Clearly, Sheryl Sandberg was worried that her fifteen minutes of fame were up. So, she created another phrase to stir up more controversy for women. Not only are females supposed to “lean in,” but now, we have to “ban bossy.” Sandberg takes her her role of asserting her mindsets and issues on all women quite seriously. Despite Sandberg’s orders to females in the workplace, currently, only a little over four percent of the Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by women. Yet,  women are in leadership positions at 50 percent of the largest firms in the defense industry.


Perhaps some have have subscribed to Sandberg’s advice to lean in. Representative Kay Granger discusses the dedication Della Williams of Williams Pyro had in growing her company. Williams pulled a page out of Marissa Mayers’ book and returned to work four days after the birth of her third child without all the media outrage. While some women have put in the hours and extra effort in a push to get to the top, others have capitalized on their female strengths, such as problem-solving and listening skills. A noticeable trend among top female executives at Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and BAE is a sense of ownership of failures and success, as well as a willingness to step up to opportunities and challenges. Regardless of gender, magic can happen when egos are checked at the door, sleeves are rolled up and leaders approach problems with honesty and authenticity.


Recruiters have two dilemmas – the need to recruit a diverse workforce and the need to be impartial to race, gender and ethnicity in their hiring practices. Personality matters in the workplace, and a further focus on soft skills when hiring may help female candidates shine. It may be surprising, but picking the candidates that self-promote may not be a move that necessarily pays off. In the shaky financial times for the defense industry, team players and visionary leaders are essential. Regardless of gender, candidates who listen to client expectations and needs and work well with teams to execute are an invaluable asset. Individuals who take responsibility are critical as well. Nothing drains a team more than a leader who continually finds ways to shift the blame. Perhaps the money question when it comes to vetting out an arrogant applicant versus an assertive one is the one candidates often hate the most – describing a situation where they failed, or where they had to trouble-shoot a problem. A candidate who instantly blames his or her boss or co-workers is likely not your best choice. A candidate who is willing to admit to a failure and describe how he or she grew from it may be the better fit. So, no need to be worried about the B-word…bossy. An assertive female could be an asset to the leadership team, but it cannot be her only asset. In order to survive downsizing and restructuring, defense organizations need leaders who work well with others and good at optimizing personal strengths in support of the organizational goals.




If you only use broadcast messages to reach out to candidates, you’re missing out on the personal touch offered by the Cleared Network. Sending individual messages to your top candidates is a great way to stay in touch and vet out the soft skills that make a person a long-term hire. Discuss recent events and programs within your company, as well as following up on where the candidate is at in her or her career. will archive the messages, meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering the detail of every discussion – we’ll do it for you!

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.