginjury I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. My first thought when seeing this subject was, “how many of us would be annoyed/offended by a similar article geared toward men on how to manage women”? I’m sure many would be responding with comments like “my gender doesn’t matter! I don’t want to be treated differently!” Honestly … just manage people.

  8. I feel like books like these are kind of 90’s. Are there certain qualities that seem to be more common in men vs women? Possibly. But boiling it down and attributing them to each seems kind of offensive and slightly out of touch.

    According to this post, female leaders are perfectionists, collaborative, intuitive, empathetic, prefer long and roundabout conversations, afraid to assert themselves, and not competitive. Men are competitive, don’t care about perfection, not strongly collaborative, not strongly intuitive, not strongly empathetic, prefer short and sweet conversations, prone to interruptions, and competitive.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think that some of these points shouldn’t be discussed, but the way it’s worded rubs me the wrong way.

  9. Honestly, of all the drama and shenanigans and such that have gone on here in the past (and I’ve been reading over 5 years), this post offends me more than anything. I agree with virtually every criticism everyone has made above.

    I also would like to say that even if this were general management advice vs directed at men, it is trite and obvious. “Get to the point quickly” and “Be authentic” should be pretty d** obvious in my book regardless of who you are managing.

    Also, “The worst mistake you can make is talking to a man as you would a woman”? ! WTF does that even mean? I am trying to think of a concrete example of something I would phrase totally differently depending on whether I was asking a female vs. male report….Unless I want to see if someone can spare a tampon I really can’t think of anything. The lack of specific examples really discredits the advice even further than its language.

    FWIW I do know some woman who take a very delicate approach to every conversation and infuse it with feelings-type talk, slooowly work up to whatever point they are trying to make, are extra careful to infuse every conversation with references to feelings, and generally behave in a reticent, passive-aggressive way. BUT I also know some men like that, and in my experience that kind of touchy feely woo-woo stuff is a matter of office culture not gender. It rubs me the wrong way (and I am a woman).

    Plus this does no favors for the men who may not fit all of these extremely broad, over simplistic stereotypes. I happen to love competition; I know men who do not.

    ARGGHH! So sorry I wasn’t more diplomatic in providing constructive criticism here but I guess I am just practicing my newly learned “how to manage men” skills and being assertive! Hope you” dainty ladies” (as some seem to deem you) don’t mind being used as guinea pigs. [sarcasm directed at guest poster, not fellow commenters].

    I really could go on and on(and probably revise the above to be more concise and articulate) but it’s just getting me more worked up.

    • Golfballs :


      This is about managing personalities, not genders.

    • Agreed.

      The author is gender-stereotyping to the nth degree in a way that is condescending to both men and women. This would be totally different if it addressed *some* challenges that *some* women may have when managing *some* men – just like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office addresses challenges that *some* women may or may not face. Rather this assumes that men and women act in two uniform, completely separate ways.

      I’m seriously, seriously disappointed in Kat for posting this, to the point where I am reconsidering coming to this site.

      • Yes. This post is ridiculous and offensive. “Female leaders have many great leadership strengths to be proud of such as collaboration, intuition, and empathy.” This is just condescending nonsense, and contributes to my feeling that this blog has a very dated, out-of-touch feeling lately.

    • You throw like a girl!

    • While I agree that the article was worded poorly, i think the concept that managing male employees that have issues with you as a “lady-boss”, as my employees charmingly call me, is real.

      Sexism is very much still alive and well in the workforce and some places it is still very overt.

      Just because it seems slightly anachronistic and not part of your life experience doesn’t mean it’s not very real.

      (See also racism.)

    • I agree 100%. Is this clickbait? It feels like it.

    • Chiming in late, but I agree with this and all the comments above. I’m very, very disappointed to see something like this perpetuating stupid, harmful gender stereotypes on Corporette.

      • Also late to the party – and close to unsubscribing. Do you want to be managed like a woman, a european, an young person, a blue person. No. People are individuals. Manage them as such. Really, really disappointed to read this here.

  10. Laughing peers :

    I know this is slightly off topic. How do you handle when your peers laugh at you when you ask a question or when you propose a new way of solving a problem. I have worked for more than 7 years (engineering) and never had this problem before I joined my current team. I am the only female working with 5 – 6 men. Initially I was taken aback and didn’t know how to react. But as I learnt more about the work I am doing, I became more confident. Now, when they laugh, I let them laugh and ask the question again and tell them why I asked the question or made the proposal. I am good at what I am doing and the questions that I asked have been appreciated and answered well by the customers or vendors and in general they have given good feedback about me to my manager. It happened recently when we were on a conference call with like 25 people and my team members started laughing at me. It was so loud that the person who was presenting couldn’t even speak. Neither the presenter or myself found anything funny in the question that I asked. Once the laughter died down, he appreciated that I brought it up and answered me well. It was hard to digest that these 4 – 5 people laughed at me in front of 20 others. Though I am managing it better than before, I still don’t feel I am managing it well enough.

    • What kind of question are they laughing about? There can be a certain attitude in certain tech/engineering circles that is sort of a combination of “we’re the smartest people in the world!” and “trying too hard is so uncool.” If that’s what you’re encountering, the only solution is to call them out on it – not explicitly, but say something in a friendly tone like, “Oh no, what’s so funny about that? Have you tried this before?” It might also help to make friends with them and ask one of them for advice in a mentorish way, even though you may not actually like them or want their advice, or even just get to know them on a friendly level. Maybe they’ll relax around you, or maybe they’ll tip you off to some faux pas you’re making. Of course, your situation could be completely different.

    • That is just so unacceptable and makes me ragey!

      It sounds like you are handling it in the best way possible. The only thing you might want to add is to start asking them directly if something that you said was funny. I have heard a similar approach suggested for when someone tells an inappropriate joke and you ask them to explain why it’s funny, and it seems to have a high success rate.

      Sorry you are dealing with this. Keep your head up, and if it continues, you may want to start looking for a new job.

    • Laughing peers :

      They laugh at valid technical questions and they laugh even before I complete what I am saying. It is happening because all of them think they are very smart and look down upon others. They kind of team up when they want to bully some one. I have worked with people much smarter and I have never encountered this problem. I don’t doubt myself if I am asking the right questions because almost all the times it uncovers something that nobody had given much thought before.

      It was worse before as the previous manager (who was fired) used to enable this behavior. I had started looking for a job but things got better with the arrival of a new manager. I am continuing with this job for one more year only because I want this experience on my resume.

      • Yikes. If they’re anything like the people I know they hate confrontation, calling them out in a meeting on an individual basis or even just talking to them one-on-one face to face is more effective. Everyone probably knows what they’re like. I’m not really proud of it, but in my experience saying something to embarrass/shame them, “Individual person, do you have some insight to share on this topic? You are very giggly today. It must be pretty funny if you’re interrupting the meeting” and then I just don’t let them off the hook until they answer in front of everyone. Or a technical smackdown, like “you might be unfamiliar with Y, but here’s how this technology works and this is why this question is relevant. Do you have any questions? If you’re looking to brush up on it, this book is a good resource.”

        I don’t really know the “right” or professional way to do it and I’m sure they’ve called me a bitch, but I have gotten promoted out of those groups and no one has ever said anything to me about it so I really don’t care. Don’t take it personally. I would love to hear others’ advice on this topic, too.

      • Rachelellen :

        Hang in there. You sound way too good for them.

      • I personally would not hesitate to go up to each person after a meeting, look him in the eye and ask, “I don’t understand why you laughed when I asked X? Can you explain?” Act _really_ stupid and see what they say.

        If it’s on a teleconference again, I would do what the poster above suggested. Call out someone whose laugh you recognize and ask if he could clarify why your question was so funny.

        Bullies bully people who let them do it. Call them out. Shame them for acting this way. It’s not respectful or professional.

    • Is there anyone on the team who is the natural “leader”? I would go to that person (or a couple people) one on one and just say, “I’ve noticed people laughing when I ask questions during meetings and it throws me off every time because I’m not sure what’s funny. Am I missing something?” I’m sure you’ll get some half-assed explanation, or better yet, a total denial that it’s happening. Then, wait until it happens again and make strong eye contact with the person you talked to, and say something along the lines of, “Oh, see, Jim? This is what I was talking about. I was just talking with Jim a couple days ago how weird it is that everyone laughs at these questions but he wasn’t really sure why it was happening. Anyway, what I was going to say is…”

      You can repeat as necessary with various team members, but I think the talking 1:1 followed by getting called out on it during the meetings will make them uncomfortable enough about it to stop. Even if you don’t want to say anything in the meeting, talking one on one and then giving them a raised eyebrow during the meeting may be deterrent enough. You gotta be solid with the eye contact though – stare them down when they start laughing; they might look at the other people in the room at first but they will eventually glance over to see if they’ve gotten to you and then BAM you’re looking right at them. Don’t look down or away. (Obviously this doesn’t work if it’s only over phone conferences.)

    • I also work in engineering, and have had this happen to me. It was only one person in a room of eight (which may make a difference), but here’s how I handled it. I looked straight at the laugher, who was the most senior guy in the room, and said with as little emotion or inflection as possible: “Why are you laughing?”

      The room got very quiet and all of the men in the room, including the laugher and also our manager, looked away uncomfortably. After an appropriate period of silence I resumed what I was saying originally. Never happened again.

  11. I… don’t even know what this is. Not only is this advice generally offensive, but some of it isn’t even correct. “[R]educe the time you spend in conversation”? “Create opportunities to… compete”? What ever happened to relationship-building?

  12. “Female leaders have many great leadership strengths to be proud of such as collaboration, intuition, and empathy.”

    Tell it to Margaret Thatcher.

    Kat, this is hands-down the most offensive item (post or comment) that I’ve ever seen on this site.

  13. Need to Improve :

    This post offends me. I am disappointed to see this type of stereotyping on here.

    I am sick and tired of going to women’s leadership meetings, ets. where the whole theme is “Women are from Venus, men are from Mars.” Not all women are innately incapable of advocating for themselves or being assertive, so let’s stop telling them that they are! We are reinforcing the problem.

    And what the hell does this mean: “One of the biggest mistakes a female manager can make is to communicate with a man the same way she would communicate with a woman”? I communicate with PEOPLE.

    And this: “[perfectionism] can be especially negative when managing men who don’t have the same concern for perfection.” This is offensive to men.

  14. You know, I think that there are ways that men and women think and communicate differently, as general rule with many, many exceptions. So it makes sense to me on some level to investigate that, especially in personal relationships. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is a book of trite generalities that still has a core of truth, and there is some wisdom that can be gained.

    However, that said, I have ZERO TOLERANCE for bringing that sh*t into the workplace. My subordinates had better care much more about me being the boss than me being a woman. And I would never insult my employees by assuming that my sex or theirs bears on our workplace interactions.

  15. I found this post interesting, but mainly because I’ve noticed significant differences in how I interact with male authority figures as opposed to female authority figures. I have a much greater tendency to joke around with male authority figures, give them cr*p, and just generally act less respectfully toward them (*regardless of their individual personalities, which is the biggest problem*). I think it comes from spending time with my extended family of male uncles, where you had to be able to both take it and give it to avoid being eaten alive. When I’m dealing with female authority figures, on the other hand, I have a much better sense of boundaries, and the relationship tends to be much more respectful and professional. I hear lots of people say they prefer male bosses, but I’m quickly coming to realize that I prefer female bosses, if only because I personally seem to work better with them.

  16. I’m not offended by this post, but that’s because I think it is utterly vapid and devoid of actual advice.

    Love and fabuliciousness.

    • anon-oh-no :

      im with you. this post is silly. but why people are offended by something like this is beyond me.

      • We’re offended because the guest poster and Kat seem to think this essentialist advice on interacting with the opposite gender is actually useful to any of us. It’s insulting to be given utterly vapid advice that is devoid of any actual, useful points.

        • not one of "any of us" :

          Ginjury, you’ve just discounted the experiences of the handful of people who have commented and said, “I needed this” or “hey, community, can we go one step farther and solve problem [x].” It’s wonderful that your experience of the world means this post wasn’t useful to you, but it was useful to some people. As I said below, it’s okay to be offended by this post, but it provides concrete behaviors (“stop being perfectionist,” “get straight to the point,” etc.) that people trapped in less egalitarian workplaces can try to cope with the circumstances in which they find themselves. Sincerely, not one of “any of us”

  17. Like other commenters, I found this post offensive and unhelpful. It over-generalizes. I want to be treated as a person, not as a female. My gender shouldn’t matter in a professional environment, and I don’t want to treat people differently based on their gender. Many types of behaviour aren’t gender exclusive. Treating people differently because they are male or female isn’t really helpful. If my boss prefers to chat off-topic with me because I am a woman and doesn’t like to come straight to the point I’d be angry and annoyed.

  18. Anonymous :

    Aw, I love it when we can all agree on something.

  19. This reminds me of a CLE my bar association held recently called Mean Girls, Meaner Women: How to Maintain Professionalism. What? “Othering” ourselves by perpetuating these stereotypes is not “empowerment.” When I see something like this, I always think about how there would never be a Mean Boys, meaner Men version.

  20. Anonymous :

    There are a lot of valid criticisms of this post. It is okay to be offended by this post. But that advice is good for women who still work in offices where the culture is “women managers are something we have to tolerate by law (but we’re not going to take them seriously, rather we’ll undermine them and then use that as further justification of our attitude towards women).” And the comments asking for help real life problems and the subsequent good advice might not have been submitted in response to a more nuanced post that caters to the more egalitarian workplaces. Some of the criticism is targeted well to the faults of the post, but some of the critics are committing the same error they ascribe to this post and its author.

    • This. I am happy that everyone else works at a place devoid of sexism, but I sadly do not.

      I recently gave a technical presentation to a room full of middle aged male leaders and the first question was whether I worked out. No joke.

      • But doesn’t this post just perpetuate more sexism? (NOT to downplay sexism against women; it’s pervasive and egregious). We aren’t going to get anywhere by acting as though men are an alien species and making blanket statements about how men need to be managed.

        • Like I said further up, this was a poorly written post, but no i don’t disagree with the concept of having specific tools to combat sexism in the work place, whether it be from your superiors, your peers or your reports.

          • Maybe I’m misreading your post, but I don’t see how this post helps combat sexism. I think it just exactly the opposite.

          • Wildkitten :

            I don’t think this gives us any tools to combat sexism – because it just IS sexism.

    • Anon for this :

      I work in a department where the women work with women and the men work with men — because the two managers, of opposite sex, show favoritism to those of similar gender. Ridiculous but true.

  21. Wildkitten :

    I don’t worry about coming across as too aggressive, strong, or b1tchy. I’m their boss, not their mom. I actually find women are more likely to worry about personal conflict than men, so if anything I would be more mindful about this with women.

    • How are you anyone’s boss? Didn’t you just get out of school?

      • Wildkitten :

        Yes – law school. I manage non-lawyers. I was a manager during undergrad and before law school too, at the jobs I had then.

  22. Reminds me of an HR-sponsored class on discrimination and gender work styles that my coworkers and I attended – at the end we each were asked to take a “profiling” quiz on work styles and how we related to others at work- my quiz results said I should alter my fact-based style in order to deal better with women! Obviously it had profiled me as a guy…while my guy pal’s results said he should show less emotion in his dealings with others…

  23. This post is completely sexist. I say this as an employment discrimination lawyer, and as a woman. If the article’s instructions were about how male managers can deal with their female employees, every reader would be screaming bloody murder. Disappointing, Corporette!

  24. Some of you who take issue with this article perhaps haven’t managed for many years yet. While managing men is not always a challenge, I would say it is a little stressful about 30% of the time, not because the male employees are bad employees, but because they are on the farther spectrum of male work and styles and I, as a women, don’t care for some of the behaviors on that end of the spectrum. In particular, the hyper competitiveness, hyper ambition (on their sleeves), love of endless meetings, and not realizing that they are taking credit for other people’s work and ideas can sour your relationship and create a lot of tension if you can’t figure out how to deal with these issues. Of course, if you complain to a male supervisor or HR, they will think that the behaviors are completely normal and that you’re the problem. It’s tough, and I won’t pretend I have the answer. I do, however, feel your pain. In terms of communication style, the fact that the people reading this blog are successful in male-dominated careers means they already have learned to modify their spoken communication, even if they don’t realize it. Most men don’t “get” hints, allusions, and circular ways of saying things. They need to hear your decision or your desire in a simple, declarative sentence. Women, as a group, don’t speak to each other that way. We rely on a lot of intuitive communication. Most men (again, a generalization, but I find it to be true) are mystified by what we are saying to each other when they listen women engaged in a conversation. On the other hand, I sometimes get very uncomfortable when I have to be blunt, but men don’t seem to mind, so I’ve learned to take a big breath and just say what I expect. I’ve also learned — and you can laugh if you want, but it works — that if I am changing the topic, I tell the poor guy I’m changing the topic. I do this because so many men have told me they have a hard time following women because we change the course of our conversations mid-stream and it takes them a couple minutes to catch up. Listen to a woman who hasn’t worked outside the home speaking in a meeting some time. Women will all follow her meaning just fine, but the poor guy next to you will need you to translate.

    • anonymama :

      I think it’s wrong that “the fact that the people reading this blog are successful in male-dominated careers means they already have learned to modify their spoken communication;” rather, I would argue that some (many?) women naturally communicate in what is being portrayed as a stereotypically “manlier” way. For example, I definitely prefer communication to be straightforward, even blunt, so I can be clear on expectations rather than having to parse through multiple meanings. I get uncomfortable when I feel like there are levels to the conversation that I may be misinterpreting or outright missing because they are implied rather than explicit. And in my experience, communicating clearly and directly should be a part of managing anyone, not just men. Just look at all the previous advice on this blog about addressing female employees or interns with wardrobe issues… the consensus was that the most effective approach would be to directly address the issue, and that trying to drop hints or otherwise beat around the bush was actually unprofessional and likely to be ineffective.

      I wonder where you are from, and if that has something to do with our different perspectives, because your descriptions don’t really resemble any men or women that I know.

  25. Here are the 14 principles of leadership as defined by the United States Marine Corps:

    Be Loyal
    Be Unselfish
    Be Tactful
    Be Knowledgeable
    Be Just (impartial and consistently so)
    Be dependable
    Have an appropriate bearing/demeanor
    Have courage.
    Be decisive.
    Have stamina.
    Take initiative.
    Be enthusiastic.
    Be honest.
    Possess good judgment.

    Do those things, and you will be an effective leader of men and women whether you are in a law firm, a hospital, an elementary school, or a restaurant.

    That is all.

  26. workingmomz :

    It’s late but I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those who find this post ridiculous. There are very real issues in managing when you’re young, when people don’t accept your authority, when people have different work styles etc. But that’s not necessarily a male v female thing. A post on issues with management or transitioning into management would have been more appropriate and less 1950s.

  27. Working Girl :

    How have you handled subordinates who hit on you or are flirtatious with you?

  28. Kat, I sincerely hope you will take criticisms of this post to heart. I find this material offensive. I recognize that you’re very busy with the new baby, but this post completely missed the mark, and I can see that the majority who commented on this post felt the same. As the owner of this blog, I think it would be great if you addressed some of these concerns. I realize that this blog has become more of a forum for discussion than a two-way conversation between the writer and her commenters, but I think it would be a missed opportunity for dialogue if you don’t engage readers on this post.