The Middle (Wo)man Tug of War: Tips to Thrive on your Climb to Becoming the Ultimate Girl Boss

We love empowered women that seek out opportunities and take on new challenges. If this is you, one of your ambitions may be to become a girl boss one day, giving direction and being a leader instead of taking direction from someone else. On your way there, you will probably have to be a middle manager. These positions, although a step in the right direction, can be very challenging. Here are a few tips to help you thrive. 

You made it! You’re a step closer to being at the top of the top. At least, that’s how I felt when I went from being a general executive towards being Vice-president of my university club, and when I went from being a new employee towards being a supervisor at work. 

I’m almost there. 

I was ready to step up my game, take on some leadership and prove to myself that soon enough I could be the girl boss at the very tippy top. Although I’ve learned a lot from these middle woman positions -because middleman is a patriarchal term I don’t vibe with-, it definitely came with a lot of curveballs and challenges I did not expect. 

If -and when- you find yourself in this middle manager position, here are a few tips to help you battle through this middle, sometimes awkward, messy and wonderful stage on your way to becoming the top girl boss. 

Women mentoring another women Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

1) Accept that most things are out of your control.

You might think, like I did, that being the middle manager means you have more decision-making power than you did in a lower level position. You’re one step closer to reaching the top, where you have freedom to put all your words into actions. The biggest lesson I have learned is that being the middle manager means your main job is to communicate between the people above you and those below you, focusing on their desires. What this means in practice is that you do a lot more listening and putting out fires than you do working on projects and ambitions of your own. You probably had more decision-making power in a lower-level position. 

This can be discouraging sometimes, which is where my second tip comes in. 

2) Choose your battles.

It’s going to be your job to put out fires, stand up for people, take orders you may not agree with and have your ideas shot down. This can get exhausting. If you’re going to make it all the way up your girl boss ladder, you have to save your energy. Focus on persevering with what matters the most to you.  Learn to delegate tasks and trust your coworkers. Everyone has something to contribute and you’re going to need all your people to get things done. Learn to delegate tasks and trust your coworkers. 

3) Stop people-pleasing.

You will never be able to please everyone, no one can, and you shouldn’t have to. That’s not your job. Don’t feel guilty about it. NO BUTS. 

woman holding white mug while standing Brooke Lark/Unsplash

4) It’s okay to feel lonely.

When you’re in between the people you report to and the people doing the work on the ground, sometimes you’re going to be the person that problems get dumped on. You get the complaints, you’re expected to find the solutions, and most things are out of your control. You’re neither with the people on the top nor the people below you, it can be lonely. That’s okay, it doesn’t mean you’re doing your job wrong. On the contrary, it probably means you’re making hard choices. 

5) Remember why you’re here.

Climbing that ambitious ladder to becoming the ultimate badass girl boss means you’re going to have some challenging moments. It will probably be more stressful than the positions you’ve experienced before. On those days, don’t give up. Remember everything you’ve done to get here and all the places you want to go. You deserve to be here. 

6) Stay true to yourself.

The inevitable outcomes of being the middle woman is that you will have challenging days, you will never be able to please everyone, and you can get lonely and frustrated over the things that are out of your control. It can be tempting to bend your values, change yourself in an attempt to be everyone’s friend, to keep everyone above and below you happy. I promise you, if you stay true to yourself you will be the best middle woman you can be. Trust your instincts and believe in yourself!

You got this.