Sheryl Sandberg should be applauded for bringing attention to the lack of women in leadership positions. She has given a voice to thousands of women across the world, and her Lean In movement is helping women create new visions and paths for themselves.
The Facebook COO is a powerful woman with a massive platform, and it’s commendable that she is using that platform to support women and empower girls.
I believe it is the wrong conversation to be having.
The right conversation is a new conversation about what leadership of the future looks like, and how women can step into their own authentic power instead of trying to continue to fit male power models.
The right conversation is about understanding that what we need from leaders is changing, and new feminine traits like nurturing, collaborative, being intuitive and open minded are taking the place of more traditional traits like command and control, assertive, directive and authoritative (yes, other words for bossy).
And the right conversation is about helping women realise the power that comes from owning what is unique and valuable about themselves is always going to be a far more empowering dialogue, and a faster path for those women who want to be in leadership positions (here’s a hint: not every women does) than trying to control the language of the masses, which in many ways, simply continues to reinforce the stereotypes they’re trying to change.
Embracing our strengths and what we do want effectively creates change. It’s much better than spending energy on fighting things we don’t want. Mother Teresa said it best when she said she would not march against war, but she would march for peace. Rather than whipping up a tidal wave of conversation around #banbossy, we should be encouraging girls and women everywhere to #beauthentic.
We need to keep the focus and the dialogue where it matters most. And that involves helping girls understand what is inherently good about themselves. It’s about shining a light on their strengths, and guiding them on how to use those strengths to achieve their dreams. And it’s about helping women finally understand that their inclination to lead with feminine traits is not only natural, but also gaining global recognition as the way people the world over want leaders to ‘show up’ in the future.
Let’s keep the conversation where it matters most. Letting women and girls be themselves, whatever that may look like. Celebrating authenticity. New leadership for a new world. And by the way, if a girl wants to be bossy, like Sandberg herself was growing up, then more power to her.