Women business leaders can be targets for staff, rivals or even online trolls. Some believe this treatment is unfair, particularly when it is thinly veiled gender bias. Conversely, others argue that women in high profile positions must be able to take the same heat as their male counterparts. The circumstances of each attack, complaint or dismissal are different, but many women feel like they have targets drawn on their backs.

Recent high-profile examples include the dismissal of Recording Academy CEO Deborah Duggan (who faces accusations of creating a toxic work environment) and Best Buy CEO Corrie Barry (an anonymous letter accused her of having an extramarital affair with a coworker – she was cleared). Still, it begs the question that these accusations would gain as much attention if they had been men.

Advice from those who have been there

Powerful women executives are often stereotyped as unpleasant, over-ambitious or un-lady-like. This should not mean that women should stop striving to lead businesses in the 21st century. With this in mind, we have collected tips from women executives on how to manage the stress and take their career and business to the next level:

  • Do not say “I think”: Kate Lewis of Hearst Publishing enjoys collaboration and discussion, but she stopped opening her sentences with this phrase so it would not undercut her ideas in front of others.
  • Do not take the first offer: Many do not like to negotiate, but Samantha Dong of ALLY shoes realized that it was less about winning or outsmarting others and more about finding fair and creative solutions.
  • Stay off social media: Pure Barre’s Sarah Luna found that she was taking criticism from online trolls personally, which distracted her and impacted her ability to do her job.
  • No more micromanaging: Blo Blow Dry Bar’s Vanessa Yakobson realized she needed to let her accomplished staff do what they excel at so she can focus on what needs her direct involvement.
  • Embrace me time: Beauty Kitchen’s Heather Marianna finds she is more focused, centered, happier, and productive once she got rid of the guilt of scheduling me time.

Finding the right solution

Ideally, these tips will be useful to those women executives looking to find the right combination. Unfortunately, pushback or criticism for their work or vision for the company may be unfair or even a violation of their civil rights. Those with questions often find it useful to consult with attorneys working in employment law and business law. These legal professionals can provide legal insight and protect the rights of their clients.