How Nice Girls Can Wind Up On Top

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Nice Girls Lois Frankel, author of 'Nice Girls Get the Corner Office,' is taking things one step farther. In her upcoming book, entitled 'Nice Girls Just Don't Get It,' she says that although it's not necessary to be a mean girl, you can't be a doormat and avoid conflict if you want to achieve just about anything in life.

"There's a continuum, or a spectrum, from nice to b---h," she said in an exclusive interview with AOL Jobs on This Week in Careers. "On one end of the spectrum is Sally Field, the quintessential nice girl. On the other end of the spectrum is maybe someone like the late Leona Helmsley, who people knew as 'The Queen of Mean.'" Or maybe Omarosa from 'The Apprentice.'

"You don't want to be on either end of the continuum, because you're not going to get your goals met," Frankel says. "But there's a place in the middle where you combine 'nice' with direct, straight-forward behavior, that is really effective."

Frankel should know. In addition to the two books mentioned above, she also wrote 'Nice Girls Don't Get Rich' and 'See Jane Lead.' She had vast experience in human resources at a Fortune 100 oil company when she decided to go back to school and get her doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern California.

She's been one of the country's most prominent business and career coaches, and a sought out speaker ever since, having given expert advice on numerous media outlets, such as the 'Today' show, CNN and CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, People and Time Magazines. She's also consulted for major corporations such as Amgen, British Petroleum, GE, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Procter & Gamble, MasterCard, Microsoft, Warner Bros., The Walt Disney Company and Goldman Sachs.


Our two-tiered society

Frankel says, "We live in a society where we don't like men who act like women, and we don't like women who act like men. Women can't get away with doing the exact same thing that men do because our society won't tolerate it. You simply need to be an adult woman." And not just a nice little girl.

Frankel notes that "nice girls" often don't get the life, job or position they want, because they're living the way other people want or expect them to live -- the way they've been socialized. They've been told by their parents, teachers and friends that nice girls never talk about money, or nice girls are subtle and delicate, never direct. Nice girls always give away the biggest portion and keep the smallest portion for themselves. Nice girls avoid confrontation at all costs. Nice girls always let someone else go first. Men are just not socialized that way. In fact, they're socialized to be just the opposite.

And when you compare the number of men to women in top leadership positions, whether political, social or business, men vastly outnumber women. It's not even close. That's what Frankel means by going against the societal norms of being a "nice girl."


Women on top

"At heart I'm a psychotherapist, so I look at things from the perspective of, 'What is the mechanism that keeps people from getting the careers and the promotions and the money and the lives they want?' We're not saying the women shouldn't be nice," she continues. "That's not the message at all. Nice is necessary for success in any endeavor, but it's not sufficient."

Some positive examples of female leaders that Frankel cites are:

Sherry Lansing, who ran Paramount studios for a number of years, and is currently focusing of philanthropic endeavors.

Meg Whitman, who recently was defeated for governor of California, but effectively ran a large company, eBay, and grew it into what is is today.

Anne Mulcahy, former chairwoman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corp.

Andrea Jung, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Avon Products, Inc.

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Mary Kay Ash, the late founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Frankel believes she's the best example of all. "This is a woman who started a business on a shoe string, who had a vision to start a company that would help women become financially independent, in which God could come first, family could come second, and work could come third. Now how many people do you know who would start a business saying, 'I want my employees to put work third'? And she got rich from that philosophy," Frankel observes.

Frankel stresses that that's one of her main messages. "Rich is not a dirty word. You can do good and do well at the same time. Not all of us are going to be CEOs. Not all of us are going to make hundreds of millions. But you can live the life you want, free of concerns about money, if you start focusing on making money a priority -- and you don't have to exclude your other values."

Traditionally, it has not been considered appropriate for nice girls to focus on making money. Lois Frankel is here to disprove the validity of that worldview.

Next: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

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