February 13, 2015 | Cathleen Clerkin, Christine A. Crumbacher, Julia Fernando, and William A. (Bill) Gentry | Center for Creative Leadership
Community: Engage Your People
In light of the recent interest in the word “bossy” and the Ban Bossy campaign, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) conducted research on the role of the word bossy in the workplace.
- Bossy is not a synonym for assertiveness, or other positive executive leadership skills. Women are called bossy in the workplace more often than men are.
- Bossy coworkers are described as unpopular and unlikely to be successful in the future, and bossy women coworkers are seen as more unpopular and less successful compared to bossy men coworkers.
- When we look at bossy behaviors—without the bossy label—men are just as likely as women to act bossy in the workplace.
- Acting bossy is related to being seen as less promotable by bosses for both men and women. However, the relationship was stronger for women.
- Altogether, our results show a consistent trend that being bossy in the workplace has negative consequences, and those consequences are particularly harsh for women.