“I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In
My otherwise amazing 8 year old daughter is, well, bossy. Playdates come to a screeching halt when her friend (or brother) complains, “She’s telling everyone what to do and when she doesn’t get her way she just yells!” She’s creative, talented, and oh-so funny, but when the group wants to do one thing, and she wants to do another, she loses it. We’ve been working on better leadership skills. Being a leader doesn’t involve talking down to people. She is finding out first-hand that in group situations, you usually get more flies with honey than vinegar. Bossy never worked for me (I tried). And, we tend not to like it in others. I love Lean In and its message to girls about empowerment. But I have the opposite view on encouraging “bossy” in girls (or boys). When I think about the great bosses I’ve had (male and female), bossy is never is at the top of the list. The most effective male bosses I’ve had possess the traits I admire in dads: no-nonsense, fair, honest, charismatic. The most effective female bosses I’ve encountered have the traits I admire in good moms: strong, empathetic, nurturing, motivating. My daughter will do great in life, but the reality is she will be working for someone long before she’s a boss or a mom. I’d rather teach her to lead by example.