Have you ever been told you are too aggressive or bossy at work?
It’s frustrating, right?
On one hand, women are told to “lean in” or “step up” in the workplace to be more like our male counterparts. And then when we do… we are told we are too aggressive or bossy.
Our culture has a fear of seeing women succeed in leadership roles. As a result, being told you are too aggressive or bossy at work, particularly if you are performing in a leadership role, is not surprising. In fact, you can expect this is going to happen to you. I’m sorry this is true, but remember… I only tell it like it is, so just expect this is going to happen to you.
And here’s the revelation I want you to know when you are told you are too aggressive or bossy at work…
This is likely a response based on their fear,
not on fact or your actual behavior.
Well, I too have been told countless times I am too aggressive or bossy at work. And after worrying about it and trying to be someone I’m not for the first 15 years of my career, I eventually decided I was going to take it as a compliment. My way of thinking became, “Great, I must be doing something right.” My mother used to tell me all the time as a little girl how terribly bossy I was. Growing up in the 1970s, it wasn’t considered appropriate for a girl to boss everyone around all the time. It wasn’t acceptable in the culture I grew up in. I learned to suppress my leadership qualities (also known as bossiness), yet these qualities never left me.
My daughter is very independent and has been told by one of her teachers she is bossy. We notice at home, even as the youngest in our house, she certainly wants to be in charge most of the time. I’ll never forget her coming home from 1st grade and telling me, “Mom, I’m never going to marry the boys in my class because they don’t do what I tell them to do.” She wasn’t complaining about the boys, she was just stating a fact. There was no way I was going to tell her the boys didn’t have to do what she said or that husbands and wives are to be an equal partnership. I figured there was time for that conversation later in life. There is just no way I was going to squelch the leadership qualities she was developing.
That would be wrong, just as it is wrong many girls across this country have leadership qualities being driven out of them too. I want my daughter and all girls to be comfortable and confident in their leadership qualities, not be batted down as soon as they make a positive move.
The negative feedback you are getting, being told you are too aggressive or bossy at work, is a response based in fear about you stepping up or stepping into your leadership role. There is suddenly this fear of seeing you go after it, performing at a higher level, and/or seeing your potential to succeed. Yes, fear. Or insecurity. Or feeling like this change in you or your actions are going to surpass theirs.
Being told you are too aggressive or bossy at work might just mean you are doing something right!
And, this negative feedback is also based on the stereotypes people expect of women. Simply said… when women don’t exhibit the behavior of societal norms, we face backlash of some type.
So the question now is, can you do something about this?
The answer is… yes, most definitely.
Being told you are too aggressive or bossy at work doesn’t have to continue and it most certainly doesn’t have to follow you throughout your entire career.
There are simple and effective ways to put this issue to bed. And, the best part is… these solutions can be used immediately.
If you are experiencing this issue, it’s likely you are dealing with others in the workplace too.
And that’s where I come in, I coach women by providing tools, strategies, and solutions to gender bias that exists in the workplace.
The women I coach get results so they can work their way to the top, acquire the power and success they desire, level the playing field, and break the barriers that get in their way.