When my blog friends created This is Bossy, I thought yes, I have something to say about this.
This whole ban bossy business is kind of weird to me. Have you heard about this campaign, the latest from the Lean In Lady? She feels that girls are discouraged from being leaders when they assert themselves because someone calls them “bossy.” And being “branded bossy” discourages them from pursuing more leadership roles.
I love the concept of course – encourage young women to be leaders – but I have to say, I find the conclusion that being “branded bossy” is way off the mark.
First, can someone answer me: do kids have to worry about branding in middle school now? Yikes.
I don’t have a daughter but I am a daughter and truthfully: never once have I felt left behind as a woman. Maybe it has something to do with my own mother, who is my role model, and she always told me I could achieve whatever I wanted and never made gender an issue. This campaign just seems like a stretch, and that the real issue is confidence. Also, I don’t understand why this campaign isn’t something positive. Why go negative and blame one word on the issue? I like the cause, but I don’t think the word “bossy” is the problem. Why not a “go girl go” message instead?
My mother is wise, an overachiever who was one of 4 women students at WVU Law when she graduated in the early 70s, and is now running for Congress. One day, I complained about the mom guilt I felt because I go to work instead of stay at home with my child, and instead of getting the sympathetic response I was fishing for, I got this instead: “When I was your age, we didn’t think about it – we just did it. Your generation thinks too much.” I hate it when she’s right. But she is right: we are so over-analytical about everything – why in the world are we now analyzing the word bossy, like that is the problem? That shouldn’t be the message. It’s clever and I love alliteration and it has a hashtag… but again, why isn’t it a positive message?
I’m going to get really controversial here, and I don’t think I have every typed a curse word on this blog, but (deep breath) here goes:
Be bossy, not bitchy.
Yikes! I typed it! How daring of me.
There is a big difference, right? I don’t think I need to establish a distinction between the two b’s, do I?
It’s my observation that being bitchy usually stems from insecurity — and being bossy comes from confidence.
We need to teach girls how to be effective leaders – and that to lead, they need to be bossy without being bitchy. They need confidence.
I’ve had incredible female bosses that are role models and a terrible one that nearly crumbled my spirit, so I feel I am well qualified to make the distinction since I’ve had both ends of the spectrum.
In my experience? This is bossy:
- Articulating an opinion.
- Getting things done.
- Not being indecisive or over analytical.
- Being diplomatic.
- Knowing the difference between asking and demanding: humans like to give consent, it’s in our nature.
- Collaborating: getting others’ opinions before making the final decision.
- Doing it yourself if you want something done exactly your way. If you want to build a team, letting others contribute in their own way.
- Being tolerant of flaws but intolerant to bad intentions.
- Assessing someone’s intentions: if the person intends their actions to cause hurt, stand up for what is right. If the person makes an honest mistake, address the issue without attacking the individual.
- Taking the time to praise.
- Taking the blame.
- Never forgetting that respect is earned.
These are the actions of confident leaders. We don’t need to ban bossy, we just need to instill confidence and encourage leadership.
Talk to me.
What do you think bossy is? How do you think we instill leadership qualities in girls?
Join the conversation over at This is Bossy.