I'll skip to the chase. If any female politician acted like Donald Trump, she would be called a bitch. Yeah, I said it.
Picture a woman, standing at a podium and calling her opponents "losers" and "has beens." She could gesture broadly, maybe even occasionally pounding her fist. She would slander people or groups that she believes pose a danger. She could be very assertive about her pithy policies, but short on details, just trust her until she gets elected. But she wouldn't get elected. Bitches don't get elected, they stall out in in politics.
As it turns out, in business bitches don't fare very well, either. They are given feedback about their interpersonal style, such as being told they "come on too strong." Of course. They have strong personalities and know what they want. Because they know what they want, they make decisions much more rapidly than other managers or peers. Sometimes, their frustration and impatience shows up in negative ways. In the case of a female, she would be labeled the b-word. In the case of a male, he would be characterized as a tough leader.
In both instances, that of a male and that of a female leader who has a strong personality, there is an opportunity for moderation. Their maverick style can be moderated and channeled into more effective leadership styles. It is possible to be strong and, yet, be approachable. It is possible to have strong opinions, yet leave space and room for others to show up and share their views. A maverick leader can also become a talented facilitator, turning disputes into discussions about values and factors relevant to any decision. This is team building at its best.
Mavericks don't need to stop being mavericks. Their drive and talent is very valuable to their constituencies. They just need to moderate their wattage so that true vision can emerge. If they capitalize on their strengths, they can leverage those strengths to fortify weaker areas. If Donald Trump wanted to, he could become a fantastic, moderated maverick. If he would drop the ad hominem and deploy his considerable abilities to articulate his policies and positions, he could be the arbiter of a true national dialogue on what needs to happen to make our country greater. Now that would be leadership.
In the case of a female manager or politician who is being called the b-word, why not substitute the label maverick, get rid of the age old put down that constitutes the b-word and call it for what it is. We do need strong people in the workplace and in politics. What we don't need is supposed leaders who engage in put downs, diminishment or name calling.
L. Kay Wilson is an executive coach and founder of the Maverick Leadership Institute. She innovated a coaching protocol called Charm School for Mavericks. Her practice is national and she splits her time between the DC metro area and Connecticut. She may be reached at email@example.com .
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