12 non-threatening leadership strategies for women
via Sarah Cooper

Note: This an excerpt is from Sarah Cooper's latest book, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings.

In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they're not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent. One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the fragile male ego.

Should men accept powerful women and not feel threatened by them? Yes. Is that asking too much? IS IT? Sorry, I didn't mean to get aggressive there. Anyhoo, here are twelve non-threatening leadership strategies for women.


When setting a deadline, ask your coworker what he thinks of doing something, instead of just asking him to get it done. This makes him feel less like you're telling him what to do and more like you care about his opinions.


When sharing your ideas, overconfidence is a killer. You don't want your male coworkers to think you're getting all uppity. Instead, downplay your ideas as just "thinking out loud," "throwing something out there," or sharing something "dumb," "random," or "crazy."


Pepper your emails with exclamation marks and emojis so you don't come across as too clear or direct. Your lack of efficient communication will make you seem more approachable.


If a male coworker steals your idea in a meeting, thank him for it. Give him kudos for how he explained your idea so clearly. And let's face it, no one might've ever heard it if he hadn't repeated it.


When you hear a sexist comment, the awkward laugh is key. Practice your awkward laugh at home, with your friends and family, and in the mirror. Make sure you sound truly delighted even as your soul is dying inside.


Men love explaining things. But when he's explaining something and you already know that, it might be tempting to say, "I already know that." Instead, have him explain it to you over and over again. It will make him feel useful and will give you some time to think about how to avoid him in the future.


Pointing out a mistake is always risky so it's important to always apologize for noticing the mistake and then make sure that no one thinks you're too sure about it. People will appreciate your "hey what do I know?!" sensibilities.


Asking your manager for a promotion could make you seem power- hungry, opportunistic, and transparent. Instead, ask a male coworker to vouch for you. Have your coworker tell your manager you'd be great for the role even though you don't really want it. This will make you more likely to actually get that promotion.


Sometimes not everyone is properly introduced at the start of a meeting. Don't take it personally even if it happens to you all the time, and certainly don't stop the meeting from moving forward to introduce yourself. Sending a quick note afterward is the best way to introduce yourself without seeming too self-important.


When you get interrupted, you might be tempted to just continue talking or even ask if you can finish what you were saying. This is treacherous territory. Instead, simply stop talking. The path of least resistance is silence.


When collaborating with a man, type using only one finger. Skill and speed are very off-putting.


When all else fails, wear a mustache so everyone sees you as more man-like. This will cancel out any need to change your leadership style. In fact, you may even get a quick promotion!


Many women have discovered the secret power of non-threatening leadership. We call it a "secret power" because no one else actually knows about it. We keep our power hidden within ourselves so that it doesn't frighten and intimidate others. That's what makes us the true unsung heroes of the corporate world.

About the Author: Sarah Cooper
Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian, and author of 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. Her new book, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings, is out now.


A satirical take on what it's like to be a woman in the workplace, Cooper draws from her experience as a former executive in the world of tech (she's a former Googler and Yahooer). You can get the book here.

This article was originally published on March 25, 2019.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


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Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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