Woman, you’re too Bossy, Tone down!

Priya stormed out of the meeting room in a fit of rage. Enough is Enough! She thought.

The Problem:

She needed to complete a sizeable crucial project in a week, and the engineering manager showed no urgency towards completing the tasks on time. Two weeks back, she had an open discussion with him regarding his team’s speed of work and her worry around missed timelines.

“Arun, I feel the team is progressing very slowly. If this is the pace we are working on, I am afraid we may not be able to complete the project on time.” – Priya said.

“Don’t worry, Priya. I know what my team is doing. They will complete the project on time.” – Arun refuted Priya’s worries casually.

“How do you plan to complete so much in so little time? Do you have a plan that you would like to share with me?” – Priya asked for the details.

“Don’t worry about details, my team will deliver on time.” – Arun insisted.

But Priya couldn’t trust him; she was aware of his past performances. Arun had a reputation for committing and then repeatedly failing to keep up the commitments. She decided to keep a close watch on the progress herself.

As the Head of Product, the organisation, it wasn’t her job, but she chose to follow up daily. When she would ask for a status update from Arun, there won’t be any significant progress from the previous day. This situation went on for a few days.

The Confrontation:

She decided to confront Arun on this; “Arun, what’s going on? I see no progress in the last five days. Can you please explain what’s going on? Is there any challenge you are facing?”

“Nothing of that sort. Everything is under control.” – Arun replied.

“I would like to see the progress myself; can you please show me the working version of it?” – Priya insisted.

Reluctantly Arun showed her what the team had completed till then. She was shocked!

Leave alone completion; the project was not even 20% complete.

When Priya sought an explanation, Arun burst out in anger. “How can we perform with you hovering around our head all the time? Leave us alone; we will give you the project on time.” Putting the entire blame of the delay on her head.

Priya lost her patience this time. She yelled back saying, “I don’t see any reason to trust you with this! You have been saying the work will be done for more than ten days now, but Nothing has progressed. I think I deserve an explanation on this.”

One thing spiralled into another, and there was a big scene in the office.

The Intervention that wasn’t needed:

The next thing Priya knew Arun went and complained to the HR against her. The HR summoned her for an emergency meeting.

“Priya, this is not expected out of you. Why did you have to scream at Arun?” – The HR reprimanded her.

When Priya explained her side of the story, the HR seemed uninterested. She was more interested in her behaviour and not the project getting delayed.

The entire conversation was around how she should have persuaded him politely, how being a lady she shouldn’t have been so aggressive, why Arun found her as bossy, what she could’ve done instead of being so arrogant, blah blah blah!

Priya was appalled to see the HR responding to this entire situation in this manner, she thought, is this for real?

She aborted the meeting halfway and stormed out of the room, frustrated, defeated, and disappointed.

Lesson from This:

Sometimes organisations focus on the wrong issue. Instead of fixing women leaders’ behaviour, they must concentrate on the attitude of others who tend to take work casually.

There is an undercurrent of what is the right behaviour for a woman in the workplace. It needs to change.


Organisations must focus on imbibing equal seriousness towards work, mutual respect (not because they are a different gender) and honouring the timelines irrespective of their leader’s gender into their employees.

Have you been through any similar situations like this or any other where you were termed, bossy, arrogant, aggressive, not women like as a leader? 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 seventh 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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