Bossiness vs Leadership: Why They Don’t Equate
“I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy, to be told instead she has leadership skills,” said Sheryl Sandberg. I say no to this. There is a distinct difference between being bossy and having leadership skills. That difference is this: if a little girl is friends with a bossy girl, that little girl has her feelings hurt a lot because the bossy friend always dictates everything. That is not a display of good leadership skills. Good leadership is taking account of what all people want and making an informed decision based upon that information.
I had a bossy friend when I was in elementary school. I was horrible at saying what I wanted especially around her, I felt like I could never say no to this girl because she always got what she wanted, and if she didn’t, she was persistent in a negative way. This girl was an only child, which I suspect had quite a bit to do with her bossiness. (Which isn’t to say that all only children are bossy, merely that it’s a common trait of only and eldest children alike.) If this friend had good leadership skills, she wouldn’t have made me or any of our other friends feel badly on numerous occasions. Leadership skills aren’t about what’s best for one person (i.e. yourself), it’s about what will benefit a group as a whole. To make that decision, and to make it based upon information provided by the group, is the trait of a leader. To make a decision solely for yourself without thought as to what others might prefer and forcing them to go along with said decision is bossiness.
For these reasons, I cringe when I see the above quote. Why would we teach little girls that it’s okay to make people feel poorly about themselves and to belittle the ideas of others merely because we believe ourselves and our ideas superior? Would that not make life more difficult for this girl later down the road? If we teach little girls that it’s okay to be bossy, they’ll be called far worse things in adulthood than bossy in childhood. To be called a “bitch” in high school hurts worse than being called “bossy” in elementary school. I propose that we teach our children, boys and girls alike, the difference between being a leader and being bossy. How being bossy can lead to more hurt feelings and broken friendships than being a good leader can. It’s up to us to mold our children and teach them how to transform their bossy tendencies into profitable skills for the future instead of teaching them it’s okay to hurt others for personal gain.