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In praise of being the bossy one

Hands up if you’ve ever been called bossy? UP, come on! We don’t have all day.

Sorry, that was bossy of me wasn’t it? Some might say ‘assertive’ or ‘proactive’… but I’m a girl, and so plain old ‘bossy’ is the invisible label that’s been slapped on my head ever since the first day I tried to organise my nursery school classmates into the optimum formation for a game of Dizzy Dinosaurs (not right next to the tree, yeah Debbie?).

You’ll know if you’re the bossy friend in your group (and every group has one, trust me – that’s how you’re a ‘group’ and not, like, a rabble) because you approach every party, event and outing, even your standard Saturday mooch-around-town, with the organisational fervour of a wedding planner. You empathised so strongly with Monica planning Phoebe’s wedding that you even thought about getting one of those bluetooth headsets, so you can chase up late friends while keeping your hands free to send excited gifs to everybody in your group chat. You tend to get chosen as form captain, prefect, group spokesperson, project group leader and the nominated person to sweet talk people’s parents after house parties, because they know that however much of a nightmare you might be during the process, you’ll always get the job done.

And you also, probably, get made to feel a little bit bad about it. A bit overbearing. Too bolshy. Too loud. Too… much. Right?

Wrong. I’m here today to tell you that even if people give you crap for it, being the bossy one is no bad thing. For starters, the world NEEDS bossy people. It’s how we get stuff done. Without us bossy types, nothing would ever get decided on. No trips would ever get arranged. The whole world would just be one huge, chaotic circle of laid-back people taking it in turns to shrug and say “I don’t mind, you choose!” until we all die.

And I’ll let you into a secret: bossy is just another word for taking charge. Being a leader. It’s a characteristic that’s been prized and applauded in men for centuries, making them world leaders, CEOs and multi-millionaires. Girls and women who have the same qualities, meanwhile? We’re called ‘bossy’. And that’s bulls**t. Bossy girls are the world leaders and CEOs and multi-millionaires (the nice, charitable kind) of tomorrow.

For proof, like so many things in life, we just need to to look at Beyoncé – a woman so totally and fully in charge of her own brand that she’s become an unshakeable world icon… but one who also got called bossy as a kid.

Back in 2014 Queen Bey joined other amazing ladies like Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg in the #BanBossy campaign, to get people to rethink the way they used the world to describe girls. “I’m not bossy,” went their slogan. “I’m the boss.” And with Bey’s fierce, slaying brand of femininity only getting more inspirational by the year, the time that girls really realise they can run the world might be here.

There’s a good way to be bossy though, obviously. A way that listens to everyone and takes the introverts into account too – because a world where everyone is bossy would be just as bad as a world where nobody remembers to designate snack responsibilities and you always end up at a picnic with nine tubs of hummus. Just as bad.

So maybe what we need is a compromise. If us bossy girls learn to keep our traps shut every so often and recognise that not everyone necessarily cares if the official daytrip-to-Brighton hashtag gets used with the correct punctuation…. maybe everyone else could thank us for making things happen, banish the word ‘bossy’ and call us ‘assertive’ for a change. Or ‘proactive’. Or just plain bossing it.


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