The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work

Overview

The Corporate Dominatrix exposes the workplace for what it truly is: a social sadomasochistic wonderland — one in which some people have power and some do not, thus creating an unbalanced command-and-control dynamic. Using the psychological tools of the professional dominatrix, Lisa Robyn shows women how to role-play their way to success by employing the tactics of six mistress archetypes: Goddess, Queen, Amazon, Governess, Nurse, and Schoolgirl. For a dominatrix in everyday life, the key to effectiveness lies in...

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Overview

The Corporate Dominatrix exposes the workplace for what it truly is: a social sadomasochistic wonderland — one in which some people have power and some do not, thus creating an unbalanced command-and-control dynamic. Using the psychological tools of the professional dominatrix, Lisa Robyn shows women how to role-play their way to success by employing the tactics of six mistress archetypes: Goddess, Queen, Amazon, Governess, Nurse, and Schoolgirl. For a dominatrix in everyday life, the key to effectiveness lies in being switchable — knowing when to be firm and direct and when to be flexible and accommodating. The Corporate Dominatrix dominates without being domineering and is submissive without being subservient. She stands up for her rights in an open and straightforward way, and she is confident enough to intuit what her clients or colleagues want and she responds accordingly.

Robyn provides a compelling strategy for women to get their way at work by choosing the appropriate role to fit the particular situation, while always behaving in a professional manner that earns respect. Filled with examples and practical tips, this provocative business book will help every businesswoman advance to the position she wants and truly become the mistress of her domain.

Power becomes you . . . Use it wisely.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A must-read for women who want to use their power more effectively in the workplace. Not whips and chains but clear, cogent, and practical strategies for the dominatrix within you." — David Brandt, PhD, bestselling author of Don't Stop Now, You're Killing Me: The Sadomasochism Game in Everyday Life and How Not to Play It

"If Lisa Robyn were a stock, I would invest in her. She's the consummate Corporate Dominatrix, and her savvy career advice is invaluable." — Barbara Stanny, suthor of Secrets of Six-Figure Women, Overcoming Underearning, and Prince Charming Isn't Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money

"Like Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar's feminist Kama Sutra, Lisa Robyn's The Corporate Dominatrix is a mind bender. Sensitive to the power plays and players in institutional life, this book overturns gender stereotypes to reveal how women may empower themselves in the workplace. Keeping their eyes on the ball, women executives will learn the long-range strategies, at times involving tactical retreats, that will enable them to realize their career objectives." — John Munder Ross, PhD, author of The Sadomasochism of Everyday Life; What Men Want; and Tales of Love, Sex and Danger

"If you've been held back by a corporate structure designed by men, The Corporate Dominatrix will show you, step-by-step, how to get the big bucks and the real power on your own terms with real cases, strategies, and roles you've been playing all your life. It turns the tables on corporate power, and ths time women win big!" — William Parkhurst, author of How to Get Publicity and The Eloquent Executive

Publishers Weekly

It would be understandable but wrong to assume that Robyn—a publishing industry and public relations veteran—attached an eye-catching title to a standard female empowerment book just to snag the attention. But her effort is no more standard than the questions in the Corporate Dominatrix personality quiz. Applying the lessons she learned "stepping into the pumps" of a practicing dominatrix and owner of an upscale dungeon in New York, she doesn't just talk a good game, she whips the secrets of the s&m trade into practical advice for thriving in the workplace. Guiding readers through the six roles of domination—the goddess, the queen, the governess, the amazon, the nurse and the schoolgirl—she describes the attributes of each role and how to play them in order to gain positive results from bosses, co-workers and direct reports. For instance, assuming the amazon role can smooth the way when merging staffs after a reorganization; the schoolgirl role creates opportunities to borrow power and learn from mentors; and if a queen rules with a velvet glove, not an iron fist, she can build support by fortifying those below her. More than a standout title, Robyn offers advice for getting serious results in a most readable fashion. Leather, whips and chains are optional. (Apr. 11)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416940746
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 4/10/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Robyn is a book publishing veteran and founder and president of her own marketing communications company. Before establishing her own firm, Robyn held senior positions on the public relations, marketing, and editorial side of the book business. She created blockbuster marketing campaigns for bestsellers such as The Dilbert Principle, Reengineering the Corporation, Good to Great, The Innovator's Dilemma, and Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?, among others. She also taught book publicity at the NYU School of Continuing Education. Robyn has been quoted in the New York Times, Industry Standard, Publishers Weekly, BusinessWeek, 800ceoread, PR Tactics, and MBA Jungle.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

THE SIX SISTERS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU HAD

The Corporate Dominatrix can successfully apply role-playing models from her professional dominatrix cousin by using the six fantasy mistress archetypes: the Goddess (the spiritual you), the Queen (the sovereign), the Governess (the schoolteacher and mentor), the Amazon (the warrior), the Nurse (the caregiver and medic), and the Schoolgirl (the student and apprentice). Do any of these roles sound familiar? I'm sure you've unconsciously used some of them yourself. Now you will channel these heroines, consciously switching from one to the other to move up in your career. Remember, women are natural role players — we're mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, wives, friends — so learning to apply the Corporate Dominatrix archetypes will be easier than you think.

WHO ARE YOU, REALLY?

Below are some questions that will help you figure out which of these sisters are closest to your heart. After the questions, there are lists of defining characteristics that can help you determine which archetypes you naturally embody and where you want to focus your dominance training. If you find you don't relate to a particular type, don't sweat it — we'll work on that later in the book. Just acquaint yourself with the defining characteristics for now.

Ladies, meet your new siblings. . . .

DO YOU WORSHIP THE GODDESS WITHIN?

There are only two types of women — goddesses and doormats.

— Pablo Picasso

  1. Do you listen to your own intuition instead of the office rumor mill?
  2. Can you remain centered regardless of external forces?
  3. Do you see the glass as half full instead of half empty?
  4. Do you have a calming influence on those around you?
  5. Is your inner world more important than the outer world?

If you answered yes to at least three out of five of these questions, you're levitating above the daily grind.

Defining characteristics of the Goddess

When in Goddess mode, you:

• maintain detachment

• look for meaning in your work

• see the good instead of the evil in coworkers and management

• choose the road less traveled

• take the higher ground

• don't sweat mistakes and confrontations

• work to achieve balance in work and life

• remain honest about your strengths and your weaknesses

• provide inspiration to others

• have a heightened state of awareness

DO YOU DEMAND THE RESPECT OF A QUEEN?

In every woman there is a Queen.

Speak to the Queen and the Queen will answer.

— Norwegian proverb

  1. Do you like to be in a position of authority?
  2. Do you have a tendency to be more involved in big ideas than details?
  3. Are you energized by politics?
  4. Do you consciously expand your domain to enhance your career and fulfill your vision?
  5. Do you hold "court" in and out of the office?

If you answered yes to at least three out of five of these questions, you've got some royal blood in your veins.

Defining characteristics of the Queen

When in Queen mode, you:

• are royally assertive

• are goal oriented

• place a high emphasis on loyalty

• thrive on prestige

• enjoy privilege

• work toward building an empire

• delegate with clout

• network and make significant connections

• exercise benevolence and not malevolence

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO GIVE DIRECTION LIKE A GOVERNESS?

Actions have consequences. Good behavior is rewarded.

Bad behavior comes with penalties.

Nanny 911, the book

  1. Do you enjoy the process of teaching and training?
  2. Are you comfortable in a supervisory capacity?
  3. Is organization your strong suit?
  4. Do you remember the rules when others don't?
  5. Do you like being entrusted with the management of others?

If you said yes to at least three out of five of these questions, you might have a flair for being a task mistress.

Defining characteristics of the Governess

When in Governess mode, you:

• display patience

• provide guidance

• have a strong sense of duty

• set up and maintain organizational systems

• are proactive

• are resourceful

• enjoy mentoring

• problem solve

• inspire cooperation

• are trustworthy

• don't contradict authority — you enforce it

ARE YOU A BATTLE-READY AMAZON?

As fierce as hell, or fiercer still, / A woman piqued who has her will.

— John Byrom, "Epistle to a Friend"

  1. Are you conquest oriented?
  2. Do you challenge people in authority if necessary?
  3. Do you thrive on confrontation or conflict to restore order and justice?
  4. Do you continue on another tack if defeated?
  5. Are you a strategic thinker?

If you said yes to at least three out of five of these questions, you're a natural warrior.

Defining characteristics of the Amazon

When in Amazon mode, you are:

• independent

• heroic

• protective

• fearless

• industrious

• dynamic

• analytical

• courageous

• forceful

• decisive

• resolute

DO YOU APPLY FIRST AID LIKE A NURSE?

Panic plays no part in the training of a nurse.

— Elizabeth Kenny

  1. Are you a healer at heart?
  2. At work, do you feel like a paramedic for a corporate unit of M*A*S*H?
  3. Are you sometimes better at taking care of other people than you are of yourself?
  4. Can you determine when the atmosphere is reaching a boiling point in the office?
  5. Do you have steady hands during emergencies?

If you answered yes to at least three out of five of these questions, put on your scrubs and grab your thermometer.

Defining characteristics of the Nurse

When in Nurse mode, you are:

• productively reactive

• a medicine woman

• responsive to emergencies

• composed

• humane

• respectful

• thorough

• fastidious

• observant

• a natural at administering remedies

DO YOU REMEMBER HOW IT FEELS TO BE A SCHOOLGIRL?

Flattery will get you everywhere.

— Mae West

  1. Do you know how to play innocent to get ahead?
  2. Can you appear nonthreatening in order to allow others to feel more knowledgeable than they really are, to stroke their egos?
  3. Do you sometimes allow higher-ups to use your ideas as theirs to further your career?
  4. Do you know how to use compliments in order to wrap coworkers around your finger?
  5. Are you mindful of your place in the corporate hierarchy?

If you answered yes to at least three out of five of these questions, you're comfortable in your plaid skirt and Mary Janes.

Defining characteristics of the Schoolgirl

When in Schoolgirl mode, you are:

• the apprentice

• curious

• obedient

• interdependent

• acquiescent

• youthful

• playful

• respectful of authority

• coy

• lighthearted with a sense of humor

• mischievous

After looking these over, you may find that the role of Governess fits like a black leather glove while the thought of the Schoolgirl describes your coworker to a tee. You may be able to relate to some sisters more than others. By the time you're finished with this book, you'll be so familiar with all the archetypes, that you'll know when and where to use your Corporate Dominatrix skills for any situation that comes up — in work and in life.

WHAT'S YOUR DOMINANCE QUOTIENT?

Test it with the Corporate Dominatrix quiz. Let's see where you are on the dominance scale. Remember, honesty is the best policy. There are no wrong answers!

1. It's a month past your annual review, and you're still waiting to set up a meeting with your supervisor. You:

a. remain in a holding pattern, since no news is probably good news.

b. contact Human Resources to see if they can jump-start your boss into action.

c. speak to your boss about arranging an immediate appointment to discuss your review and your retroactive raise.

2. The word at your company is that promotions are being held back for budgetary reasons. You:

a. try to remain a company gal and ride out this bad patch.

b. point out all the great work you're doing for further consideration when the freeze lifts.

c. send your boss a memo outlining all your successes, and proceed with your promotion campaign undeterred, since rules are made to be broken.

3. Your supervisor always calls you in for a preparatory briefing before big meetings. Usually your best ideas become hers once you enter the conference room. This causes you to:

a. bitch and moan to all your colleagues.

b. plan to share only mediocre suggestions in advance.

c. tell your boss you'll present your ideas in the meeting.

4. An important client has a habit of making impromptu conference calls. Your immediate response is to:

a. drop everything and take the call.

b. talk for a few minutes, and then ask if you can call back.

c. refuse the call and schedule a mutually convenient time to speak later that day.

5. One of your direct reports is shamelessly playing up to your boss at your department's expense. You:

a. ignore it, since anyone can spot a kiss-ass.

b. explain to the employee that his behavior is bad for morale.

c. tell the employee to spend more time working and less time sucking up since his review is imminent.

6. Your company is poised for a radical reorganization. You:

a. feel assured when your boss says your job is safe.

b. start contacting executive recruiters for insurance.

c. ask your boss for a contract.

7. The director of another department is angling to take over your plum account. You decide to:

a. let it go so you're not as overwhelmed.

b. talk to your supervisor about it.

c. confront the director and tell her to back off your turf.

8. When senior executives interrupt you in meetings, you're most likely to:

a. completely hold back your comments.

b. wait till they've done talking, then finish your train of thought.

c. ask that you not be cut off.

9. Your expense report from a company retreat gets returned with a question mark next to a massage. You:

a. decide to pay for it yourself.

b. point to other executives who charge massages to the company.

c. get a doctor's note and resend to Accounts Payable.

10. The chief financial officer wants you to cut one hundred thousand dollars from your already diminished budget. You:

a. do what you have to do.

b. ask your boss to speak to the chief financial officer directly.

c. appeal to the chief financial officer.

Corporate Dominatrix Matrix Scoring

Give yourself one point for every a, two points for every b, and three points for every c.

  • If you got a score of 25 or more, you're highly dominant — an Amazon or a Queen.
  • If you got a score between 15 to 25, you're moderately dominant — a Goddess, Governess, or Nurse.
  • If you got a score between 15 or lower, you're imperceptibly dominant — a seemingly submissive Schoolgirl.

Highly dominant — You realize the importance of clout and a trusty riding crop. As a Queen or Amazon, you're inclined to stand up for yourself and not back away from confrontation. You rise to any challenge with zeal. But be careful, you need to be mindful of authority and not buck management too much. You may still need to develop a discerning mechanism to be a Corporate Dominatrix.

Moderately dominant — You want to have your cake and eat it, too. As the Goddess, Governess, or Nurse, you're trying to strike a balance between doing what's right for yourself, what's right for your company, and what's right for your colleagues. Balancing on a corporate tightrope can be exhilarating, but it can also make you dizzy. Your equilibrium is critical as a Corporate Dominatrix.

Imperceptibly dominant/seemingly submissive — You want to remain in the bosom of the rank and file. As the Schoolgirl, you're making sure you're still the teacher's pet, but that comes with dedication and hard work. Keep in mind that currying favor is okay once in a while, if it's opportunistic, but don't completely rely on it if you want to aspire to Corporate Dominatrix status.

*Note: If you're wondering how men fit in, there are three male types: Kings (highly dominant), Princes (moderately dominant), and Schoolboys (imperceptibly dominant and seemingly submissive). Male dominance and female dominance can coexist in the workplace by sharing power.

THE MANY FACES OF POWER

When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.

— Honoré de Balzac

The American Heritage Dictionary defines power as the ability or capacity to perform effectively. It is also the ability or official capacity to exercise control, authority, and forcefulness. Working women will go farther when they realize that power itself is not a bad or corruptive force. Like anything else, how it is used defines the way in which it is interpreted. Power can be becoming or unbecoming to the user. "For most women, power is a means to an end," says Kay Fittes. "This is a distinct contrast to the belief that men have. Men, more often, see power as the end. Power exists to have power. To embrace power, women must see what good is to come of it. Of all the differences between the sexes regarding power, this stance is the most profound of all." Cultural conditioning can only be blamed for so long; women executives need to take conscious control to break free of the bonds they perceive are holding them back. They can do this through understanding the six mistress archetypes and the influence they exert.

There are different brands of power, just as there are different heights of high heels. The power that most people get stuck on is "position power" — the authority that management wields over their subordinates on an organizational chart. Most employees in the corporate hierarchy get too fixated on rank, and don't realize they have other types of power at their disposal.

The Corporate Dominatrix understands how to use the "power dynamic" or "power trade"; this exchange allows an assistant to be dominant with a supervisor (topping from the bottom), just as a supervisor can be submissive with an assistant (bottoming from the top). Power is a two-way street.

Each one of the six sisters has her own signature type of strength, so remember: You are never defenseless as the Corporate Dominatrix. Here's the basic rundown:

THE GODDESS — Personal Power

THE QUEEN — Position Power

THE GOVERNESS — Expert Power (and Reward Power)

THE AMAZON — Coercive Power

THE NURSE — Healing Power

THE SCHOOLGIRL — Borrowed Power

Power is what power does, so let's define the types for more clarity:

Personal — Your character. The power that comes from feeling in control of yourself and your environment.

Position — Your status. Some measure of power is conferred on the bases of one's formal position in the organization.

Expert — Your knowledge. People who have the experience or expertise can wield tremendous power. It is possible, though, that an incredibly bright person can still feel powerless.

Reward — Your indispensability. People who are able to bestow benefits or perceived benefits hold power. Supervisors or coworkers with the ability to give promotions or even good internal and external public relations are valued.

Coercive — Your stick. This is your ability to use limited force when necessary. It may get results in the short term and be effective in combating unfairness or turf squabbles.

Healing — Your cures. The power used to foster a "healthy" work atmosphere and environment.

Borrowed — Your connections. Power through association; using someone else's power base on "loan" when you need it.

You always have a reserve of power, regardless of your title or level of corporate influence. The Corporate Dominatrix understands how to balance and properly utilize power, no matter what rank she holds or who she's dealing with. As you learn more about the six archetypes, you'll learn how to borrow power when you don't have it, or simply rely on your personal power if that's all you've got. Power comes from outside and within you, so take note and see if there is a specific type of power you seek more than others. And in time I'll show you how each archetype utilizes each kind of power.

When in Corporate Dominatrix mode, you will find the troublesome rival, controlling boss, and irksome colleague more easy to deal with and contain. You are moving toward a world where you'll be calling the shots, so well sometimes that others may not even know it. Let go of any clichéd, S&M preconceptions and open your mind. Become the mistress of your own destiny and career, and don't worry — this doesn't require using a whip . . . unless, of course, you want to!

Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Robyn

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Foreword by M. Louise Ripley

Introduction

CHAPTER ONE: MY BIG FAT SADOMASOCHISTIC WORK LIFE

• Freud for Thought

• Enter the Corporate Dominatrix

• The S&M of the S&P

• Power Becomes You

• Leather and Latex Research

• What Color Is Your Corporate Personality?

CHAPTER TWO: THE SIX SISTERS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU HAD

• Who Are You, Really?

• What's Your Dominance Quotient?

• The Many Faces of Power

CHAPTER THREE: ARCHETYPE ONE: THE GODDESS

• What's Your Earth Mother Mind-set?

• Get in a Goddess State of Mind with Personal Power

• Discipline #1: The Goddess Is Inner Directed

• Rule #1: Face-off with Your Alter Ego

• Discipline #2: The Goddess Has an Altruistic Nature

• Rule #2: No Go on Quid Pro Quo

• Discipline #3: The Goddess Is Centered at All Times

• Rule #3: Practice Creative Distancing

• The Dark Side of the Goddess

CHAPTER FOUR: ARCHETYPE TWO: THE QUEEN

• What's Your Matriarchal Mind-set?

• Get in a Queen State of Mind with Position Power

• Discipline #1: The Queen Rules with a Velvet Glove Instead of an Iron Fist

• Rule #1: Mediate, Don't Dictate!

• Discipline #2: The Queen Is Part Politician and Part Actress

• Rule #2: Image and Attitude Awareness Are Key

• Discipline #3: The Queen Is an Empire Builder

• Rule #3: Keep Your Cards Close to Your Chest

• The Dark Side of the Queen

CHAPTER FIVE: ARCHETYPE THREE: THE GOVERNESS

• What's Your Supervisory Mind-set?

• Get in a Governess State of Mind with Expert and Reward Powers

• Discipline #1: The Governess Is a Multitask Mistress

• Rule #1: Become an Organizational Whiz

• Discipline #2: The Governess Is a Natural Mentor

• Rule #2: Take Someone Under Your Wing

• Discipline #3: The Governess Builds Character and Follows Corporate Etiquette

• Rule #3: Reach Out and Touch Someone

• The Dark Side of the Governess

CHAPTER SIX: ARCHETYPE FOUR: THE AMAZON

• What's Your Mercenary Mind-set?

• Get in an Amazon State of Mind with Coercive Power

• Discipline #1: The Amazon Is Not Deterred by Defeat

• Rule #1: Practice Healthy Fearlessness

• Discipline #2: The Amazon Is Battle Ready

• Rule #2: Make Skill and Preparation Your Weapons of Choice

• Discipline #3: The Amazon Resettles Prisoners of War

• Rule #3: Win the Peace, Not Just the War

• The Dark Side of the Amazon

CHAPTER SEVEN: ARCHETYPE FIVE: THE NURSE

• What's Your Therapeutic Mind-set?

• Get in a Nurse State of Mind with Healing Power

• Discipline #1: The Nurse Has Steady Hands

• Rule #1: Be Reactive, Not Radioactive

• Discipline #2: The Nurse Takes Everybody's Temperature

• Rule #2: Time for the Performance Checkup

• Discipline #3: The Nurse Applies First Aid as Needed

• Rule #3: Take an Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

• The Dark Side of the Nurse

CHAPTER EIGHT: ARCHETYPE SIX: THE SCHOOLGIRL

• What's Your Scholastic Mind-set?

• Get in a Schoolgirl State of Mind with Borrowed Power

• Discipline #1: The Schoolgirl Tops from the Bottom and Bottoms from the Top

• Rule #1: It's Not a Bother, It's a Barter

• Discipline #2: The Schoolgirl Disarms with Charm

• Rule #2: Tap Into Your Inner Child

• Discipline #3: The Schoolgirl Flatters Through Imitation

• Rule #3: Audition for the Understudy

• The Dark Side of the Schoolgirl

CHAPTER NINE: THE CORPORATE DOMINATRIX GOES TO WORK (AND WORKS IT)

• Playing the Hand You're Dealt

• The Corporate Theater of the Absurd

• Stage #1: Establish Your Defining Role

• Stage #2: Role Taking — Choosing the Part You Want to Play

• Stage #3: Role-playing — Lights, Camera, Action

• Role Reversal — Dominance Versus Submission

• Corporate Mind Games, Administrative Fetishes, and Exec-tricities

• The Corporate Dominatrix Self-assessment

• Play It Safe

• Fantasy Realization

• Manifest Your Destiny

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    Fantastic!

    This is a smart, fun and honest look at how to get ahead in today's workplace (oh, and it's really well-written too!).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    We all play a role!

    I completely embraced this concept. Lisa Robyn writes with detail and understanding about the complexities of corporate life. The idea of role playing to achieve goals and recognize problems is extremely powerful. You will learn a lot about yourself and others around you after reading this interesting and highly entertaining book. Get it for everyone in your office!

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