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What Rebekah Brooks can teach us about power - Fortune

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So, the next time you read about a study showing that anger or being demanding penalizes women, look at the details. If the study participants faced no real consequences for their choices, of course they preferred more likeable and less role-discrepant behavior.

It's not that important to be nice.

Profiles of Brooks, who rose from being a secretary to one of the most powerful people in British journalism, invariably mention her toughness, willingness to bend if not break the rules, her networking ability, her capacity to manage up, and her combination of “charm, effrontery, audacity, and tenacity.” She displays confidence and is not afraid to use profanity and exact revenge against those who cross her. In short, she seems to behave in ways that defy common stereotypes about women.

Brooks sounds a lot like Martha Stewart, who bounced back from an insider trading conviction to become one of the hottest selling brands, pursued by both J. C. Penney and Macys. Stewart, who is often described as “cold and distant,” also eschews attempts to be likeable and is notoriously hard on her employees. She, like Brooks, is said to have enormous self-confidence and “provides a refreshingly clear path to success: work hard, know your value, and have enough confidence in your work and value to keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like you.”

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