The net is abuzz once again about Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast artistic director. As a leader, she is more often than not portrayed in the negative context of being a "bitch" to work with. But just why is having that reputation such a bad thing when it comes to leadership?
As the CEO of a company, who also happens to be a woman, I take umbrage at that. When was the last time anyone referred to Jack Welch as a "bitch" to work with? He made tough calls and faced just as many doubters and naysayers as Wintour, but no one ever saddled him with the "bitch" moniker. Below are 3 things Wintour can teach us all about cultivating our inner bitch -- and why every man or woman in a leadership position should.
1.) Decisiveness directly affects success.
The primary job of any leader is to make the tough calls that no one else wants to make. Inevitably, tough calls are usually tough because they are controversial and have vocal opponents. Being decisive, rather than dragging your feet or overanalyzing the situation, is the key to getting a successful outcome-;something Wintour has been exceptionally good at in her position at Vogue.
If being willing to make hard choices and shoulder the responsibility for them merits being called a bitch, than any leader worth his salt should be breaking out his bitch skills on a regular basis.
2.) Delegating intelligently opens doors to innovation.
As an editor, Wintour relies on the skills of photographers, writers, layout specialists, etc, to make her vision a reality. In doing so, she is both required to delegate responsibilities to others and depend on those people to deliver the items they have been tasked with in order to swiftly advance her company. As evidenced by her illustrious career at the head of the world's most revered fashion magazine, her willingness to delegate has paid off over and over again.
However, the hard reality for any company is that delegates don't always deliver, and when they don't, there must be repercussions. Reprimands and reproaches aren't often welcomed by those on the receiving end. If being willing to call out someone who doesn't perform makes a leader a bitch, than bitchiness should be on every leader's quarterly "to do" list.
3.) Cultivating a little elusiveness keeps people on their feet.
Wintour like many leaders has been made a public persona by her position. While she is vocal about her views on fashion, she is also famed for keeping her professional and personal cards close to her chest, drawing a strict line between her public and private personas.
This refusal to share everything has won her many detractors who think of her guardedness as further proof of her bitch status. However, great leaders know that, while people must trust him in order to follow him, the element of surprise is sometimes the most effective way to win critical battles. Causing people to be curious is an immensely powerful tool when it comes to deal making, to instigating change, and to keeping a competitive edge. If being an enigma is equated with being a bitch, than the best leaders know that it pays to be a bitch.
Wintour described her vision of a leader best when she said, "You can't be some difficult, shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face. You have to present yourself, you have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus, and what you believe in." Long live bitches in power.