“A New Definition of Leadership” by Josh Misner, PhD at Huffington Post on 21 March 2014
I wrote about Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy!” initiative a few weeks ago. Ban Bossy! means to avoid language-based gender stereotyping for leadership attributes for assertive behaviour – a boy would be labeled a leader (a positive attribute) whereas a girl would be labelled bossy (a negative attribute). The author of this article (a professor with a doctorate in leadership studies) states that there is a place for both leader and bossy in the dictionary and proposes a different concept of leadership.
The Ban Bossy! initiative has gathered some public criticism. The argument on why bossy should stay in the dictionary is captured in the author’s quote:
“There are times when bossy means bossy, whether for a boy or a girl. There are certainly times when authoritative crosses the line into authoritarian, and a child, regardless of gender, needs to be taught the art of leadership.”
Where the article provides greatest value is in the second half – the proposal of a new concept for leadership. Traditionally “masculine” assessment qualities such as activities, tasks, objectives, goals, initiative, time and stress management must be merged with more “feminine” qualities such as empathy, vulnerability, humility, work-life balance, inclusiveness and patience. Essentially, this would result in a harmonious blend of “hard” and “soft” leadership attributes.