Essential Reading for Career Women


Books for Women Executives in Business.


Sifting thru some one dozen books on this topic area, I found three that can be immensely profitable to all women business executives. Read below why you would like them..



In the Company of Women

Turning Workplace Conflict into Powerful Alliances,

by Pat Heim and Susan Murphy, Putnam, 2001.


You are a woman executive.  If your relationships with other women in your company and in your professional life are harmonious, skip the first part (chapters 1-7, actually).  Read it, and you might begin to see things—and women-- that aren’t there – like the Kitchen Sink Fighter, The Destructive Gossiper, The Cabal Queen, and, of course, the Superbitch.


The second part (especially, Chapters 8-11) is where the treasure lies.  In contrast to storybook style narratives in Part I, Part II turns analytical and prescriptive—a guide to cultivating and managing professional relationships that is both intellectually engaging and immensely practical.  Useful if your work life is hell; doubly useful if it isn’t.  Yes, it will help you turn already healthy professional relationships even healthier—no matter at what rung of the executive ladder you are.


Five styles of conflict handling are identified: Competing, Collaborating, Avoiding, Accommodating, and Compromising. Guess, which one is the best?  Wrong question!  Each is useful, depending on the circumstance.  This “contingency theory” approach— making medication contingent upon symptoms—is what makes the book deserve all the respect it has and should receive as a high-level counseling book. Read it and you will turn a new page in your professional life as a business executive.


One more thing—you have to be a woman only if you want to read Part I as well.  As to Part II, I hope male executives read it too.


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Same Game, Different Rules

How to Get Ahead Without Being a Bully Broad, Ice Queen, or Ms. Understood, by Jean Hollands, McGraw-Hill, 2002.


Dear Woman Executive: Rise to the top and stay there without becoming a B@#%!


This is the central message of the book.


Have you gotten to where you are by being authoritative, assertive, intimidating—by being a bully broad (BB), that is?  If yes, these qualities can now become your biggest liability —today’s corporate world demands a leadership that is more relationships and teamwork oriented.


In this call to be a “gentler, egalitarian” leader, Jean Hollands lays out some 25 rules – guideposts to transform your personality as an executive.  Only a few are disputable—e.g., “Don’t cry like a man” (Rule #7); and “Perfectionism kills” (Rule #3).  A few others, you need to take with a grain of salt—e.g., “You are not Joan of Arc” (#25).  Some, we have known all along—e.g., “Create allies” (#3); “Don’t burn bridges, ever!” (#10) Many are novel—e.g., “85% of the rest of the world is conflict-avoidant” (#4); “People will sabotage you if they can’t confront you” (#5).  All deserve serious consideration.  Adopting them in your own leadership style can be immensely rewarding – people you lead will, instead of fearing and avoiding you, begin to seek you out.  The ‘B’ word, or the ‘BB’ word, in reference to you, would turn to a ‘CB’ word-- “Cool Boss”!  And it will change your personal life too.  On this last point, my favorite (from the authors guide rules): “Don’t judge… enjoy!” (Rule #22).


Again, the benefits of many of Holland’s rules are gender-neutral.


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An AOL Insider Cracks the Code to Outrageous Success for Women

Mary Foley, AMACOM, 2002.


Mid-week blues or weekend excitement—if you could have a business lunch or a happy hour drink with only one person and only once this whole year, that person should be Mary Foley.  If you are a career woman, no other book will do more to lift your spirits as a career woman than this one.  As an autobiographical account, it is enchanting.  As a self-help book, it is utterly practical. 


As a career woman, and if you have the wherewithal, this book can take you places.  It can teach you things you never thought of. It can make you the person you should be—overcome your hesitations; be clear in your mind what you want; be confident.  Doggedly pursue your career goals, and have fun on the way.  Just one note of caution: Don’t use the advice as ‘quick-fix’ – you need to build a careful plan (one of the books’ advice) and then launch a ten-year journey.  And one more caution: As you shed your pessimistic, learned- helplessness persona, don’t go overboard—don’t become a “bully broad!”  Aim instead to become bodacious.


Upbeat.  Successful.  Bodacious.  These words describe Mary Foley herself.  Embrace Foley as your role model, and they could describe you too—the future you!


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this review prepared by:  Ban Mittal, coauthor of ValueSpace