Sheryl Sandberg and Lifetime recruited Beyonce, Condoleezza Rice, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jane Lynch and other notable women for the “Ban Bossy” campaign, which calls for a ban on the word using the hashtag #banbossy on social media. The theory behind the movement is that whenever little girls display traits that may be seen as assertive or aggressive, they get labeled as being bossy while little boys, when displaying the same behavior, are encouraged to continue behaving that way.
I don’t agree with this campaign because I think there’s a difference between bossiness and leadership, but check out the video before I explain:
I agree with encouraging leadership skills in girls and teaching them to approach power by relying on smarts and strategy over beauty however, my life experiences have taught me that being bossy is different from being a leader. When I was growing up, “bossy” wasn’t gender specific. It was applied to people who displayed rude and tyrannical behavior.
My mother and the adults around me always encouraged me to be positive, respectful to other human beings, and to pursue my goals, instilling the attitudes that I could do what I put my mind to and that I shouldn’t allow other people to make me feel inferior no matter what messages society attempted to send. I believed them and lived my life according to those lessons. I’ve been told that I had good leadership skills and never got referred to as bossy–throughout various phases in my life–because I was taught how to communicate with people properly.
In my life’s journey thus far, I have noticed and also encountered people in charge (male and female)–who were considered bossy–displaying deplorable behavior including rudeness, and generally being disrespectful, nasty human beings, which breeds resentment toward them. Typically, these types of people are under the false assumption that others are intimidated by them because they “speak their minds” or because they’re “stubborn” when in reality, people just don’t like them or get turned off because they don’t know how to treat people.
Here is my point illustrated:
Bosses tend to be on an ego trip and extremely insecure while leaders remain humble and set positive examples, yet also know how to be firm and authoritative without belittling people and that’s what we should be teaching all of our children, especially girls. I have worked in various media environments since 2005 (starting with public relations) and out of the many “bosses” that I’ve had, only an small minority weren’t disrespectful towards their employees, and really knew how to lead effectively (as in, without making people feel small). The rest have left foul memories in my psyche. What I’ve learned about people in charge who seem dynamic and like you could learn a lot from, is that many of them have gotten by, by using control, humiliation, manipulation and…being bossy, because as a society, we have confused what it means to be aggressive with a negative impact on people versus being a go-getter with positive results, and that’s where I’d like to concentrate my focus.
If I had a daughter, I’d teach her that she should be stubborn in the right battles and collaborate with other opinions within reason, but not bullheaded; and when it comes to being bossy she should forget about that fad concept and work on developing leadership skills that will yield positive, effective and long lasting results.