Ban Bossy


Go ahead, do it.  You should ban “bossy” because there is no reason to be nicer to women than to men.  It’s said with kid gloves.  A woman who is being disrespectful deserves the same criticism of her male counterparts without pulling any punches on account of her gender.

Women can be arrogant, narcissistic, controlling, disrespectful and domineering just like men.  Don’t call them bossy.  Call them douche-bags.

High level leadership has much more to do with creating and managing relationships than it does with forcefully getting your way.  Aren’t those supposed to be traditional female qualities?  Ask the female CEO of General Dynamics, not Beyonce.  

If this bothers you, do a search for “leadership traits” and compare how much more often traits like humility and communication are used than assertiveness and boldness.  Hell, just THINK about what you are saying.  Do you really admire assertiveness in others?  Can you even tell the difference between assertiveness and controlling behavior born from transparent personal insecurity?  Think about the real world, not movies.  Don’t you actually admire people who are encouraging and contribute value rather than throw their weight around?

Some of the great leadership qualities seem more feminine than masculine.  But nothing will ruin your credibility as a leader faster than expecting unearned special treatment or taking task-oriented disagreements personally. As a leader, you will often be blamed for things well beyond your control and have to deal with people who take personal offense when you are trying to be objective.  You have to eat a shit sandwich on a regular basis.  If you take and express offense at peoples reactions, you are controlling.  

If more than one person in your life has told you that you are bossy then you are bossy.  This goes for men and women for any negative quality.   And if you respond with accusations of sexism, you’re also defensive.  As Marshall Goldsmith notes, people usually don’t tell you the truth about your negative qualities out of shame and fear of confrontation.  Great leaders learn from people’s criticism. You have just as much right as a man to maintain these qualities.  They may take you far, but not as far as cultivating communication skills and actual leadership traits.

So ban bossy.  Stop being so nice, women can handle criticism.  Tell them when they are being unprofessional jerks.  And if someone calls you bossy, show them how much of a leader you are by having a conversation with them about what they meant. Disrespect can become an endless carousel of blame.  Leaders know how to get off the ride.