20 July 2011

Beware the 'alpha female', she's less likely to succeed if she's ballsy in the boardroom

Having fought their way into the boardroom they are a match for any man.

But a study has shown that when women bosses try to 'act like a man' and copy aggressive management styles it actually has the opposite effect - with staff working under so-called 'alpha females' less likely to co-operate to get results.

Researchers at the University of London found that women in the boardroom who suppress their natural skills in dealing with people can become confrontational, and would fare better from drawing on typical feminine qualities of sensitivity and good communication.

Alpha female: A new study reveals that to get better results women, instead of striving to be like men in the workplace, should draw on their inherent qualities

Alpha female: A new study reveals that to get better results women, instead of striving to be like men in the workplace, should draw on their inherent qualities

The researchers studied the management styles of senior professionals within five NHS hospitals but say their findings could be applied to any profession.

Their results showed that some senior female managers had moved away from what was called 'healthy assertiveness' and were instead attempting to 'emulate aggressive male models'.

Findings: The study showed more aggressive women annoyed colleagues and achieved less

Findings: The study showed more aggressive women annoyed colleagues and achieved less

Professor Paula Nicolson, from the University of London, said: 'The best managers had more 'emotional intelligence'.

But women who were trying to behave like they thought men behaved were the ones who got it wrong.

'It’s almost like women feel they must 'act like a man' and overly develop traits often associated with power-hungry City traders.

'This is understandable, because previously leaders have been male.

'But women's leadership style ought to come into its own when dealing with people and displaying skills in communication, judgment, sensitivity and psychological insight – all traits needed to be a good leader.'


The most stressful time of the day for modern mothers is 5.55pm, say researchers

That is the point when they are usually rushing around trying to cook dinner in time to ferry the children to their after-school clubs.

Bathtime, at 7.15pm, was the second most stressful point in a mother’s day, with the children’s bedtime at 8.45pm coming third.

The school run, around 8.20am, was fourth.

The study of 2,000 mothers, commissioned by bathroom retailer Betterbathrooms.com, also found that more than half of mothers lose their temper at some point during the day.

A similar number confessed to serving up unhealthy food because they didn’t have the time to cook something from scratch.

13 July 2011

INTERVIEW - Sharing experiences of workplace bullying

Esperanza is kind enough to explain her experience with Bullying in the work place. Unfortunately this happens all over the world. We seem to always talk about the children and not often enough about the adults and especially women in the work place.

06 July 2011

Managing pressure at work: Dealing with workplace bullies

I have been working in the stress management field for over 20 years and it never ceases to amaze me that some of the issues I was dealing with then are still prevalent today.

In my role as an Expert Witness to the UK courts I am often required to give a professional opinion to the court as to whether an organisation had anti-bullying procedures in place, prior to an employee deciding to institute a compensation claim against them.

Too many times, employees would have made an official complaint to the HR department yet no action was ever taken. Was it that HR were just uncaring and unsupportive?

Not necessarily so. Too often it was because HR really didn't really know what action to take. A lack of agreed policies and procedures left them uncertain whether they should support the employee's claim about being bullied or just minimise the alleged behaviour by telling the complainant that there was little they could do.

A recent survey

I read last week that the UK January Employment Index based on a survey of 2,600 people showed that 25 per cent of the respondents have experienced workplace bullying with incidents ranging from colleagues taking credit for work that they didn't do to public humiliation at the hands of a colleague, and it made me wonder what more could be done to tackle this conduct that is so often responsible for employees taking extended periods of sick leave and, often ultimately deciding to leave the company.

It is easy for anyone to identify the most obvious cases of intimidation, the times when you see a manager screaming at an employee or humiliating them in front of their team. This is overt bullying behaviour but what about the bullying behaviour that goes on behind closed doors.

The psychological bullying that can now take place on social networking sites is a more dangerous style of bullying as it is a much more difficult phenomenon to detect.

Individuals can often be humiliated even by an anonymous posting on a website and social networking sites can facilitate remote intimidation that can cause serious psychological damage to the victim.

I have counselled many clients who would describe such intimidation as a ‘reign of terror'. They became reluctant to go to work but had little option unless they decided to leave or report sick.

Fighting the scourge

First and foremost, they need to check if the organisation has a formal anti-bullying policy and procedure code and if it does then they should use the procedures laid down to make a complaint. Where procedures are not laid down then they need to speak to someone in authority in the company.

Raising the issue with HR is the recommended way forward.

However, as we saw above, the HR department may not always know what action to take. But this is a risk that may have to be taken as there is strong evidence to show that bullying behaviour creates stress and ultimately health problems.

Company policies

Make sure that your organisation has robust policies and procedures in place to combat workplace bullying and that your HR professionals and line managers are fully trained to recognise and deal effectively with such issues.

An anti- bullying policy should state that the organisation will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour.

If people are in fear of going to work and watching the clock to get back to the safety of their home, then those people will be poor performers, poor sales people, poor producers and a bad advertisement for your firm.

That competitive disadvantage will be reflected in your company's image and your brand.

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Key points

  • Beware of bullying in the workplace and on social networks.
  • Intimidatory behaviour can cause psychological damage.
  • Unacceptable conduct results in competitive disadvantage.

Comments (1)

  1. Added 10:43 February 15, 2011

    Companies must have policies and procedures to deal with workplace bullying behaviour. It wont just go away. Our organisation is very clear about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. We have a workplace bullying policy in place and management have been trained to diffuse the issue themselves, if the need arises. It was only a one day training programme but they had this training at the same time as the policy was implemented and so understood its implications. We can now hold our head high as a company and say that we will not tolerate workplace bullying behaviour and I am proud to work here.

    Jacky Cullen, London, United Kingdom