Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: S&M at the Office

Monday, July 16, 2007

S&M at the Office

Book Review: The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work by Lisa Robyn

Does business revolve around the concept of surrender?

Are there relevant parallels between sadomasochism and corporate culture?

Lisa Robyn in her new book, The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work, suggests power can be found in both submission and domination. Learn the archetype that is natural to you, how to borrow power, rely on personal power or assume other roles to suit a situation.

Archetype One: The Goddess
The Goddess is self-possessed, thrives on attention (if not, worship), and stays secure with her inner peace and knowledge of self-worth. The Goddess excels in dealing with challenging meetings or confrontational colleagues. She listens to her positive inner voice, keeps her composure, disarms with generosity and graciously accepts support and recognition.

Archetype Two: The Queen
The Queen doesn't just seek power; she wields power with ambition and confidence. She is clear on her objectives; she networks, negotiates and delegates her way to her ultimate goal. Ruling her kingdom, whether a business unit or a team of secretaries, the Queen, mediates, listens, delegates, supports and rewards -- she is a fair Queen. While conscious of the support needed from all constituencies - her boss, her colleagues and her subordinates - the Queen cultivates an image that commands loyalty and respect.

Archetype Three: The Governess
When it's time to manage to the rules, turn to the Governess. She is the keeper of expert and reward power. She leads by example, knows and respects the rules, and rewards those who manage the details to her requirements. The Governess is a natural mentor, teacher and keeper of the corporate culture.

Archetype Four: The Amazon
Strong-willed, independent, heroic, fearless, and strategic are adjectives associated with the corporate Amazon. "The operative principle of the Amazon is to to use might, but only when you're in the right. The Amazon can shift smoothly from direct confrontation to manipulative strategies in the name of her ultimate objective. She knows that winning peace, as well as the war, is critical in achieving her ultimate objective.

Archetype Five: The Nurse
Diagnosing and providing "first aid" to an organization is a key skill of the Nurse. She gains her power through her ability to provide protection, safety and comfort to those around her. A natural teamplayer, the Nurse reacts in a positive and productive manner, reduces and mitigating issues in a workplace.

Archetype Six: The Schoolgirl
Strategically submissive, the Schoolgirl gains her power through obedience, deference to authority and ingratiating regard. Using her charm, she is submissive without being subservient, knowing that she can gain advantage through supporting, rather than challenging, others.

The book provides tests to assess your natural style, the keys to success and the dark side of each archetype. Recognizing where the source of your power and how to find power in new ways will liberate many women in the corporate workplace.

Guidelines are offered on picking a role based on the situation. Many readers may feel a need for additional examples on how to pick and how to flex between different roles in order to gain the full value from this book. Perhaps we can look forward to these examples as women test and try out these various roles.

- How have you seen these six archetypes manifest themselves in the workplace? -

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