Bossypants: Leadership Lessons from Tina Fey

Posted 04.25.2011

Book-bossypants I did something this past weekend that I rarely do. I read a business book all the way through. (You see, the dirty little secret about most business books is you can get the meat from them with a heavy skim in an hour or less.)

Of course, having read the title of this post, you may be surprised to learn that Tina Fey wrote a business book. Bossypants is a lot more than a business book.  It’s a memoir of how a working class Greek American girl from the Philadelphia suburbs grew up to be a really powerful person in the TV and movie business. It’s about how she overcame sexism in the comedy business and how she seeks to strike the balance between the joys of being really great at her work and the joys of being a mom, spouse, daughter, friend, family member, etc. It’s also about what she learned at high school drama camp, what she learned on her honeymoon cruise and how she learned to do her Sarah Palin impression.

If you like Tina Fey’s brand of intelligent, snarky, slightly off center humor (I do), and if you’re interested in what a successful woman has learned about leadership, you’ll like Bossypants and likely laugh out loud as you read it. If you’re offended by occasional profanities and body part references, it may not be your cup of tea.

Either way, there are some important leadership lessons from Tina Fey in Bossypants. Here are a few that stood out for me:

  •  “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way… Contrary to what I believed as a little girl, being the boss almost never involves marching around, waving your arms, and chanting, ‘I am the boss! I am the boss!’”
  • “… there is not one management course in the world where they recommend Self-Righteousness as a tool.”
  • "So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’  If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing the work and outpacing people that way. Then when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

I could go on with quotes, but if you like Tina Fey or are interested in learning from a smart woman who’s figured out how to succeed in a shark tank and still maintain her soul, you should spend fourteen bucks to  buy  it and read Bossypants. You’ll learn a lot and likely laugh a lot.  How many business books can you say that about?