Boss Lady is OUT!

Boss Lady

I’m not a fan of the term “boss lady”. I never have been. Whether you say “boss lady”, “girl boss” or some interchangeable term, they’re all the same. They insinuate a certain tone, attitude, and character that I’m just not a fan of. To me the term describes someone who is

  • Strong, assertive and in control of her life and work
  • Holds a position of authority
  • Respected for her skills, confidence, presence and ability to make decisions
  • Professionally successful and has this sense of empowerment
  • Independent and commands the room they walk in

Many of us have these exact characteristics too! The term used to be celebrated but I think we need to change that.

Why is Boss Lady out?

The term has good qualities, but only to an extent. I think the term has a sense of hardness around it. To me, it doesn’t convey the soft skills that all good professionals out there need. And there’s no feeling of empathy in the phrase. Boss Lady signifies someone that’s come up through the ranks all on their own with zero help from anyone. They are probably unwilling to share what they know and act as a resource for others in their industry. The phrase “boss lady” is out because it no longer indicates how well a person can lead.

Boss vs. Leader

These terms are often interchangeable but there are definite differences between the two. Each has their own approach to life and work.

Authority vs. InfluenceA boss sits at the top and has all the power. They think top down.A leader influences and inspires those around them. They share their vision and values and lead by example.
Direction vs. GuidanceBosses tell people what to do. The expect compliance and focus more on outcomes rather than the people involved.Leaders guide and mentor the people around them. They encourage creativity and new thoughts from others because they want what’s best for their people.
Control vs. EmpowermentThey love to micromanage. They dictate how things are done and when.Leaders allow their team to make decisions because they trust them to get the job done. There’s accountability and growth.
Fear vs. RespectObedience and respect is the name of the game for a boss. Many follow them because they’re afraid or feel like they have to. Leaders earn respect. They have integrity, empathy and connect with others on a deeper level. Generally people follow them because they want to.
FocusBosses generally think short-term. They want immediate results and aren’t thinking about the people involved in any of the processes.Leaders almost always have a vision and a strategy for where they’re headed. They care about the relationships they have and love investing in others because they’re the next generation of leaders.

Do you see the big differences? If it’s still fuzzy, keep reading.

Real World Examples

Boss Lady Types

We all know Steve Jobs. He co-founded Apple and was the originator of the products we know and love today. But his leadership style was demanding and had a perfectionist approach. Steve always pushed for high standards and wanted to have the most innovative products. He knew where he was headed and didn’t really care for the opinions of others.

Anna Wintour is the Editor-in-Chief at Vogue Magazine and a force to be reckoned with. She’s been known as a “formidable boss” and has a decisive and authoritative way about her. Anna demands high standards in order to maintain the magazine’s high standards but with her command and control approach, it can come at a cost.

Elizabeth Holmes might be unknown but her company, Theranos, has been in the headlines. She ran a biotech firm that controlled information and operations from the top. She had charisma but was incredibly rigid. It’s been said that she actually admired Steve Jobs and you can see that in her attire. Unfortunately for her, Elizabeth was convicted of fraud due to her leadership style.

Leader Types

If you don’t know about Nelson Mandela, I worry. He was a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement and South Africa’s first black President. Mandela always expressed his vision for the greater good. He showed humility and though of others before himself. Despite the costs, he inspired and unified the world through understanding of others.

I only learned about Jacinda Ardern during the pandemic. She is the former Prime Mister of New Zealand and her empathetic nature is incredible. She loved her people and you could tell. Her transparent and inclusive nature and communication style was everything. Jacinda focused on making her community better through one thing – basic human rights.

I get emotional when I talk about this woman. Malala Yousefzai is simply amazing! She is an activist for female education all over the world and has the courage and resilience like no one else. Malala was literally almost unalived leaving school one day yet that hasn’t stop her from fighting oppression fearless.

Is the difference between a boss and a leader becoming more clear? I really saw the difference when I worked in the corporate world because I experienced both. That’s when I started my own personal growth journey and decided what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Now it’s your turn.

Who do you want to be? Start to look around you and identify the boss lady types and the leader types in your life. Let’s turn change the term from boss lady to something better… Inspired leader maybe?

Share the love!