Women, Words, and Leadership

Words are used to convey meaning. This morning my wife was taking an online class, and she ran across a word that I found very interesting. Borborygmus is a d medical term that refers to the rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines. This is not flatulence which is the noise when this gas moves down the tubes and out the end. We have been using borborygmus in fun. sentences are morning. It has been fun.

Another word that I thought was interesting this morning was bossy. Condoleezza Rice, Anna Marie Chavez, and Sheryl Sandberg have joined forces to ban the word bossy when it comes to women in leadership. In the past little girls were told, according to Sandberg, that they weren’t supposed to be bossy. It appears they are responding to a Girl Scouts study of 8 to 17 year-olds that found “one-third of them didn’t want to be leaders for fear of being disliked by their peers.”

In my past career, other words where used for strong female leaders in our company, used very strong words that were never expressed to their faces, but gave an indication that the rules were different for women when it came to advancing within the company.

Although some things have changed for women in the workplace, such as having to deal with sexual harassment, others haven’t. Women within the lower level of management is equally distributed, but when we get into the upper levels of management then we begin to see he WOM’s holding on. If you don’t know what a WOM is, it is White Old Men. I heard this term from a women many years ago, and thought it was hilarious, especially since I am one.

I like what Rice, Chavez, and Sandberg are doing because we need good leaders within the workplace. Research shows that 60% of employees feel their organizations are not well led; this after billions of dollars are spent on leadership training. Efficiency and effectiveness is being lost due to the use of Dilbert leadership styles. Therefore anything we can do to make more and better leaders that better off our organizations will be.

I am not saying that all women make good leaders. I have reported to four women in my career. The first was as a sixteen year old. She wasn’t so bad, I just didn’t like cleaning apartments. It was a horrible job. The second woman was and is still a bad leader. The third was the best boss of my forty year career. I reported to her for three years and thrived under her leadership, just like everyone else in our organization. I am now reporting to the fourth. She is a visionary, and knows where she wants to take our organization. Is she as good as my last boss? I am still analyzing data, but I am hopeful.

One final thought about leadership. There was a political cartoon in this morning’s newspaper. President Obama telephones Russia to talk to Putin. An aid to Putin answers the phone and says that Putin cannot come to the phone because he is ironing his old curtains. Seems like an anti-gender stereotype. Even Putin can perform what historically has been considered women’s work. But that is not what the cartoon is obviously referring too. More will be written on the blind ambition of Vladimir Putin.

Ladies, more power to you. Maybe you can keep the nuclear bombs from being sent around this planet.

And that is my thought for the day!




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