Q. I'm a woman, and my new job involves supervising 15 male sales reps. I can't seem to find my management style—I've tried to be straightforward, I've tried a softer approach, but there's a definite chill. How can I lead them effectively without being called the office bitch? Didn't concern about being a "bitch" at work go the way of shoulder pads? Sounds like the problem isn't the female-to-male ratio; sounds like it's you. With all the energy you're spending self-consciously auditioning management styles, you could be breaking sales records. I run a show with a staff of a dozen, 10 of whom happen to be men. But who's counting? You lead from the top down by being yourself, not from the bottom up by reacting to a perceived chill. Your reps—be they male or female—will respect a leader who is confident and self-possessed. — Faith Salie, host of the public radio show Fair Game from PRI with Faith Salie.
It may be helpful to find a coach or mentor who could assist you in sharpening your leadership style. And definitely allow anyone who can't seem to work with you to find a man at another company to work for. — Rudy Rasmus, pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston