Book Review- See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work

With a focus on revealing and solving the different attitudes that are under what is called “Nice Girls Syndrome”, Lois P. Frankel developed this book, See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work, to discuss the “feminization of leadership“, i.e. how women can lead in the workplace without being called too bossy, aggressive or egotistical.

see jane leadWhy is that? Lois believes that “nice girls have a particularly difficult time assuming leadership roles and doing it effectively. When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which, as you know, is impossible), delay decision making by trying to get everyone’s buy-in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility”.

In my experience, the challenge is real and can be easily noticed in any workplace, yet, without discussing it openly, more and more businesswomen will continue to suffer. Accordingly, we will continue seeing few numbers of businesswomen in top-managerial roles.

This is the third book I read by this author. Unfortunately, the momentum and the positive energy in the previous two books were much higher than this book. Having said this, still, I believe that this book can be one of the many good resources that a lady can use to better understand the business environment.

Following the same approach of listing 101 unconscious mistakes that women make that sabotage their careers in her book ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office‘ and the 75 avoidable mistakes women make with money in her book ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich‘, this book summarizes 99 strategies that will help women to take charge and lead at the workplace.

The book starts with a quick assessment in order to help you to identify the areas that you need to focus on and hence, start reading the related chapter directly.

The book is filled with stories and quotes from different businesswomen to provide real examples; however, I found them too distracting and prevented me from focusing on the main ideas.

Nevertheless, it is a good book and worthy to read.

Maybe this quote is the best summary of the core message in the book:

This was Flory Bramnick; the senior vice president for West Coast sales and distribution in Sonny Pictures Television, talking about her leadership style:

“To be an effective leader, a woman must stop thinking about the fact that she’s a woman. I say that because leadership is about bringing people together, not about creating distinctions. It’s about others, not about you. As soon as you become self-conscious, you’re likely to go over a cliff. Similarly, you don’t graduate to leadership. You learn it every day. You learn it’s not about being the smartest person in the room or having the right answer; it’s about having a goal that’s so clear to you that you’re personally excited about that people want to engage with you. There is where your values, goals and actions have to be aligned. Once you get that, you can get down to the business of hearing other people, what their needs are and truly motivating them. Although you can lead by virtue of your position and get people to do what you want, you’ve got to be concerned with how they feel about the direction in which you’re taking them and whether it’s consistent with their needs, too. My job as a leader is to get commitment to the goal based on what I try to ensure is mutually shared values. Anything short of that is unacceptable”.

Final thoughts

Here is a list of my favorite quotes and takeaways:

  • “An emotional reaction that matches the severity of the failure is human. To dwell on those emotions or use them as an excuse for not moving forward is another story”.
  • “Keep taking calculated risks; if you stop taking risks because one didn’t work out, then you will be allowing that mistake to define you. We all know Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor- but he was also a failure at many things he tried. This didn’t stop him from continuing to take the risks needed to go to another success”.
  • Maintain perspective; most of us tend to remember our flops more than our success. That’s one reason why I have an “atta gal” file. It’s where I keep notes and other forms of acknowledgment from readers, clients and colleagues praising me for doing something particularly well. When my risks turn into failure, I pull out this file to remind myself that one failure does not a loser make”.
  • “Good leaders don’t aim for compliance,; they aim for commitment. Committed people will go the extra mile, support decisions made by leaders, and act in the best inserts of the organization even when no one is watching over them”.
  • “Successful coaching involves understanding the pressure and anxiety players are under. Getting inside players’ heads. They’re prisoners of their own minds”.
  • “As she was presented with new opportunities to lead, she realized that these were learning experiences to embrace, not to avoid”.
  • “Being able to assess your feelings at any given moment and use that knowledge to regulate your emotions is critical to securing the trust and confidence of your followers or those you want to influence”.
  • “Awareness of your own feelings is really the place to start being a better and more objective observer and synthesizer of the feelings of others”.
  • “When you need a relationship, it’s too late to build it”.
  • “Being adept at politics helps you to get your job done with the maximum cooperation and least muscle needed to be effective”.

 A summary of the 99 ways for women to take charge at work

The strategies that Lois illustrated in her book are divided into 8 buckets as the following:

Balancing the strategic with the tactical

Tip # 1: Understand the competitive playing field

Tip # 2: Articulate your vision

Tip # 3: Refine and gain support for your vision

Tip # 4: Communicate the vision

Tip # 5: Analyze situations before taking action

Tip # 6: Develop a clearly articulated strategy

Tip # 7: Create a strategic worksheet

Tip # 8: Identify measures to gauge progress and recognize success

Tip # 9: Anticipate risks and resistance and plan for them

Tip # 10: Develop your strategic thinking capabilities

Tip # 11: Resist perfectionism

Tip # 12: Be realistic but do take calculated risks

Tip # 13: Look for the relationships between things instead of focusing on one item at a time

Tip # 14: Subscribe to (and read) magazines in your field that address trends and best practices.

Tip # 15: Dare to be a tall poppy

Taking risks

Tip # 16: Assess your risk orientation

Tip # 17: Get in the risk game

Tip # 18: Qualify and quantify your gut instincts

Tip # 19: Align risks with organizational mission, goals and values

Tip # 20: Take calculated risks

Tip # 21: Build in wiggle room

Tip # 22: View taking no risks as a potential risk

Tip # 23: Choosing the hill you’re willing to die on

Tip # 24: Elicit input and support before taking risks, but don’t over-rely on polling or get stuck in analysis paralysis

Tip # 25: Distinguish between reversible and irreversible risk

Tip # 26: Plan to fail

Influencing with (without) authority

Tip # 27: Be clear on the front end what you want on the back end

Tip # 28: Be assertive

Tip # 29: Avoid the tendency to go from one extreme of the assertiveness continuum to the other

Tip # 30: Know your audience

Tip # 31: Look for points of agreement

Tip # 32: Get to the point

Tip # 33: Vary your influence style

Tip # 34: Combine declarative statements with inclusive taglines

Tip # 35: Act “as if”

Tip # 36: Be strategic about your influence communications

Tip # 37: Capitalize on your passion and values

Tip # 38: Volunteer to make formal and informal presentations

From cheerleader to coach

Tip # 39: Build a trusting relationship with each member of your team

Tip # 40: Practice the 7:1 rule- seven pieces of positive feedback for every piece of developmental feedback

Tip # 41: Clearly define and communicate your expectations

Tip # 42: Assess less-than-acceptable performance or behaviors in neutral terms

Tip # 43: Stretch your followers

Tip # 44: Differentiate coaching from discipline

Tip # 45: Prepare your coaching conversations

Tip # 46: Use interim performance review as an entrée to coaching

Tip # 47: Coach players who are mismatched for the job out of the organization or current position

Tip # 48: Hone your coaching skills

Tip # 49: Read The Set-Up- to- Fail Syndrome Book

Leading teams

Tip # 50: Talk about teamwork constantly

Tip # 51: Define team rules

Tip # 52: Prepare for team meetings

Tip # 53: Manage meetings effectively

Tip # 54: Conduct regular team climate surveys

Tip # 55: Define measures for team performance

Tip # 56: Indentify incentives and rewards for team success

Tip # 57: Create opportunities for team members to work collaboratively

Tip # 58: Hold brainstorming, town hall or all-hands meetings to encourage cross-functional dialogue

Tip # 59: Be an MBWA (Managing by Walking Around) leader

Tip # 60: Hone your group process skills

Emotional quotients

Tip # 61: Read the Emotional Intelligence Quick Book

Tip # 62: Solicit 360- degree feedback

Tip # 63: Approach leadership as a discipline to be learned

Tip # 64: Stop being a human doing and start being a human being

Tip # 65: Read It’s All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren’t Enough

Tip # 66: Lead with questions- particularly if you tend to be critical

Tip # 67: Exercise your empathy muscle

Tip # 68: Surrender to the moment

Tip # 69: Attend NTL (National Testing Laboratory) Interpersonal Skills for Leadership Success workshops

Tip # 70: Treat everyone with whom you come into contact with unconditional positive regard

Tip # 71: Always allow others to save face

Tip # 72: Collect more chips for your political account that you can possibly ever use


Tip # 73: Follow Mrs. Field’s recipe for success

Tip # 74: Think and act big

Tip # 75: Be a servant-leader

Tip # 76: Learn the language of money

Tip # 77: Expect and prepare for setbacks

Tip # 78: Keep an “atta gal” file

Tip # 79: Be a continual learner

Tip # 80: Network, network, network

Tip # 81: Choose a hospitable location

Tip # 82: Ask for help

Tip # 83: Consider affiliated entrepreneurship or franchises

Tip # 84: Explore bartering

Tip # 85: Check out SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)

Tip # 86: Read Leading at the Speed of growth: Journey from Entrepreneur to CEO

Raising our daughters to lead

Tip # 87: Validate who your daughter is, not who you want her to be

Tip # 88: Encourage participation in individual and team sport

Tip # 89: Foster independent thinking and decision making

Tip # 90: Consider an all-girl school

Tip # 91: Enroll your daughter in a self-defense class

Tip # 92: Teach your daughter about money

Tip # 93: Get involved with your daughter’s school

Tip # 94: Indentify extracurricular activities suited to your daughter’s personality

Tip # 95: Raise your sons to respect women

Tip # 96: Teach your daughter skills for recognizing and responding to inappropriate social messages

Tip # 97: Model the way

Tip # 98: Focus on your daughter’s emotional intelligence

Tip # 99: Expose your daughter to nontraditional activities and careers

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