About Bossy Girls And Leadership

“I want every little girl who [is told she is] bossy to be told instead, “You have leadership skills.”                           – Sheryl Sandberg on 60 Minutes, March 10, 2013

“I want every little girl who [is told she is] bossy to be told instead, “You have leadership skills.”
– Sheryl Sandberg on 60 Minutes, March 10, 2013

Sheryl Sandberg, famous for her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
(see quotes from Lean In on huffpo) brings an interesting insight into what it means to be a woman in the professional world today.  I found this shared on facebook by moral.me, the great new startup from Joel Cheesman. You can also see the 60 min interview, below:

Interestingly, when I searched the web for backup on this quote, I not only found lots of ‘bravo’  postings for this  and a great rundown from todaysmama, but remarkably a pretty blunt “bossy isn’t leadership” post, too, challenging this notion on it’s face.

Shannan Younger from Tween Us says she’d rather the quote be followed up or clarified.

I’ve seen this quote from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg all over the place, and each time I read it, it bugs me. I think it’s wrong. Or that at least it needs a follow-up: “And you need to refine those skills if you really want to be a leader. You need to listen in order to give the right directives.”

At first, I felt to agree with Shannan, but thinking about it, I don’t think so. The truth is, when boys are bossy or unruly, we call them “boys”. When girls to the same thing, we chastise and correct them. We push them back into their boxes. We corral them. We limit them. We complicate things that–for a boy– would be just simply titled “growing up”.

  • You need to be more polite.
  • You need to be quieter.
  • You need to be more considerate of others.
  • You can’t always be in charge.
  • You have to get along.

The unfortunate message we’re telling our daughters is that they’re not worth being in charge, in front, in the spotlight or changing the rules.  We’re telling them to stop pushing, stop trying, conform to the status quo and fit into the box that’s been provided to you and don’t complain. We’re telling them to stop defending themselves. Stop thinking out loud. Stop making mistakes. Stop wondering, inventing and thinking.

No wonder our women grow up feeling like they can’t innovate, can’t change, can’t challenge and must fit a mold of so-called perfection that is fueled by popular media and reinforced like a mass hysteria–or worse, a disease.

So, my hand is raised to say “Bravo!” to the bossy girls, the tough chicks, the creative ones that detest the box in all it’s forms.

So, my hand is raised to say “Bravo!” to the bossy girls, the tough chicks, the creative ones that detest the box in all it’s forms. These are they who will change the world for the better. These are they who might just save us all.

And, my hand is raised in support of my wife who has fought the odds, broken records and stands unique among women for so many reasons and who is raising a rugged team of the unruliest and most incredible, capable and beautiful daughters I could have ever dreamed I’d be lucky enough to call “my girls”.

Lean in, ladies. We all need you more than we currently understand.

More: Check out LeanIn.org for tools and ideas as well as the thought provoking tumblr ifuwerentafraid

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Robert Merrill

Senior Technical Recruiter
I am a Husband, Dad, Recruitinator, Geek. Mormon. Smart-Alec. . Professionally, I am a Senior Technical Recruiter at Fusion-io, the makers of "The World's Fastest and Most Innovative SSD" harddrive technology. Since 2001, I have helped connect companies and talented professionals with a particular style of recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and retention that helps companies change their recruiting processes and capabilities forever. I believe that even small companies can do fantastic recruiting with the right tools and mindset.

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