The Velvet Hammer: PowHERful Leadership Lessons for Women Who Don't Golf


150 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-9739065-0-2
DDC 658.4'092'082




Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


Elaine Allison is a professional speaker. The management lessons
featured in this, her first book, are illustrated with stories from her
professional life, which has included working (at the tender age of 19)
as one of the first female prison guards in an all-male, maximum
security prison and serving as a manager of one of Canada’s largest

Wielding a velvet hammer means leading with grace and eloquence.
Allison opens the book with a discussion of how women and men differ due
to hormones, brain structure, and cultural expectations. She also
explains why men are more comfortable focusing on one task at a time
while women are natural multi-taskers. Celebrating gender differences is
the first of 25 velvet hammer techniques illustrated in the book, which
also contains a series of leadership self-assessment exercises
(including a skills-gap analysis, a manager’s team appraisal form, a
situational analysis of gender scenarios, and a personality profile

Allison guides readers through the typical challenges that managers
face, such as how to delegate, set budgets, manage conflict, and provide
clear, progressive discipline that will stand up in a court of law. She
is not afraid of sharing her blunders and the strategies that she
developed as a result.

Allison points out that most management books are written by men with
an unacknowledged male audience in mind. Her female-centred perspective
is a refreshing addition to the field.


Allison, Elaine., “The Velvet Hammer: PowHERful Leadership Lessons for Women Who Don't Golf,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,