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Your daughter is not bossy- She’s a leader in Mary Janes

by Guest on December 16, 2013

There are four daughters in my friend’s family. Her father often jokes that he had four girls and “gave up”. The two eldest, the older sister and my friend, and the two youngest, were born of different mothers and about ten years apart. The two sets of siblings grew up continents apart and yet display remarkable similarities, particularly in how the elder relates to (or more accurately) dominates the younger. In fact, the two older sisters are louder, brasher, more confident, more popular and (because they demanded it) took up quite a bit more of their parents’ time. The younger sisters easily fell into more of a follower role.

According to the book by Michael Grose entitled “Why First Borns Rule the World – and Last Borns Want to Change It”, first born children are statistically more likely to be natural born leaders, middle children peacemakers and diplomats and youngest children artistically or creatively inclined. First born children are highly organised, motivated and dedicated and dominate the professions.

To the uninitiated, a little girl’s insistence on taking charge in every given situation can be misconstrued as “bossiness”. “Bossy” is certainly a negative descriptor and is not as often applied to little boys. Bossy behaviour can be seen as marginalising less confident or less vocal children in the home or in a group situation such as childcare. 

Bossy behaviour can be seen as marginalising less confident or less vocal children in the home or in a group situation such as childcare

To be fair to the family or the group, mothers or child care workers sometimes attempt to diminish or quash “bossy” behaviours. Some mothers may be particularly concerned how their “strong young women” may be perceived negatively by the world at large. They may prefer to raise princesses rather than presidents.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently observed that stereotypically “we believe men should be assertive, aggressive, leaders. Everywhere in the world we believe women should speak when spoken to, raise their hand, give to others.” Sandberg challenges women to assert themselves in leadership situations. The confidence to assert should be fostered from an early age.

How do we recognise and develop our natural born leaders?

Future leaders tend to test very highly in the following 5 traits:

• Sociability – leaders and Type A personality types often test off the Briggs-Myers extrovert scale. In the case of the elder sisters in my family, they “own the room” in a social context.

• Self confidence – a sense of security, assuredness and (almost) entitlement.

• Assertiveness – this can be aggressive or persuasive but is always influential. In my older sister’s case, she can talk her way into or out of anything with ease.

• Boldness – a sense of adventure, bravery and audaciousness. Leaders are risk takers. This is true of my older sister who conquered her fear of heights by repeatedly jumping out of a plane. I remain risk averse.

• Leadership – leaders are authoritative, inspiring, controlling and influential. Even if just via simple influence, I have followed the path already taken by my older sister, even in career selection.

Whilst the word “bossy” traditionally takes on a negative connotation, it is not necessarily a bad trait or management style. My friend is now expecting her first child about four weeks from now and yes, much to her father’s chagrin, it is another girl. We can only hope she is a natural born leader. For the record, we are now employing the term “precocious” rather than bossy and hope to foster any natural leadership qualities by:

1. Recognising them

2. Embracing them

3. Raising a president rather than a princesss

Gina Withey

Gina WitheyGina has over 20 years experience in the travel and hospitality industry in the areas of Sales, Marketing and Operations. An Orlando native, Gina has held positions as Director of Sales, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, National Sales Manager and Corporate Sales Manager, in particular in the corporate travel segment where Gina has established a wide range of contacts within the business community.

Gina is currently Regional Director Sales and Marketing and oversees staySky Resort Management’s marketing and advertising for staySky Hotels & Resorts, which includes family accommodation at both Orlando and Daytona Hotels.

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