Do you have to be ruthless to be successful?

You don’t have to fit the stereotype of the ultra-mean boss to meet the challenges of the business world. Women, it seems, must tread extra carefully, the author suggests.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

In the study, 40 percent of women ages 18 to 35 described the mentality of contestants on these types of shows as off-putting, causing them to doubt they had the ruthlessness they needed to be successful in business. However, more than half of women asked said they were inspired to get into business by women who failed in their first venture but went on to build successful organizations.

Recently I was asked to look back over the previous 20+ years working in the city to recall women I have worked with who showed no pity and were merciless in business. I honestly couldn’t think of one. The only person that kept springing to mind was Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada,” and I don’t know one woman who would aspire to the nature of that character or who wouldn’t have an internal battle about acting in such a manner.

Being ruthless is certainly not a trait I would encourage any of my mentees to use in order to get ahead. From a personal perspective, there were times in my own career when I have adopted a ruthless approach, but it involved business decisions rather than people. Whenever there was a person involved I found I wrestled more with the business decision, because being ruthless is not something that comes naturally to me or to most women.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.