Smash Stereotypes About Girlbosses

Women bosses often get an unfairly bad rap, but we don’t have to live with it. Two of them, who lead male-dominated teams, tell you how.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Women bosses often get an unfairly bad rap, but we don’t have to live with it. Two of them, who lead male-dominated teams, tell you how.
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Oh, please – I’ve had my fair share of indecisive and micromanaging male bosses. Trust me, it’s not a gender thing.



Smash it: As a leader, you’re ultimately responsible for the decisions made, says Tribal Worldwide Singapore’s managing partner and head of operations Leslie Goh. Don’t waver, as it sends the wrong message to your team. “When there is consistency, the team can spend more time polishing up the work or coming up with initiatives and being more productive,” says Leslie.

Also, once you’ve made a decision, be transparent about how you got there. “I keep all my team members engaged right from the planning stages,” says Gauri Bajaj, director of cybersecurity (APAC) at Tata Communications. “This way, they understand their contribution to the company’s strategy.” The point is – don’t leave room for your team to guess at what you’re thinking.



Smash it: As a boss, you have the power to build an empowering environment for your team. So use it. Create a genderneutral work culture and shut down stereotypes immediately, says Leslie. When a male colleague commented that the company should hire more women project managers – as the role requires an eye for detail – Leslie wasn’t having any of it. “I shared with him success stories of male project managers on my team, and highlighted their strengths and weaknesses,” she says, adding that she doesn’t allow men in her team to imply that they’re better at tech jobs than the women.



Smash it: “Btchy”, “unsympathetic”, “too emotional”… whatever. Sometimes, girlbosses just can’t win. But no matter what judgment people choose to pass, Leslie believes that bosses have to be consistent in showing care for their team’s wellbeing. If she notices that someone is overworked and has clocked long hours, she proactively suggests they take time off to rest.

Leslie also makes the effort to ask about her team’s personal lives when she runs into them in the pantry, or during lunch – it’s her way of understanding their career and personal goals. “This way, they’re more likely to be open to coming to you for help when they need to,” Leslie adds.



Smash it: After returning from maternity leave, Leslie had to launch a major project within a short time frame. That meant long hours in the lead-up to the launch. Tough for a new mum, but she wanted to show her team that their leader would be in the trenches with them. To get by, Leslie roped her husband and parents in to look after the baby.

Now, she gets home in time to read her two kids a story before bed. Once that’s sorted, she logs on to her work e-mail and picks up where she left off.



Smash it: It’s hard to work effectively if a boss is constantly breathing down your neck. #truth. Gauri knows it, so she finds ways to keep her team invested. “I prefer to give a fair amount of authority to the team by letting them participate in decision making processes.”

Lose the dictator like attitude and have some trust, agrees Leslie. If team members disagree, she doesn’t shut them down. Rather, she takes it outside and makes time to help them understand her point of view.
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LESLIE GOH, managing partner and head of operations, Tribal Worldwide Singapore.
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GAURI BAJAJ, director of cybersecurity (APAC), Tata Communications.

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Got a relationship problem? Jason Godfrey, our man about town, is here to help.

My husband and I haven’t had sex since our first kid was born a year ago. I’m a working mum, and caring for a toddler takes up all my energy, so sex isn’t really top on my list of priorities. I don’t want us to lose the spark. Can we have a loving, if sexless, marriage?

Sex – you really only need a few minutes to get it done. It might feel like a chore now, but sex is really important for maintaining the spark. So make time to release the beast! Jump-start those engines with a staycay at a nice hotel to get you guys back to your porn-star best, then settle into nice, boring sex on a weekly basis.

I love my boyfriend, but we argue all the time. Sometimes it’s about silly stuff , but at other times, older issues get rehashed over and over again. How do I get us to stop fighting?

A relationship is like a war that only has ceasefires, but never actually ends. The key is to keep the fights low-key without hurting each other. If you’re fighting about silly stuff , then the answer is easy – know when to let it go. Take yourself out of the fight and let him have it. As for rehashing older issues, that’s something that only leads to hurt feelings. Set a new rule: You can argue, but bringing up the past is null and void. Keep the discussion in the present, or the fights of the past will ruin the future.

I get along really well with guys, and I have lots of male friends. But the thing is, I can’t seem to get a date out of any of them. How do I break out of the friend zone?

Ever tried the tequila and drunken sex combo? Just kidding. Don’t do it unless you want to ruin the chance of a relationship as well as the friendship. If you hang in there long enough, one of the guys is eventually going to ask you out. If you don’t feel like waiting, get on Tinder. In the meantime, put those guy friends to good use – get them to tell you the best ways to get a dude’s attention.

I just started seeing this guy, and he said he wanted to take things slow. A few dates later, I made a move on him and kissed him. After that, he seemed distant, his texts got fewer, and he’s less enthusiastic about meeting up. How do I get things back on track?

You should always be the chill girl. Always. Don’t move in on him like a SWAT team taking down a vice den. Playing it cool, even when you’re sweating, is a triedandtrue dating move – for good reason. Play your cards right, and you could turn the tables and have him going after you instead.
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Want to keep the peace? Know when to back off.

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