How Black Female TV Bosses Can Teach You What–and What Not–To Do At Work

Viola“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life,” Oscar Wilde once pondered. That said, can we actually learn from television characters, in particular female TV bosses? ??I do believe that we can learn from TV bosses. I think that in each fictional character, there are bits and pieces that are pulled from a person or people that the writer(s) know. The character, even though she is fictional can embody strong characteristics and traits that are both positive and negative. Things that you would want to emulate and things you would want to avoid doing yourself,? Leressa Joiner, founder of Leressa The Life Coach, points out.

Taking a look at some of the Black women bosses on TV, let?s see what experts say we can glean from them

Annalise Keating: ?How to Get Away with Murder?

Not only is Annalise Keating (portrayed by Viola Davis) a tough-as-nails law professor, but she also rules firm with her apprentices in working on real cases for Keating?s private clients. ?I watch ?How to Get Away with Murder? and love the intelligence and determination of Annalise Keating?s character. Here you have a woman who is a college professor with a successful legal practice…On the other hand we also see that Annalise has difficulty with relationships and dealing with her past.? She has insecurities that impact her business and personal relationships.? She also uses deceit and harms others in the process of hiding her mistakes,? says professional counselor/life coach Latrice McNeal. ??Annalise teaches us that intelligence and competence are not enough.? Developing our character and being willing to deal with our mistakes is required to live our best lives.?

Constance Payton: ?State of Affairs?
In the espionage thriller ?State of Affairs,? the country is run by President Constance Payton (played by Alfre Woodard), is the first Black female U.S. president. Payton, a Gulf War veteran, is haunted by the death of her son who was killed by terrorists. ?In State of Affairs Constance Payton is a ?brilliant woman who challenges racial and gender stereotypes.? As a military veteran who rose to the office of President she demonstrates that a woman can be strong, nurturing, and ambitious.? In her role, President Payton makes mistakes and keeps secrets that threaten her reputation and public security,? explains McNeal. ?As women we can learn that anything we attempt to hide will typically come out later.? It doesn?t mean we have to broadcast our dirty laundry but it is best to confront our past instead of attempting to cover it up. The backlash often causes more problems than just handling the issue directly.?

Cookie Lyon: ?Empire?
Make no mistake, Empire?s Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) is a force. Here confidence, commitment, and passion can be admired in a boss, but there is more to Cookie. ?She is a very opinionated woman who was passionate and driven. She definitely had a hustler spirit, which I think is a definite DO! She had a dream and a vision for herself and her family and she was not afraid to do whatever it took to make things happen. She was determined to get her family out the hood by any means necessary,? says Joiner.? As far as things to not do, I would not approve or suggest doing things that are illegal in order to pursue your dreams and goals. I would not suggest putting your kids against one another and all the scheming she did in order to get what she wanted.?

Miranda Bailey: ?Grey?s Anatomy?
Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is a firm believer in tough love. She deals with her staff with a firm but fair hand. ??I love her! She has a heart of gold and really does want the best for herself and for everyone around her. She definitely pushes those around her to be the best that they can be,? notes Joiner. ?She is a good mix of cheerleader, life coach, devil’s advocate and antagonist when necessary. The only thing that I could say as far as things to NOT do would be to not get as personally involved with her employees and co-workers. I think it blurs the line which can make work relations more difficult.?