Polite Women Leaders are the Best, are they?

Kristel was excited about her interview in an organisation that wanted to hire her as the Senior Manager Legal. 

As a barrister and solicitor, she believed in fair practices. And this was her chance to make an impression on this organisation with her belief and work. 

The Opportunity:

She arrived at the venue 15 mins earlier than the interview time that was communicated by the team. 

“Hi! My name is Kristel, and I have an interview today at 9 am.” Would you please let HR know that I am here.” – She asked the receptionist. 

“Sure. Right away.” – The receptionist answered. 

After ten minutes of wait, the HR arrived at the reception. 

“Hey, Kristel, nice to meet you. May I request you to wait here, our CEO will be taking your interview. He will be here very soon.” – The HR informed Kristel. 

“No worries, I shall wait.” – Kristel assured. 

“Thanks a lot. I will be back in some time as soon as I hear from the CEO. Please make yourself comfortable.” – Saying this the HR left. 

The Long Wait:

Kristel pulled out the book she generally carried for such waits and started reading. She didn’t realise when 30 minutes had passed. When her concentration broke, she realised she had been waiting for 30 minutes. 

“Should I ask the receptionist, or should I wait?” – She thought to herself. 

She waited for another 15 minutes in this dilemma. Finally, she asked the receptionist. The receptionist reassured her and dialled for the HR department. 

“I have informed them, one of them will be here to attend you shortly.” – She replied after keeping the phone. 

Another 45 minutes gone by after the call. Now Kristel was beginning to get restless and agitated. 

Before she could lose her cool, the HR appeared again. 

“Kristel, my apologies to hold you up. Our CEO is yet to the office, hence the delay. He is on his way, will be here any moment.” – HR tried to manage the situation. 

Reluctantly, Kristel waited for some more time. Another 30 minutes had passed by, and the CEO was yet to arrive. 

Now it was getting highly annoying, Kristel had come for the interview thinking that within an hour she would be done, but she had been waiting for 2.5 hours already. 

She decided to inform HR and leave. The organisation that doesn’t respect others’ time cannot be a great employer either, she thought.

As she was preparing to leave, the HR informed that the CEO was here, and she could have her interview now. 

The Realisation:

Kristel reluctantly agreed, only to be disappointed a few mins later. 

Once she entered the CEO’s cabin, he casually asked, “I hope my staff made you comfortable.” 

To which Kristel responded, “No. Unfortunately, I had to wait for 2.5 hours. Which surely wasn’t comfortable.” 

This direct response didn’t go down well with the CEO. He started lecturing Kristel on why a woman should be meek and polite, no matter what the situation is. Why he felt her behaviour was inappropriate to respond to him like that. That’s why he liked working with polite women, and so on.

Kristel realised this was a big mistake. She can’t work in an organisation where the CEO schools’ women on the ‘right’ behaviour, while he was on the wrong foot himself. 

She cut him off in between and left from there hurriedly. “What a waste of my precious time,” she thought and sighed.  

Lesson from this:

Even today, some organisations believe that women need to hold soft positions; they need to behave politely and stay within their boundaries. While they want women in the team, but for the wrong reasons. 

Strong, opinionated, and frank women leaders still come across as inappropriate for many organisations. 


This is the real story of Kristel Whippy who went through this incident. This blog has been published with her consent.

Have you been through any similar situations like this or any other where you went with a different expectation, but ended up feeling disappointed due to a certain preconceived notion of others?

Share your story in the comment below or write to me at connect@srijatabhatnagar.com. I would love to feature your story in this series. 


This is the eighth story in the 100 ways to empower women leaders series. You can read the other stories here.

Do join the Setback Leaders’ Worldwide Tribe should you wish to stay in close touch with other Setback Leaders from across the world.

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