SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 22, 2014

Column: Banning ‘B-word’ teaches girls the wrong lesson

(Continued)

A boss has the right to tell employees what to do. A peer — friend, colleague, classmate or acquaintance — doesn’t. Those who give orders they have not earned the right to give deserve to be called bossy. You have the right to persuade, not to dictate.

There is also an unsettling undercurrent of sexism here — reverse sexism, I guess, since it is aimed at males.

In the Parade interview, Chávez praised her mother: “Instead of teaching me how to cook, (she) taught my brothers how to cook and me how to run a board meeting.” This, in her view, was a good thing, while the reverse would have been a bad thing.

If she were really interested in an “even playing field for everyone,” a claim she made elsewhere in the interview, she would have wanted her mother to teach all her children, male and female, to cook and run a board meeting.

The most troubling element here is that being bossy, even when you’re a boss, is not good leadership. It’s being a jerk.

The message in books on leadership everywhere is that the best empower their employees, lead by example, inspire people to do their best, and make employees feel invested in the culture and mission of an enterprise. They don’t dictate and browbeat people — the classic behaviors that prompt people to call someone else bossy.

The way to encourage young women to become good leaders is to set a good example for them. Banning words is the bossy way to do it.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

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