15 Lies Women Are Told at Work…and the Truth We Need to Succeed: A Book Review by Bob Morris

15 Lies Women Are Told at Work…and the Truth We Need to Succeed
Bonnie Hammer
Simon Element/An Imprint of Simon & Schuster (May 2024)

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I agree with Mrs. Roosevelt up to a point but the fact remains that most people throughout history have been born into and then remained in positions of inferiority without their consent.

All of the lies on which Bonnie Hammer focuses presuppose that women comprise an inferior gender. Since childhood, many (if not most) females have been told at home, school, and eventually at work a litany of false dos and don’ts as well as cans and can’ts, ought tos ands ought not tos….etc. ad nauseum. But times are changing and traditional limits are being  modified or ignored.

As I worked my way through Chapter 9, “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait/Great Things Come to Those Who Act,” I was again reminded of Leading Change in which James O’Toole suggests that the greatest resistance to change initiatives tends to be the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology oƒ comfort and the tyranny of custom.”  I also commend to your attention this observation by John Kotter during one of my interviews of him: “The greatest challenge for change agents is to change how they think about change.” Those who attempt to achieve “great things” must keep O’Toole’s insight and Kotter’s observation clearly in mind.

I commend Hammer on her skillful use oƒ several reader-friendly devices in each of the first fifteen of sixteen chapters. They include “What We’re Told/The Truth”, “MY TAKE”, “NAIL IT”, and “THE FINAL WORD” sections that — together — fully repudiate a specific lie.

In Chapter 14 (“Don’t Mix Work With Play/All Work and No Play Makes Everone Dull”), for example, Hammer includes an updated list of “Commandments” in the NAIL IT section:

“1. Thou Shalt Lead by Example
2. Thou Shalt Know Thyself
3. Thou Shalt Know Thy People
4. Thou Shalt Acknowledge and Appreciate Freely
5. Thou Shalt Do Better than Pizza and Ping-Pong
6. Thou Shalt Mind Each Other’s Business
7. Thou Shalt Be Up Front
8. Thou Shalt Welcome Collisions
9. Thou Shalt Initiate Intermissions
10. Thou Shalt Assume the Best”

Hammer discusses each, then concludes: “In today’s ‘new normal,’ mixing work and play is increasingly considered nefarious. That’s because the phrase has been co-opted by bad actors, and, as a result, people with good intentions aren’t acting on them. That’s bad news for everyone. The good news, though, is that there are better ways to reclaim a version  of what’s been lost — a healthier, more positive version that helps everyone thrive. And if we strike the right balance, if we mix work with play the right way, we’ll be making ourselves a pleasure to do business with along the way.”

What many view as a struggle for gender equity in the business world is — or at least should be — a struggle for human rights supported by everyone within and beyond the workplace.  I share Bonnie Hammer’s hope that this book gives both female and male readers the tools and truths (and attitude) needed to collaborate on striking that balance while taking control of their story to accelerate their — and others’ — personal growth and professional development.

15 Lies Women Are Told at Work…and the Truth We Need to Succeed is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!



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