The Bull On Bossy

Maybe you haven’t noticed but there seems to now be a new war on words, that word today is “bossy.” Now before I start, let me make this declarative statement that’s now a near prerequisite when one states an opinion on what the “opinion police” will declare as off-limits territory.

I understand words have impact, I understand whole heartily words can both hurt as well as lift up. However, I am also adult enough to understand mixed messaging, good intentions gone awry, and out right hypocrisy when I see it. And this latest campaign seems to reek of not only the aforementioned, but quite possibly be sending exactly the wrong message rather than the right one.

Personally I have worked for two women CEO’s. And they were not CEO’s of some craft fair doily supplier to the powder puff convention. These women were in charge of the #1 and #2 largest independent meat companies in New England with sales of nearly half a Billion dollars between them respectfully.

For those not familiar with the wholesale meat business let me state this for I spent nearly my entire career in it. This was one of the last bastions of a real “old boys” club. A club where most had their first cocktails promptly at 5 – and I’m not talking PM. The work was hard, cold, and back-breaking. Not really the place where “girls” would look for opportunities or advancement.

As I sit here typing I am recalling my interactions and first hand knowledge of them. To think that one of them would be offended at being called bossy makes me laugh.

There was no way one could sit across from them and not realize they were women. However, what you also never forgot and didn’t need to be reminded of was: they were the boss. Period. They commanded respect in tone and demeanor not because they were easily offended women, but because they were in charge. I don’t know about you – but I don’t see a guy/girl issue here. Sorry.

Just look at the latest spokespeople coming across the airwaves declaring that “bossy” is something so terrible it can ruin your self-esteem or more. First Condeleeza Rice.

Here is a woman who was the not only the representative, but the conduit to argue for the United States positions that needed to be upheld in face to face meetings with dictators, despots, and others that look upon women with disdain let alone anything else. Did she worry about whether or not they thought of her as “bossy?” Would it not have been a far better thing for her to address this whole meme in a manner such as: I have been in front of the worst refuse the world has to offer, and the names they called me both behind my back and to my face never concerned me. Nor should you let names callers concern you either.

What about Sheryl Sandberg? Here she is running Facebook™ one of the most high-profile companies currently on the planet. When she went in for her interview does one think during the process she might have said: Well, I really want this job but what I won’t tolerate is when I tell people what to do, if they think I’m being bossy. If that happens I’m going to turn in my resignation.  Hardly. Nor would I think she even cares.

Again, would it not be better if this were addressed by someone in her position with the tones of: I run one of the premier, exciting, world-class corporations on the planet. What I never allowed was someone telling me I could never achieve being the boss of such an enterprise. I focused on who I am and what I’m capable of. Not what others thought or called me – as you should too. For I’m proof you can be here also. Just disregard the name callers, and build your dreams on your good name.

Then there’s Beyonce’. Look, I respect her as a performer and business talent. However, when a married with child woman is doing near stripper based videos with songs laced with the other B word, along with her husband renowned for music laced with derogatory words and passages concerning women, I find it a little too hypocritical.

Personally in her case , I think she’s sending out far too many mixed messages in a, “do as I say – not as I do” to even be included in this campaign. Really – bossy bothers her more than b***h? I mean…Really?

This also comes from the same wheelhouse that I have trouble with where people who made it to some of the pinnacles of success stand there and denounce how unfair, impossible, and all the other phrases to many to mention why you can’t do what they have done.

If you think I’m off base on this whole rant let me add in another term I find fits into this discussion that’s just as ridiculous: Glass Ceilings.

Look, there was a time where glass ceilings were very, very, real. However today? Most of them have been shattered. What we do have more of today are glass walls. i.e., Where more women are moving within different organizations at all levels in greater numbers holding ever more positions within the corporate structure. But the ceiling? Sorry, that’s been broken long ago.

To have someone such as any woman CEO of a world dominating corporation with market caps of $10’s or $100’s of Billions give a speech or write on the topic of glass ceilings does a disservice to the people looking to follow their path. It sends all the wrong messages. It reeks of more: “I did it but you may not because of all these hidden forces.” rather than, “I did it, and so can you as I’m proof those forces can be overcome.”

This whole meme of where self-esteem, feelings, and more has really taken a turn down the wrong path. Rather than being the perfect opportunity where people could profess how others can turn obstacles into psychological strength training for one’s protection of psyche or ego. They march out on campaigns that just might be reinforcing the exact opposite of what many of us grew up reciting and internalizing.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

As a matter of fact: Maybe they should be reminding more people of that age-old saying, rather than what they’re currently professing.

But maybe I’m being too bossy to suggest that.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr