no one likes a bossy pants!
She wrote it in my high school yearbook:
“You’re a great person, but a bit bossy sometimes.”
Not, great leader, good visionary, team player?
None, of that, but bossy.
Being Latin American, I come from a long line of strong, determined, and sassy women. They are bold, passionate, feisty and all the while just a little bit cheeky. It’s not uncommon for the women in my family to loudly take charge without any fear whatsoever of people’s opinions about them.
It’s just what you do – get the job done, lead strongly, serve others, and laugh along the way – without considering your gender as some sort of restriction.
Why do women get called bossy when they’re leading the pack?
I’m not here to cry “sexism” at the top of my lungs hoping that my high operatic scream will smash some sort of glass ceiling. Hardly. Because to be honest with you I am a bossy pants sometimes – selfishly opinionated, demanding… all those things that we make us imperfect leaders and imperfect people.
While I don’t often hear this term being used for male leaders, that’s not really the point I’m trying to make – being called bossy isn’t cool and it’s not something I rejoice over. And yes, it sucks that women get this label where men get labels such as strong etc. But the label did make me stop, look at my leadership style, and refine it.
Ok, that’s not entirely true.
Before I maturely reflected upon it I shrunk away, avoided people, became a people pleaser and was constantly worried that if anyone got any whiff of leadership from me they would brand me bossy…
… But back to the part where I’m being sassy and strong (because that makes a far better story than the sad mess that was me crying over being called the B-word).
Here’s what I learnt:
There’s a very fine line between being bossy and being a leader. Leaders are in many ways, the boss. They lead the team, they provide the direction, they make the tough calls and they take responsibility. Nothing wrong with that.
“’Bossy’ is someone who bosses people around without reason.”
“Bossiness” has this connotation that implies one is more like that annoying six year old who demands that you pour the imaginary tea a certain way for the teddy bears and loses their cool when you spill air everywhere… it’s expecting things one way only and being foot-stomping angry when your team or even yourself doesn’t deliver.
It’s inflexible, domineering, patronising, selfish.
But, I meet far too many young women who are afraid to take on a leadership role for fear of the “bossy-pants” label. If you’re a leader, you’re a boss, and you as well as those that you lead may see your actions as “bossy”… but just refine your style. Don’t stop leading for fear of the label.
Perhaps the line between being bossy and being a leader is made up of the team of people that you lead, all standing in a straight line behind you, looking beyond you to the direction that you’re taking them.
Be passionate, be engaged, be ambitious, be strong, be the boss…
Keep your eye on that line and lead them well.
Brisita was born in Santiago, Chile, before moving half way across the world to sunny Perth, Australia.
She loves hanging at the beach, collecting tea cups, and singing Whitney Houston songs in her car at the top of her lungs.
Brisita is a Youth Pastor at Riverview Church where she leads a team of youth leaders and volunteers as they create fresh and exciting programs for the next generation.