As a kid I was called bossy whilst the boys in the playground were “leaders”. Remember that TV character "Bossy Bella from the Tweenies? Yeah, I always had to play her too. The most obnoxious character who no one liked and wasn't sweet and girly like her friend "Fizz". It never felt good being called that and experiences like that made me hesitant to speak up growing up. It’s still not a social norm everywhere for women to lead, and when we do we are often disliked, and labelled bossy, because we don’t meet stereotypical expectations of women. There seems to be some mutual exclusivity between the being a female leader and being seen as warm, friendly and kind in our society. I see it everyday in the way people respond to the women around me who are absolutely killing it, running teams and companies. It's just assumed they're all arseholes because they're doing well, where as those who don't lead are seen as humble and sweet.
A brief dictionary description of "Bossy": fond of giving people orders; domineering.
synonyms: domineering, dominating, overbearing, imperious, masterful, autocratic, autarchic, officious, high-handed, high and mighty, authoritarian, dictatorial, strict, harsh, severe, iron-handed, controlling, despotic, tyrannical, draconian, oppressive, subjugating, undemocratic, anti-democratic.
Not exactly a wonderful picture that the word paints is it? (Although let's take a moment to consider the difference in the mental image we have if a man was "fond of giving orders" now shall we?) Now don't get me wrong - there is never an excuse for being rude to people. I'm not excusing bad behaviour, that is not the message we're sending here. The problem with the use of the word is that it’s no longer used to solely describe someone who is harsh and authoritative. It’s used to describe any woman who is leading, regardless of how kind, open or warm she is. Women who take charge are called bossy, no matter how nice they are. The danger here is when we start to hold ourselves back for fear of being labeled bossy or for fear of being disliked for pushing for more. If the responses to Motivation Monday have taught me one thing this year, it's that we all hold ourselves back, especially in our career. We doubt ourselves and worry about what other people will think if we dare ask for more.
So this year I decided to take "bossy" back. Don’t loose your voice, don’t take a back seat and don’t dull your fire for fear of being called bossy by anyone. Use your voice, believe in yourself, dream hard and work like a boss. Stay Bossy.