I’ve recently had discussions with friends who are dealing with some horrible bosses – people who seem to have made it their life’s mission to denigrate and verbally abuse their staff. I’m not talking about the sort of friends who have problems with superiors on a constant basis – if that were the case, I’d have to question whether or not they were the problem. (I mean, we all know those people who seem to coincidentally (!) have troubles wherever they land, but who don’t seem to recognize that they’re the ones who are the misfits). No, I’m talking about people who work hard and who have plenty of people who could vouch for the quality of their work, their team spirit, and all-around positive attitudes. Interestingly, these friends in the “problem” workplaces all work for other women.
If I had a dollar for every female friend or colleague – including those who are ambitious and who are seeking women’s equality in the workplace – who said that they’d prefer not to work for another woman, I’d be, well, not wealthy, but in a position to buy plenty of nice things. Of course, there are great women out there in leadership, executive and/or management positions who don’t fit the stereotype of the “crazy boss lady”, but when a woman does fit that bill, let’s just say it makes a person want to cower under their desk for fear of that woman’s wrath.
Some might blame PMS, the moon and the tides, a bad hair day, or some other phenomenon for what can only be called “bat-shit behavior” – there’s no other term that could adequately express some of the experiences friends have mentioned to me – but there is absolutely no excuse for actions – whether directed at women or men – that demean another person, or that cause highly intelligent, kind and functioning people to question their own self-worth or capacity to do their jobs.
I’d like to think that there are many more good female bosses than bad – those who want to set a positive example and serve as a protégé to others. In fact I know many who fit the bill. The problem is that the bad female bosses stand out and perhaps more than their equally bad male colleagues. And frankly, I don’t get it. There are already so many hurdles to climb as a woman in the workplace, so why add crazy, rude, or mean on top of the pile? We spend so much time at work – many of our living hours are spent with workmates, rather than life mates, children, or friends – that when that workplace feels destructive or soul-crushing, it has a huge impact, intellectually, emotionally and physically. Whatever the reasons for the behaviour – be it jealousy, poor manners, impatience, or simply hatred for others –it’s a poor excuse.
So, to those female bosses who seemed determined to make the lives of other women in the workplace hell, I say this: wouldn’t you rather be the person your staff aspires to be, rather than the one they loathe?