As the oldest of three kids, I’ve done my fair share of bossing around, whether it was telling my sister the correct way to play Barbies with me or making the executive decision of what movie to watch despite everyone else’s opinion. My parents and siblings, like this dad, would tell me to stop being bossy, because that’s exactly how I was behaving. Did it stifle my leadership abilities? No. In fact—it did quite the opposite.
The #BanBossy campaign has received as much criticism as it has praise lately. Women from Beyonce to Condoleezza Rice have joined the fight to help #BanBossy because “Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up.”
No—words like “bossy” are used to describe someone who is being…bossy. No one likes to be friends or work with someone who is bossy. In fact, a recent study from Pershing (client) shows that Americans prefer a more collaborative style of leadership—and 70 percent of people associate that leadership quality with women.
Furthermore, Google Definitions shows that synonyms for “bossy” include: overbearing, tyrannous, despotic, masterful, domineering, authoritative, and dictatorial. Synonyms for “leader” include: chief, innovator, trendsetter, pathfinder, and pioneer. According to this, the two are not completely interchangeable. You CAN lead without being bossy.
Being told that I was being bossy at a young age helped me gain self-awareness and to develop a style of leadership that respects and considers others’ opinions. Just because a word does not have a complimentary connotation, it does not mean that it should be “banned” from our vocabulary. As a woman who is striving to create my own path of leadership in my career, I fully support the intentions of this campaign to help young girls take initiative. However, I believe that their way of going about it is misguided.