Imagine a woman who is no nonsense, aggressive, bright, extremely capable, hard-working, very focused, and willing to take charge who is the top performer in her organization. Sounds like a future CEO, doesn't she? Jean Hollands predicts that this is a woman who will rise near the top of her organization, but will then hit the glass ceiling so hard she may be shattered. Such women are usually referred for coaching (if they haven't already been fired) to make them less like bullies. "No one likes a bully. Even so, in today's business climate, many men can get away with it. Women almost never can."
Ms. Hollands reports that she knows the type well. "I'm from a long line of Bully Broads." Although that term may sound pejorative, Ms. Hollands reports that everyone knows what it means and it avoids using other "B" words that are more pejorative.
While the men that she coaches are sent for a variety of weaknesses, 95 percent of the women are there to get rid of Bully Broad characteristics.
There are a number of different types of Bully Broads, including Sounding-Off Tyrants (who verbally blow up a lot), Sarcastic Aggressives (who use words to cut others down to the floor), Selectively Quiet but with High Expectations (perfectionists who let their disapproval of others' performance show), and Silent, But Judging (Ms. Understood, and whose reserve and mental point-scoring is seen as disdain or worse). The book has a quiz to help identify if you have any of these problems. Bully Broads seem to be immune to realizing they have a problem until it is too late because they don't measure themselves very much by what others think of them. Basically, these are people with low emotional intelligence, the attribute that most equates to success in typical business situations.
The heart of the book can be found in the cases (usually two per rule) that show how a variety of women in many different kinds of jobs and organizations walked the plank without realizing they had a problem. Each rule then goes on to suggest ways to change (even if you only have the problem slightly), how to deal with a colleague or boss who has these characteristics, and specific suggestions for how to communicate better. Many of the 25 rules will seem obvious, but apparently they aren't to some successful women, such as "Don't Tick Off the President, the CEO, or the Human Resources Person."
I won't list all of the rules (space doesn't permit, and that wouldn't be fair to the author), but let me give you a few examples to help provide a flavor for the book:
"`Listen Up' Until You Are About to Throw Up"
"People Will Sabotage You If They Can't Confront You"
"Beware of Jealousy"
"Don't Burn Bridges -- Ever"
"Soft Sell Is the Best Sell"
"Remember: It's Not Your Money"
"Avoid All or Nothing Thinking"
"You Are Not Joan of Arc."
The messages are strong, because many women who need them apparently are in denial. For example, I was fascinated by one story about a woman who was fired and didn't emotionally realize it until about two years later since she continued to work out of her old office as a "consultant" to the company, and kept up her old ways.
The irony of many of these stories is that the woman involved often has a CEO or boss who sets a bad example as a bully or polishes his image by letting the Bully Broad do the dirty work of carving people up for his benefit (the old "good cop, bad cop" routine).
The main weakness of the book is that it's aimed at helping a small percentage of women improve their career prospects. The bulk of the potential readers will be victims of Bully Broads who need protection. If you are either a Bully Broad or a Bully Broad victim, this book can really help.
On the other hand, I hope that many human resources people will read this book as well so that their company can help head off bullying situations, whether they are caused by women or (more frequently) by men.
How many things can be accomplished faster and better by having more than one person cooperate with one another? Almost everything. Find ways to make that cooperation smoother, more pleasant, and more effective for all involved!