Day 476: The Thing About Bossy

As a girl who was called bossy more than once growing up, I really appreciate the new #BanBossy campaign. Especially because there are still lots of discrepancies between how boys and girls think about themselves and their capabilities.

But one of the things I learned from Girl Scouts (as an adult… when I worked there) is that leadership takes many, many forms. And not all of them are loud. Something about the Bossy Conversation rubs me slightly the wrong way, because it implies that a girl has to be aggressive and assertive in order to be a leader.

Mind you, I was an aggressive and assertive little kid. I loved (LOVED) rules. I derived great pleasure from flexing my imagination within a set structure, and – um – inviting others to do the same. And I remain that way as an adult. As a producer in an agency full of lots of leaders, thinkers and dreamers, it’s part of my role to try and make the creative stuff happen – within the boundaries of budgets, deadlines, corporate legal departments and competing priorities.

But the quiet girls are leaders too. So are the quiet women. I’ve watched female colleagues gently guide conversations and processes in ways that shout leadership. While my method might be to speak up, wrangle, whiteboard and reality-check, the quiet ones observe, listen and ask questions that ultimately help the group land on the right decision. They’re respected and effective – two telltale marks of good leadership.

I do stand behind the anti-Bossy stuff, as it’s all about helping assertive girls maintain their confidence through the sometimes-painful process of becoming adults. But I’d like to tell those beautiful bossy girls that sometimes it’s okay to not feel responsible for everyone and everything around you. And to the quiet girls who are being called shy instead of bossy – I hope you know that it’s okay to raise your voice above the din when you feel strongly about something.

As for me, I continue to work on relaxing my grip on the rules now and then, and to soften my voice when someone else needs the mic.

So. Here’s to the leaders, no matter how loud they are.

Bossy girl

Me, likely experiencing a post-bossy high.