Yes, Sheryl Sandberg’s “ban bossy” campaign is falling short. It’s hard to ban anything these days. And with the focus on female empowerment and mentoring for success what’s wrong with being a little bossy as long as it’s not in a nasty, demeaning and hurtful way. It’s a hell of a lot better than being wishy-washy and not making decisions or standing up for one’s self.
I remember some of my early business lessons from my first boss. Right or wrong they’ve been stuck in my head and could be construed as lessons in being “boss-y.” He told me women are notorious for not making decisions. “Don’t be like them.” Make a decision and if you’re right–great. And if you’re wrong apologize,” he drilled into my head. He would also listen in on my phone calls with vendors and afterwards tell me I wasn’t strong enough in my asking. He was a tough taskmaster who made me stronger businessperson.
Banning the word “bossy” it isn’t going to make any of the changes that are needed. In my book, it’s like “lean in”. Where is that going to get women? We don’t need to lean in we need to “band together” to make change. But that’s not as sexy and doesn’t have the power to garner press and sell books. We need to embrace our inner boss-y and use it for change.
Start a women’s mentor group at your office.
Help your fellow female co-workers learn and grow from your experience.
Band together to change an issue in the workplace.
Consensus presented with sound logic usually works.
Banning a word does nothing. People will use another word.
Mara Shapiro, of Brazen Woman, agreed with me and said, “I think that all of these initiatives ‘ban bossy’ or ‘lean in’ are great for starting conversation but they don’t address the core issue which is that men and women communicate differently. And while women have accepted and adapted to men’s communication style, men have not adapted to women’s. It’s not the word bossy, but perception and reaction. Let’s face it. Some people are bossy-men and women. Eradicating a word won’t eradicate a problem.”