Recently a new campaign has been launched to “Ban Bossy“.
“Sandberg — the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling book “Lean In” — is spearheading the launch of a campaign today to ban the word “bossy,” arguing the negative put-down stops girls from pursuing leadership roles.
“We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead,” Sandberg said, “and if you ask girls why they don’t want to lead, whether it’s the school project all the way on to running for office, they don’t want to be called bossy, and they don’t want to be disliked.” “
While I understand and applaud the concept, it isn’t going to work like they think.
First, we have to understand what leadership is. From Dictionary.com:
1. the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: He managed to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.
2. ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkable leadership potential. Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness; sway, clout.
3. an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction: They prospered under his strong leadership.
4. the leaders of a group: The union leadership agreed to arbitrate.
And here is the main issue. Outside of dictators and tyrants (which are “bossy” to be sure) leadership is a privilege that is earned. Leaders inspire people to follow them. It is a value we bring to others. We (leaders) use charisma, confidence and a sense of finishing a task that is both, better for the follower and better for the leader, to get things done. This is a true win-win scenario.
And if the leader fails, they take responsibility for the entire group. It is their personal failure – not that of the group. I honestly don’t know many men or women like this, but that is the mark of an inspiring leader.
If you are a boss that tells people what to do without listening to how organization or projects impact your staff’s lives you are “bossy”. Do this too heavy handed and you are the hated and despised boss.
I am all for empowering women, and I want them to have equal rights (hell, I would love to have equal rights), but just telling people not to use the word “bossy” is incredibly naive.
“We call girls bossy on the playground,” Sandberg said. “We call them too aggressive or other B-words in the workplace. They’re bossy as little girls, and then they’re aggressive, political, shrill, too ambitious as women.”
Yep, and we call a male that does this an ass or a bully. Just telling people what to do IS being bossy if you are a girl, which is usually accompanied by some sort of shame language to force male compliance. If you are physically bigger and a male willing to use force you are a bully.
“And the teacher walks into this classroom and says: ‘Boys and girls, I have this really hard, difficult program that I need to solve that’s gonna impact this country.’ She writes the problem on the board and then turns around and escorts 24 of the 25 girls out of the room. … She leaves one girl and 25 boys to solve that equation. That’s what’s happening every day in this country. Why wouldn’t we want more girls to be opting in to building the right solutions this country.”
I have a 13 year old son whom I am very focused on. This is complete bullshit and never happens. For the most part teachers try to be fair, or they will pair up weaker students with stronger students. I have never even heard of a teacher removing a female from solving a problem. Actually, I had always heard girls were better in school and more involved.
But that still doesn’t matter. If the girl has an idea that is better for the entire group, and then can communicate that idea so the entire group will look better she will be the leader. It happens at my work, at my sons school and especially with friends.
So why don’t we focus on developing those characteristics that are more typical of leaders? Namely confidence, accountability, logic and passion. Note I don’t have emotional anywhere in that. A passionate vision that inspires does not mean using emotional manipulation to get everyone on the same page.
Every time we give a special program to a girl and not a boy you are teaching her to not be accountable for her success. Every time we lower the standards so a woman can attempt to compete with a man we erode her confidence (by giving her a head start) and erase accountability. She didn’t have to compete on a level playing field which means she didn’t truly win. And subconsciously, in the back of our mind, everyone who gets an advantage to compete knows this.
It has gotten to where we don’t even keep score in sports for men or women – which is a huge part of self development. If you don’t know that you lost, you don’t know how you failed and you will never push yourself to do better. “Fail early and fail often” as the motto goes from the classic book “Good to Great.” That is the heart of a leader.
As a side note, I see many more women using this tactic of telling girls they are bossy than ever from men. When I have been at parties and a little girl is telling everyone what to do and how to play it is her MOTHER that comes over and tells her to stop being “bossy”, not her father. For the most part the boys simply ignore her.
I have said it many times. If you tell me what to do, I will likely not comply. Man or woman. I don’t take orders. However, inspire me. Communicate with me so I see how your idea is a benefit to you and ME – and I will follow. That is leadership and I would expect someone in these ladies roles to see that. Actually, I am disheartened they don’t.
Personally I think this will be used to punish boys (similar to primary aggressor laws against men) more than it ever will build a girls healthy self-esteem. Protecting girls from the truth of their consequences for being selfish isn’t going to promote more women leaders. It will, however, promote more entitled women who do not believe they should have to learn specific skills to be a business leader and everyone should just follow them because they said so.
When you become the type of man that can calmly tell a woman “no” when she is telling you what to do, you will become the man women want. As for me, just telling me what to do is “bossy”. And I promise to call you “bossy” and not do what you want every single time.