March 14, 2014
March 14, 2014
Once again, Sheryl Sandberg has proven that she is exceptionally in-tune with what will get people talking, and she isn’t afraid to cause a little controversy.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last weekend, she and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez launched a campaign to ban the word bossy. It features the support of the likes of Beyonce, and has inspired a host of opinions on the word. A sampling: New York Times, TIME, LA Times, New York, CNN, The Boston Globe…
Maybe it’s because Public Relations is dominated by strong women who are leaders, bosses and colleagues and, yes, sometimes bossy. Perhaps it’s because I was always proud to be called bossy as a child, but the word bossy doesn’t bother me.
In the op-ed, Sandberg and Chavez say, “Behind the negative connotations lie deep-rooted stereotypes about gender. Boys are expected to be assertive, confident and opinionated, while girls should be kind, nurturing and compassionate.”
I don’t disagree with this assertion, and Sandberg’s overall message is an important one. It’s vital for women to have strong female role models who are leaders and executives, and I especially love the work Lean In is doing with Getty to create a collection of stock photos that depict powerful women.
Good leaders are assertive, confident, opinionated, kind, nurturing and compassionate. These qualities are not mutually exclusive, nor are they exclusive to men or women. Teaching all leaders that it’s ok to be bossy, while making sure they don’t forget how to be compassionate is perhaps more significant…and would be a more powerful point to make than focusing on just one word or sentiment.
Sandberg knows how to start a debate, but is she always starting the right one?