THE CORPORATE DOMINATRIX: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work by Lisa Robyn

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Learn The Ins and Outs Of The Corporate Power Game

Do female employees ever feel mortified in a business meeting? Get treated like children when presenting projects to a supervisors? Feel like widgets instead of a human beings in performance reviews? Play amateur therapists with their bosses? Do female employees ever present ideas in meetings with passion…only to be dismissed as too "emotional?"

If working women answer yes to these questions, they should be aware that humiliation, infantilism and objectification are all used in S&M says Lisa Robyn, author of the new book THE CORPORATE DOMINATRIX: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work. "Not surprisingly, these dynamics are recreated daily at the office. Any situation in which some people have power and some people do not can inevitably lead to abuses by the people with power, and forcing those with less power to play a subordinate role."

In the book, sadistic and masochistic personality traits are used in the workplace in an emotional and social -- rather than sexual -- sense. Not only is corporate culture dysfunctional, so is the fascination with this power paradigm. The television show "The Apprentice" may be the clearest example. Viewers tune in not only because of our fascination with work culture, but also because we know, and want to see, that someone will be fired. The audience looks forward to watching the contestants squirm in the boardroom, turn on each other and often into sycophants, and then desperately try to defend themselves before Donald Trump focuses his attention on one of the contestants and utters, "You're fired." In other words, the culture supports it, and even encourages it.

Working women are particularly vulnerable in this S&M office environment, according to the author. Although women have made significant strides in the workplace, most are still conflicted about how their corporate power is perceived, or acknowledged. So, the workplace is a strange new landscape, where women are somewhat stuck. A new model is desperately needed ...

Enter the Corporate Dominatrix.

THE CORPORATE DOMINATRIX shows women how to use the role playing tricks of the trade of the professional dominatrix to succeed in the workplace. Lisa Robyn explains that the key to effectiveness is to know how and when to switch roles according to the situation at hand. Working women need to know when to be dominant (i.e., strong) and when to be submissive (i.e., flexible). They must know how and when to pick your battles. They must be confident enough to intuit what your clients or colleagues need and want and to respond accordingly. By becoming "the corporate dominatrix," female executives exercise their power and mastery in the workplace using disciplines relating to attitude and technique. The key to success is being able to succeed managerially while still remaining "womanly." Clearly, this leaves women with the quandary over which role to play: Can they be both forceful and female?

By using the disciplines and rules found in THE CORPORATE DOMINATRIX, female executives will learn how to apply role-playing models by using six archetypes: the Goddess (the spiritual side), the Queen (the sovereign/ruler), the Governess (the schoolteacher/disciplinarian), the Amazon (the warrior/combatant), the Nurse (the social worker/medic), and the Schoolgirl (the student/apprentice). They will figure out which of the six sisters you are closest to and then learn how to employ the tactics of the others to your advantage. Each archetype has its own set of defining characteristics and utilizes a particular type of power:

  • The Goddess -- looks for meaning in her work, sees good instead of evil in coworkers and management, doesn't worry about mistakes, works to achieve balance in work and life, is honest about strengths/weaknesses and provides inspiration to others. She uses personal power.
  • The Queen -- is royally assertive, goal-oriented, places a high emphasis on loyalty, thrives on prestige, enjoys privilege, works toward building an empire, delegates with clout, networks and exercises benevolence and not malevolence. She uses position power.
  • The Governess -- displays patience, provides guidance, has a strong sense of duty, sets up and maintains organizational systems, is proactive, resourceful, enjoys mentoring, inspires cooperation, is trustworthy and doesn't contradict authority -- she enforces it. She uses expert and reward powers.
  • The Amazon -- is independent, heroic, protective, fearless, industrious, dynamic, analytical, courageous, forceful, decisive and resolute. She uses coercive power.
  • The Nurse -- is productively reactive, responsive to emergencies, composed, humane, respectful, thorough, fastidious, observant and a natural at administering remedies. She uses healing power.
  • The Schoolgirl -- an apprentice who is curious, obedient, interdependent, acquiescent, youthful, playful, respectful of authority, coy, lighthearted with a sense of humor and mischievous. She uses borrowed power.

After looking over these archetypes, a female executive may find that the role of Governess fits her like a black leather glove, while the role of the schoolgirl suits her co-worker to a tee. Working women will be able to relate to some roles more than others, but by the time they finish the book, they will be so familiar with all the sisters, that they will know when and where to use their Corporate Dominatrix skills for a myriad of situations that comes up -- in work and in life.

Remember, power is as power does. Women -- even more than men -- must be dominating without being domineering says Robyn. They can be seemingly submissive to management and acquiesce to authority at times to pick their shots strategically and get ahead, but not play the victim. They must be able to play both roles and walk the line between hard business tactics and soft people skills. Think one part Laura Bush and one part Hillary Clinton. Women have to be firm and direct, but also compliant and flexible. They need to work harder at being included in informal networks. A woman who skillfully melds these techniques -- who can strategically assume the appropriate part for the situation, i.e., role-play -- becomes The Corporate Dominatrix, and The Corporate Dominatrix always comes out on top.

Lisa Robyn is a book publishing veteran and founder and president of her own marketing communications company. Before establishing her own firm, Robyn held senior positions on the public relations, marketing, and editorial side of the book business. Robyn has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Good Day New York, Weekend Today and has been quoted in the New York Times, Industry Standard, Publishers Weekly, Business Week, 800ceoread, PR Tactics, and MBA Jungle.

Lisa Berkowitz

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