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Why I Hate "Ban Bossy"

My stepdaughter is bossy. This is apparently a bad thing to say, now.

Famously promoted by Sheryl Sandberg, among others, proponents argue that girls who are called "bossy" are simply being punished for attributes that would be seen as leadership material among boys of the same age.


The problem is, some kids - like my stepkid - are really just bossy. Which is a thing.

My kid isn't showing "leadership material" when she orders her friends around to the point where her friends get pissed off at her and don't want to play with her anymore. That's the opposite of leadership.

My kid isn't showing "leadership material" when she attempts to change the rules during games so that she can keep winning, and then gets upset and leaves when we tell her she can't change the rules just so she wins all the time. That's being bossy and a poor loser.

And my kid definitely isn't showing "leadership material" when she yells at other kids on the soccer field on how to properly play the game, even as she fails to do those simple things herself. Her bossiness drives kids away from her, and leaves her on the outside looking in, with no one left to boss around.


Leadership is the ability to convince others to follow you. Being bossy is ordering others what to do. They're two distinctly different words.

We absolutely should foster leadership abilities in our girls. Teach them how to persuade, how to inspire confidence. Teach them how to get things done. But we should also let them (and boys!) know when their bossiness is hurting themselves and others, because that can also happen.


In the mean time, I will continue to try to teach my stepkid how playing well with others can sometimes get better results than ordering others around all the time.

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