As we saw over the last two weeks, two major business powerhouses were let go from their positions. First Yahoo’s Carol Bartz was unceremoniously fired over the phone, then Sallie Krawcheck was pretty much pushed out of her position at Bank of America.
Although both of these businesswomen were successful and assets to their companies, their being “let go,” is proof that no matter how safe you think you are, everyone is dispensable. In light of these two women being dropped, perhaps it’s time for Michele Bachmann to learn a few lessons from these women who have been there, done that and are now on the other side. Being president of the United States is pretty much being CEO of the most powerful company in the world. If Bachmann wants to succeed and not suffer a similar downfall, she needs to step it up.
First of all, gender matters. We can pretend that it doesn’t, we can get on our feminist high-horses and declare foul, but when it comes down to it, whether you’re a man or woman in the business world, it makes all the difference. While all male candidates for president are simply called “candidates,” female candidates are referred to as just that: “female candidates.” Their gender is so ingrained in what they are, it almost outweighs what they’re trying to do.
Women represent only 3% of top management in Fortune 500 companies, so their demise is being heralded as proof that high-powered women are treated differently than their male counterparts. As a professional woman friend quipped, throughout her career she’s often been the only woman in the room. By definition, everybody noticed her and came quickly to judgment if she had an off day.
When the public labels you “feisty,” it’s just a euphemism for “bitch.” Bachmann may think her “feisty” behavior is playing in her favor, but if we look at Bartz, for example, who when she was fired, declared her former management a “bunch of doofuses,” she’s the one who looked like the sore loser in the equation. Although Bartz had every right to lash out considering how the situation was handled, the public wants someone who’s calm, cool and collected. Bachmann needs to step back and take a look at how she’s coming off these upcoming months.
While both Krawcheck and Bartz stepped into their positions with proven success rates under their belts, they seemed to lack long term plans. It’s fine for Bachmann to spout off what’s she “plans” to do, but if she gets into that presidential seat, she better follow through. You may be able to prove your worth to get to where you want to be, but if you can’t show staying power and direction, you’re setting up your own demise.
Next, it’s hard to be the new kid on the block. Everyone has settled into their cliques and a lot of the time no one cares for the “outsider.” Their ideas may be original and “fresh,” but they’re still foreign. Sarah Palin declared herself a “maverick,” and now Bachmann is championing the fact that she’s an “outsider” who’s “intending to ride a wave of ‘throw the bums out’ popular sentiment all the way to the White House.” However, she needs those so called “bums” on her side to get things done. If she wants to fit in, she better learn to play nice.
Lastly, in order to succeed, you should “listen to your mentors,” and those around you who support you. Bachmann is known to speak “off the cuff,” and not always listen to those on her staff.
If Michele Bachmann is smart, her team should include one or two thoughtful naysayers who’ll let her know when she goes too far. Then, she’d be smart to listen to their advice.
If Bachmann wants to succeed in her quest to be president, she may want to look at how she’s handling her campaign. There have been many women who have reached top spots, and many women who have lost those positions because their strategy wasn’t up to par. With the falling of Bartz and Krawcheck there are lessons in there to be learned. Bachmann needs to look around and realize that these women have something to teach her.