No secret I love a good F word.

Feminist. Fabulous. Flawesome. Feisty! Marina Go wrote this article in Women’s Agenda  about being feisty;

  1. Being FEISTY is a desirable leadership trait
  2. Being FEISTY is code for courageous, high spirited and independent

I decided last year to add feisty to the list of F Words that I love. I was a bit late to the feisty party. Very neglectful of me considering most people would consider me the epitome of feistiness. Call me a late bloomer!  I grew up surrounded by feisty women; my Mum (an avowed feisty feminist) my Nana (a groovy, feisty, funny woman) and my two Aunties (still feisty, still fabulous!) who all role modelled what being feisty is. It is simply the norm in our family.

Society tells women in many ways that being feisty is not OK.

Marina Go writes about the appalling treatment dished out to Julia Gillard during her term(s) as Prime Minister which resulted in her now legendary misogyny speech. Prime Minister Gillard spoke about the subtle (or not so) double standards that she, and other women, must endure. Women must ensure they are compliant, non-emotional and meet the behavioural expectations set by the pale, male and stale brigade that rule the hallowed halls of parliament, board rooms and round the executive tables. Not feisty! Think I am being fast and furious with the truth? Think again…the statistics about women in parliament, board rooms and executive tables in Australia are grim and progress is occurring at a glacial pace! We need some more feisty females at the top!

Glacial PAce Meme

Have you ever been the recipient of the feisty talk?

I have, although what was surprising was that it took until I was in my late 40’s for it to occur. My feisty feedback was delivered by one of the aforesaid pale, male, stale brigade.  I didn’t fit the demure, compliant mould I was very vigorously being shoved into. Hearing the feedback was challenging, of course, but in retrospect quite humorous as it said more about the system and the men in it than me. Plus, I’ve got a fair bit of mileage from it when I’ve been researching and writing. So, thanks Mr pale, male & stale, you gave me a very timely reminder to get on with being more courageous, more high-spirited and FEISTIER!

‘Don’t be feisty’ talks are sometimes the fork in the road moment for women. I have made and continue to make career choices that are anchored in my purpose, passion and of course my values. I recognise that not every woman will be able to choose to flout (another F Word) the rules and go against the prevailing culture, so here are some tips if you encounter a ‘don’t be feisty’ feedback session from the boss:

  1. Do not react immediately. Do not argue. Do not get defensive. (count to 100 in your head!);
  2. Listen & write down the feedback. You can review it later when you are on your own;
  3. Unless you believe you are being bullied or harassed, acknowledge the feedback and request some time to consider it before you respond;
  4. Self-reflection is a great thing. On your own, ask yourself what is fact, what is opinion? If there is fact, own it and hone it. If it’s opinion, choose what you want to do about it, including ignoring it and moving on (literally or figuratively);
  5. Get an outside opinion. Contact your mentor to discuss the matter and ask for her opinion. That’s what mentors are for! (If you don’t have a strategic mentor, get one!)

As a man gets more successful, he is better liked by men and women, and as a woman gets more successful, she is less liked by men and women.

Sheryl Sandberg

As a woman, you are judged differently. However, that does not mean you must comply with all the rules, norms and culture of those you work for or report to. After all, if Julia Gillard had turned tail when the boys club kicked in, we wouldn’t have had our first, fabulous, flawesome, female Prime Minister would we?

Want more advice about how to be feistier and advance your career? Michelle Redfern has developed the formula! Find out more here.

EQ + IQ + SQ = Advancing Women

Michelle Redfern loves F words! some of her favourite are fabulous, feisty, fantastic, female, flawesome, footy and feminism. She is a  card-carrying (if there were cards), flag waving (if there were flags), feminist. Because feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Michelle is also an astute businesswoman & keen entrepreneur who has founded two businesses to advise women in business and sport, how to shatter the glass ceiling & advance, in whatever way they want to advance. 

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