What Are the First Two Actions a New (Female) Manager Must Take?



Kay Coles James

Former Director

of OPMMen and women are different, inspite of what feminists preach. And women must manage differently. Here’s how to start.

Years ago I talked with Kay Coles James, who would eventually head the Office of Personnel Management for the Feds. I asked her about the challenges for new female managers.

I though she would recite the usual drivel of soft skills, empathy, sharing and caring. The girly stuff.

I was wrong. She hit me hard saying:


1) Fire Someone. And,

2) Cut Someone’s Budget.

This is not for the faint of heart. And only a small, self-selecting group of women can handle such brutality.

But it is the best way for most women to be effective.

And not as bad as Your Business Blogger, or Kay makes it out to be.


On assuming any new position of responsibility, there will be necessary changes in personnel and budget allocation. Make those changes immediately on your arrival.

That will be the easy part.

The challenge is to negotiate up-front with the new boss as a condition on taking the new job. The new female manager should tell her superior that 1) she will be making changes, and 2) she must have her bosses’ backing.

I always advise my clients that their new bosses know where the deadwood is and want improvements made. By the new guy — girl. Odds are that the new female manager will be doing what needed to be done — long before she was hired.

Kay is the woman’s best example on breaking the glass ceiling. By breaking some china.

But don’t do the firing at Christmas.

And call me to keep from becoming a sociopath.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Husband of Kay, Charles, swore me in as member of the Denis Thatcher Society. Contact me if you’d like to join. Or, rather, have your wife call.

Bob Pritchett has more advice. And check out his blog.

Full Disclosure: Charmaine used to work for Kay.

Visit Basil’s Blog for good reads.


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5 Responses

  1. Terry says:


    I think you are right that women do need to show that they are going to develop an effective organization rather than merely play nice with others. Cutting the dead wood would do that.

    I’m studying for the ministry. When I get my first church, should I fire someone too just to show I’m tough?



  2. Nancy LaJoice says:


    Wow! I am definitely from the faint at heart stock. I find Kay’s suggestions as civilized as a dog marking his territory. At times it may be necessary, but as standard procedure, I can’t even begin to agree.

    And that’s why baskin robbins makes 32 flavors – to satisfy different tastes.

    Cheers, Nancy 🙂

  3. jack yoest says:

    Terry, You probably will not have to, nor need to fire anyone. Two reasons:

    1) You’re male, and

    2) You’re not a sociopath



  4. Jack Yoest says:

    Nancy, goodness. Civilized Management?

    In a dog-eat-dog-world?

    What’s the world coming to?

    (And why are women always right?)



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