Situation 16: RESPECT

Femsy finds it uncomfortable to deal with Billy, the most experienced and best performing Regional Sales Supervisor within her team.

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A great leader: 

  • Is authentic, self-confident and self-aware;
  • Is credible, respected and trusted by bosses, peers and subordinates;
  • Ensures that her goals are met, focuses on the right things and sets priorities;
  • Maximizes the contribution of all team members by setting expectations, confronting issues and holding people accountable;
  • Believes in open communication and combines directness with empathy;
  • Listens for what is felt as well as said.

How to best handle the situation:

As a new leader you might have to deal with direct reports who question your competence or ability to lead while at the same time you are struggling with your own self-doubt. In order to be successful in your job, it is crucial that you gain the respect and trust of your team members. Below a couple of suggestions how to confidently navigate the situation:

  • Interview your direct reports to learn more about them: what are their daily routines, their challenges, what should happen to make things better, etc.;
  • Be both kind and direct in your communication: set expectations, confront issues and hold people accountable;
  • Show respect for your team members: acknowledge their contributions, express concern for their wellbeing and support them in their efforts to do a good job;
  • Believe in yourself: display confidence in your decision making capability while at the same time taking in the knowledge and input from your team members;
  • Communicate frequently and honestly.

Learning Suggestions:

  • Read biographies of successful women, such as:
    • “The Ten Laws of Enduring Success” by Maria Bartiromo;
    • “Marissa Mayer And The Fight To Save YAHOO” by Nicholas Carlson;
    • “Leading Women” by Nancy D. O’Reilly;
    • “Talking Leadership” by Mary Hartman.
  • Don’t be afraid to meet resistance. It is part of the game. If you encounter resistance, ask questions to clarify. From there, you can often move into negotiating a win-win outcome;
  • Resist the tendency to become defensive when given feedback. Instead, ask questions to understand it, thank the person for taking the time to give the feedback to you. If the feedback has some validity, do something with it. If not, let it go;
  • Think of yourself like a brand in the way you behave and the way you present yourself. The ability to let others know who you are, what you have to offer and how you can make a difference in their organization is one of the keys to success.
  • Establish a mentor relationship with a senior leader or enter into a Femleadership Expert Power (LEP) Partnership. Hold regular meetings with him/her to discuss specific issues as they arise and debate alternative courses of action to continuously improve your leadership presence;
  • Learn to communicate persuasively, develop an assertive style backed with solid facts and examples, adjust your messages for different audiences. Take an assertive communications skills course to further build your self-confidence;


We all want to work for a great boss. Someone you can respect and learn from. How do you relate to your boss?

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.


Read more about Co-Colours and Co-Colours Team.


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