Women in creative industries at the mid-level stage of their careers often find themselves in a Goldilocks predicament: They're neither just starting out, nor are they top dog (yet). Many aren't entrepreneurs in the traditional sense, but their careers require a similar level of self-promotion and initiative as business owners. And while they may have ambition and talent in spades, that darn glass ceiling is still — yes, still — causing quite the headache each time they slam up against it on the path to leadership.
True, women in all industries struggle against hiring and wage inequalities, but finding the mentor/strategy/network/ that's just right is particularly hard for women in creative fields.
Enter Lady Boss, a New York-based initiative that offers tools, resources and events for these women. According to their website, Lady Boss helps ladies who want to be bosses "kick more ass in work and life."
At a recent Lady Boss event, founder/director Tracy Candido, Kat Kinsman, editor-at-large and former editor-in-chief of Tasting Table, as well as the author of the forthcoming book "Hi, Anxiety," and Elizabeth Valleau, a creative director, entrepreneur and musician known for her projects Empire Mayonnaise and the art collective WOLVVES, offered their best advice for dealing with emotions in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence vs. emotional honesty
Being a boss requires being accountable to and creating a safe space for others, says Valleau. Freaking out can shake the faith of people depending on you, but that doesn't mean you should strive to be an emotionless automaton, either.
"I personally do my best work when I can be a human," says Kinsman. "Going into a place where you feel like people are on the same kind of path, where you don't feel like you have to apologize for yourself whatsoever is a huge thing."
So where to draw the line?
"It's a weird parsing. There's emotional intelligence and emotional honesty," she says. "The stereotype that women are overly emotional is one of the tools that's used to keep us from places of power, and places of creativity," says Valleau. She suggests "dealing with the stereotype head on, and using it as a teachable moment to show that emotions aren't bad. What's bad is using them in a manipulative way or in a vulnerable way that's not approrpirate in the workplace."
Find your inner frat boy
Ambitious women are often taught to downplay their desires, and as a result, says Valleau,"there's very few professional resources for young women who specifically want to be the boss...even if we haven't made it yet, the desire to be really awesome seems unladylike somehow."
Kinsman, who often writes about mental health and wellness, says that unfortunately, women tend to censor themselves for fear of sounding bossy or entitled. Her strategy?
"I do a little exercise where I tell myself, channel your inner frat boy — mine's name is Chet — and I think, what would Chet do? Channel that kind of confidence, and don't apologize for having desires and wants."
Be okay with not being okay
When you do find yourself getting emotional in a work situation, don't beat yourself up about it — but don't freak out, either. "Give yourself permission to not be hunky-dory okay all of the time," says Kinsman. She suggests taking a beat, and stepping back. "You might be trying to not explode, but they [other employees] might see you as poised," she says. "You can always go and bury your face in your dog or your partner later."
Dress like a boss