Can Women be Strong Leaders Without Being Labeled “Bossy”?

Research by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Larissa Tiedens suggests that women can exert control by engaging in more subtle or “implicit” methods of dominance.

A shift in facial expression, an expansive posture, or a different negotiating strategy can be just as effective as a direct command, a wagging finger, or other aggressive behavior, she says. When women use these methods, the backlash is weakened or even disappears, according to the research by Tiedens and Melissa Williams of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

Based on a review of hundreds of earlier studies, their work suggests a winning strategy for women in business: “While the obstacles to women’s achievement in leadership roles are real, there also is reason to hope that women may be able to work around them by relying more heavily on implicit methods of interpersonal influence,” write the researchers.

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How can women be strong leaders at work without being labeled as “bossy” or viewed as less likeable than their male peers?

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