Queen Bees are women in the workplace that treat colleagues in a demoralising, undermining or bullying manner. Queen Bees will remind you of the mean girls in school, but now they have grown up and are more calculating. Queen Bee Syndrome can be the biggest hindrance to women advancing in the workplace because these women will often lack the sponsorship or support necessary to get promoted due to their negative behaviour. Queen Bees should NOT be confused with a strong, ambitious women in the workplace (which we applaud). No one wants to work for Queen Bees since they usually destroy a happy work environment and can negatively impact colleagues’ careers. However, one can identify and avoid the sting of the Queen Bee. Here’s a list of characteristics that describes the Queen Bee:

  • Takes
    Credit vs. Giving Credit:

    Claims others ideas as her own and rarely gives credit to team members.
  • Polarising

    Many dread the moment she walks into the office.
  • Doesn’t
    Sponsor Colleagues:

    Fails to put you forward for a well-deserved promotion, making sure you
    don’t get that interesting project or neglecting to invite you to a
    meeting that could help you get noticed in the organisation. Think of The
    Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly betrays Stanley
    Tucci’s Nigel Kipling.
  • Doesn’t
    Support Other Women:
    view other women as competition. Panders to the men in her team and the
    women often feel neglected
  • Lacks

    Always interested in finding out about your personal life, but she rarely
    tells you anything that hints at her vulnerability
  • Overly
    be openly aggressive to the point of bullying but if challenged she’ll
    claim she’s only being assertive, or that your behaviour deserves harsh
  • Negative
    and Devious:
    communication can be both charming and snide at the same time, and she’ll
    drag you down with one backhanded remark that will sting for days. Will
    talk about you negatively, even to the point of spreading malicious

Removing the Sting of the Queen Bee:

Obviously, not every Queen Bee will display all of the above, but if you have observed and experienced some of these behaviours you may well be working with a Queen Bee. The question is, what can you do about it?

  • Develop

    Sign up for training courses that allow you to improve your industry
    knowledge and skill set
  • Expand
    Your Network:

    Join professional networks at your company and within your industry
  • Find
    strong professional relationships with senior decision makers in your
    organisation. Why You Need A Sponsor Not A Mentor
  • Do
    Not React When Provoked:

    Queen Bees love to push your buttons and get a reaction. Remain calm. Do
    not show emotion. Always be polite and do not engage in gossip or petty
    talk. Use your energy to develop yourself and expand your network.

Breaking the Cycle of Queen Bee Syndrome:

What if you are reading this and wondering if you are a Queen Bee? Recognising Queen Bee Syndrome is the first step to addressing the problem. Queen Bee Syndrome often stems from personal insecurities that magnify in a work environment or one may be copying bad behaviour learned from previous bosses. Here are some ways to break the cycle of Queen Bee Syndrome:

  1. Solicit
    360-Degree Feedback:
    team members who are peers, superiors and junior for anonymous feedback.
    The feedback will provide insight about how others perceive your
    behaviour. People are more likely to give honest feedback if it can be
    provided anonymously to an unbiased 3rd party (e.g. Your boss, Human
  2. Take
    a Leadership Training Course:

    Attend a leadership course that will help you refine your leadership
    skills and address behaviours that can negatively impact your career
  3. Get
    a Career Coach:
    career coach can be a great investment to help you address specific areas
    requiring improvement and set goals to achieve your career
    objectives. A career coach is like getting a personal trainer for your
  4. Show
    Genuine Interest in Your Team Members:
    Take some time to get to know your team and also let them know
    more about you. This is a great way to develop strong professional
    relationships and form allies. Can you help them with any professional
  5. Support
    Other Women:

    Make a commitment to help advance other woman in the workplace. Join and
    actively participate in female professional networks. There is nothing
    more rewarding than to celebrate another woman’s success.