Do Your Employees Really Think Women are Bossy? [Infographic]

HR has their hands full trying to create and maintain a fair workplace for everyone, but battling preconceived notions among employees can be a huge challenge. While stereotypes seem harmless, they have a real impact in the workplace.

And if you’re a woman in HR, you know this all too well. At some point in your career, you’ve most likely been told that you’re too bossy.

The stereotype of the bossy female leader is alive and well, and it’s not just men who tend to think women are bossy. Women perpetuate this stereotype, as well.

Research from Skyline Group International, a company dedicated to providing scalable leadership development and coaching across an organization, has found that both male and female employees see women who lead with an assertive and directive style as bossy.  

For better or worse, employees prefer women in leadership who use more inclusive strategies. Seven behaviors in particular, as shown in the infographic below, turn employees off from female leaders.

Some highlights include:

  • Women are seen as less effective when they act like men in 57% of leadership skills.
  • Employees are turned off by women who command respect, compared with those who present themselves with poise and authenticity.
  • Employees prefer women leaders who carefully plan out strategies, compared with those who take big risks.
  • Employees are turned off by women who are stoic, compared with those who express their emotions appropriately.

Check out the full infographic to see what employees really want from women in leadership — and all leaders. Focusing on learning and development that helps all managers, regardless of gender, be more balanced will create more effective leaders and happier employees.

What’s your take on the bossy woman in leadership? Do you think employees really view male and female leaders differently? Let us know in the comments!  


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.

Author: Heather Huhman

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, a content-marketing and digital-PR consultancy for job-search and human-resources technologies. She is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.

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