I define bossy as: the characteristic of convincing others to take action by telling them what to do, usually positioning oneself as a real or imagined authority and usually this behavior is unsolicited.
First, isn't telling other people what words they can/cannot say... awful bossy in itself? I know that language usage shapes the way we think, but this is a sustainable practice? Is censorship really an effective method for change management?
Aren't we trying to get away from command-and-control style management? Every consultant and their mother, as well as HBR, is talking about how business can't continue to rely on the 20th Century mode of hierarchical, top-down, do-what-I-say-or-you're-fired bossiness. And for good reason. Markets are changing faster than ever before and companies can no longer count on smart bosses to save them. They need leaders who can bring out and maximize the collective strengths of those around them. To do this, they need less bossiness, better listening skills and empathy, and a shift from the mindset of taskmaster to that of a coach.
There's little argument that organizational performance is greatly effected by employee engagement. But to get that engagement, you need management that values their employees as individuals and encourages them to work to their strengths. Bossiness works in the opposite direction.
Here's a rogue idea, instead of trying to stamp out labeling kids as bossy, what if we called out more adults who behave in a bossy manner? The greater the number of bossy people in your organization, the worse off it is, so why tolerate this destructive behavior any more?
That's my opinion, what's yours?
PS - For an even more articulate and intelligent post on this topic, check out Ann Handley