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We Need to Re-evaluate the Workplace ‘Mean Girl’

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By Liz Bentley

I have received several requests to coach female executives, sometimes CEOs, who are described as “mean.” These “mean girls” are usually extremely competent and deliver results. And they are often positively described as funny, caring (in certain situations), smart, driven and good at office politics. However, their “mean girl” tendencies of being impatient and having tempers get them in trouble and, in some cases, sidelines their career progress.

Additionally, their peers and subordinates analyze their personal lives in unflattering ways – unfairly putting them under a microscope to uncover why they are so mean and angry. I’ve heard everything including, they’re “single and have nothing else to do,” they’re “married with kids and so they’re overburdened and stressed.” Or, they bring up money. For example, ‘they have to work’ or ‘they are rich and don’t have to work so why are they doing this?’

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