Thursday, May 15, 2014

Women Executives

I read the story of the sudden firing of the executive editor of the New York Times, their first women senior executive, and the fallout about it with emphasis on the fact of being the first women in the job. I find the reason to defend her because of her sex interesting.

First it is interesting because some people assume women bosses are better than men in some respects toward employees, their work and the company. Those generalities are not supported by the reality that many of the skills necessary for senior level jobs are independent of one's sex.

I can say this because I spent the last 5 years of my career working for a women executive, who wasn't  very good at the job, as we learned she was promoted from the office in another state to, in effect, "offer her the job to get her out of there."

She turned out to be more of the same. She was abrasive, agressive, argumentative, down the list of characteristics of what you would describe the worst male boss. She surrounded herself with people who only agreed with her, and didn't see they used her for their own promotions.

She never saw that her senior staff, whom she was loyal to a fault, especially in the face of their obvious faults and failures, would lie to her and agreed with her to win her approval and get promotions. The reality truth was lost on her because she didn't want to see or hear it.

We learned three fundamental facts about her management style. First, the word no didn't exist in her vocabulary, even when her bosses told her she couldn't do something, she would do it anyway. We had a useless, wasteful employee conference at Fort Worden in Port Townsend when her bosses' told her no.

Second, you didn't disagree with her on any point. She was always right. It didn't matter the subject, the decison or the events, she always knew and you didn't question it let alone argue against it, and if you did, you got a lecture.

Third, don't be tell her bad news for she always blamed the messenger for the news than dealt with the news. I learned this the hard way and spent the last 2 years in the proverbial dog house before winnning a complaint against my boss and her and then retirinig.

I won't argue there are excellent male and female bosses, I've worked for many during my career and never had problems, just disagreements which were resolved without hurting my career. I was always known for being outspoken on issues, often about or against management, but she was the only one who took that out on me than the subject.

So my point, don't assume women bosses are better and better deserving of treatment as executives. They should be judge on the merit of their work and results, and not jump to conclusions that a women is fired because of her sex.

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