S&M in the office

One of my favorite things about Amazon is that books are recommended based on your browsing history or prior purchases. I read a lot of business books – generally themed toward entrepreneurship & innovation or management. Recently I’ve been reading more books targeted to women in management positions in male dominated organizations. And speaking of books, I really want a Kindle.


The two I’ve read most recently The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get your Way at Work and Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top have both had an S & M Theme.

Now granted, in Seducing the Boys Club, the S & M is defined as “Seduce and Manipulate” and is an autobiographical history of one woman’s rise to the top of her company. This book is entertaining and filled with advice and suggestions. Some of it the advice is so over the top I found myself laughing, often. Here’s an example:

“One of the great tools, or weapons, we have as women is flirting, and men always respond well to positive attention. If you know you are going to a contentious meeting with a man, you can defuse his anger before he even opens his mouth. Unless he is morbidly obese, there is no man on earth who won’t puff up at this sentence:

“Wow, you look great. Been working out?”

Or if you “accidentally” touch a man’s arm while you are talking about something serious, you can interrupt yourself with a quick show of admiration:

“Wow, your arm is like steel. Been working out?”

I know, I know, it’s obvious and underhanded, but is always works.”

Um, you’ve got to be kidding me.

My favorite parts of this book are where the author shares her missteps – what the situation was and how she handled it badly. Almost always, she will share how she turned it around – a process that might have taken weeks, months or years. These are truly illuminating case studies, almost all written in the humorous tone above.

The corporate dominatrix is written in a more traditional way, and is built around the more common definition of S & M. The goal is to not become either sadistic or masochistic but to use the lessons of S&M to become an effective corporate dominatrix.

What are the characteristics of a Corporate Dominatrix you might ask?

  • Has clear boundaries; does not allow others to restrict or violate boundaries
  • Conveys thoughts and opinions directly & clearly
  • Expresses gratitude and appreciation graciously
  • Uses direct eye contact, sturdy posture, assured gestures.

Who doesn’t want to be her!

The author defines six common fantasy archetypes to discuss when each management style (and what type of power to use) would be most appropriate so that one can become a “Corporate Dominatrix”.

These are:

  • The Goddess – personal power
  • The Queen – positional power
  • The Governess – expert power
  • The Amazon – coercive power
  • The Nurse – healing power
  • The Schoolgirl – borrowed power (referent power)

This framework is interesting and useful. Most of us have a preferred archetype or three with which we are most comfortable with the others underdeveloped. I definitely have a few I need to work on. I called a mentor a few weeks ago for advice. I was getting ready for a meeting and knew my inner Amazon was ready to do battle but I also knew she was absolutely NOT the archetype who was needed for the meeting. I had not yet read this book, but I can now see that my mentor was trying to persuade my inner Amazon to become a Queen for the meeting. Interesting.