9 Tips for Being a Powerhouse Girlboss 

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You’ve busted through the glass ceiling of this so-called man’s world, and now you are the woman in charge.  A true girlboss!  So, how do you ensure that you are a fair and balanced leader, a well-respected force to be reckoned with and a rock star at your job? Being a great boss is really hard. No one gets it perfectly right. The best girlbosses are both self aware and constant learners. They are curious and ask tough questions, as well as give clear direction. They are powerhouse communicators.

Over my corporate career, I developed a series of guiding principles by learning from some fantastic leaders at great companies to help me become a confident and successful woman leader. When it comes to bosses, I’ve seen it all—the good and the bad. Whether you’re managing a small staff of sales people at your very own shop or you’re a newly appointed CEO in charge of a team that will look to you for guidance each and every work day, you need a solid plan. If you are a girlboss or want to be one, consider my nine tips for success:

Learn from the good and the bad.

All of us have seen great leaders in our careers and admired them.  We have also experienced terrible leaders.  What made the great leaders great and the terrible leaders so bad?  Emulate the best boss behaviors that encouraged or inspired you in your career; and use the worst boss behaviors, the ones that made you lose trust for your leaders or left you feeling frustrated in your work place, as examples of what not to do— ever.

Make it easy for your team to tell you bad news.

It’s an age-old problem—no one wants to be the bearer of bad news.  The sooner the news is revealed, the sooner you can mobilize the team on solutions.  Great bosses share troubling news up the chain of command as early as possible—they don’t leave it until the smoke develops into a fireball. In my new book, Love Reconsidered, the character Trish is a strong girl boss. She begins her new role as leader by creating a welcoming, trusting professional environment for her employees to communicate with her. They feel confident in being able to share difficult news with Trish. As the boss, you must invite conversation and not be afraid to ask probing questions to seek out issues before they develop into full fledged crises.

Be fair, but decisive on personnel issues.

Everybody makes mistakes and deserves a second chance, but when an employee continually struggles at routine tasks and assignments and has received counseling and additional training, you must act.  Those who work with a struggling team member most likely are picking up the slack and resent it. Sometimes you need to make the needs of the whole team a priority over a single employee, when faced with a staff member who can’t perform. If you let personnel issues drag on, you aren’t leading. Work to resolve what you can, offer help, but if all efforts fail, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your team.

Recognize how to bring the best out of your diverse team.

Organizations are diverse, but often have distinct cultures.  Perhaps you have a “loud” culture, but you have a quiet team member who is brilliant and needs to be nudged to contribute. In many cases, leaders naturally gravitate to team members who are like them or have a similar work ethic.  Spend as much time with those who aren’t like you, and you might be surprised at what you can learn from them! You will set a positive example for the entire team. Seek to embrace all in your diverse team, demonstrating that all types of workers can succeed under your leadership.

Personify the mission and values of your organization.

Too often, the mission and values of an organization can get lost with negative behavior and crushing bureaucracy.  Paying lip service to values or faking it is apparent to all. Even when others don’t, stay true to the core mission and values to be a role model for your organization.

Acknowledge mistakes and move forward.

No leader is perfect.  Maybe you had a bad day, made a mistake or sent a damaging email when frustrated by the behavior of others. (Always remember the rule to move away from the keyboard when angry or upset). You are the boss, and your behavior is under a microscope, examined and dissected by everyone in your department and those outside.  Apologize if necessary, but put the episode in the rear view mirror. Know when you are wrong, admit it and move on.

Do something to help your employees advance every day.

Staff get behind a leader who helps her team get ahead.  In Love Reconsidered, Trish   recognizes her employees’ hard work and talents and encourages them to advance themselves and learn new skills, even if temporary staff issues were created for her department. Put time into picking the right people and then develop, recognize and reward them appropriately, so they feel valued. Take real, personal action to hire, promote, develop and reward your team.

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Be available.

One-on-one meetings give you the opportunity to provide real-time feedback on individual performance and seek feedback on your performance as well. Your staff will appreciate that you’re making time to talk about their projects with them individually. Just be sure to be punctual and to mute your phone so you can show your respect for your staffer’s time. If they feel respected, they will perform at their best. Create opportunities for your team members to have meaningful exchanges with you.

Give credit.

The less you use “I” the better!  Make sure that your team’s achievements are recognized up the chain. Always give credit to the key contributors, and never take credit for their work. Be sure to publicly celebrate key achievements. Enhance your own stature by giving credit and recognizing others.

All of these things are easier said than done, but, remember, you broke through the glass ceiling to get where you are today, so anything is possible.  Trust your instincts, be an intentional communicator, and stay true to these guidelines, increasing your chances of being recognized as a strong and well-respected girl boss.

This guest post was authored by Phyllis Piano.


Phyllis Piano spent more than 30 years working in Fortune 500 companies, serving as an officer in several.  She is a member of the International Advisory Committee of APCO Worldwide. Her first novel, Hostile Takeover: A Love Story, was published in October, 2016.  Her second novel, Love Reconsidered, will be published in August, 2017. 

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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