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Commentary: Why the 'Ban Bossy' Campaign is Terrible for Girls

Despite her success and stature, Sheryl Sandberg’s alleged role in the Facebook privacy scandal exposed in a recent New York Times report demonstrates why her advice for handling bossy girls is precisely the wrong path to the ascendance of women, or anyone, in the workplace. 
 
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer for Facebook, has led a campaign to ban the word “bossy” when describing girls, arguing that the term discourages them from pursuing leadership careers. While as a male of only average success in business I hesitate to challenge the mission of a powerful female executive, the advice is so patently dangerous it’s hard to stay quiet. In fact, the recent New York Times article on the practices of Facebook, and Sandberg’s alleged role in the company’s insidious desire to defend its practices, demonstrates precisely why her advice is so bad. “Bossy” management styles foster poor workplaces and bad behaviors, no matter whether exercised by men or women, as the article clearly indicates. 
 
As the proud father of two daughters and a daughter-in-law-to-be with confident and outgoing personalities well on their ways to successful professional careers, I know that the last thing they ever needed was advice encouraging them to be bossy. In fact, two of these young ladies had their lives made miserable for a time by bossy women, and the other by a bossy man, until she stood up to him. Women don’t need to be bossy to succeed; in fact, bossiness is the worst enemy of anyone seeking a leadership role. In today’s culture, bossy management styles are toxic, no matter the gender. It’s a form of dangerous reverse sexism to encourage girls to act in a manner that will stand in the way of their success. 
 
I would argue that the best way to encourage bossy girls or boys is to praise the confidence and innate leadership that naturally gives rise to such behavior and to encourage their desire to mobilize people toward the achievement of goals in a positive way. The objective is to guide them toward more sustainable leadership styles that inspire rather than bully people into submission. It’s easy to demonstrate how patience and respect for the desires of others leads to better results in the long run than trying to boss people and that, in fact, bossiness is generally toxic and self-defeating at any time in life and in any organization. 
 
After reading the NYT article about Facebook and Sandberg’s role there, one might conclude that her bossiness campaign is a conscious or subconscious justification for her own leadership style and path to success, a style that in the end could be her downfall. 
 
Parents and teachers: Please ignore Sheryl Sandberg's terrible advice. Don’t ever encourage bossiness in girls or boys. Girls don’t need to be bossy to get ahead; they need to have the same confidence, skills, respect for others, perseverance and sense of mission all successful leaders exhibit on their path to success. 
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