Don’t Let Them Call You Bossy
By Charlyn Moss, Founder, Working Within
I’ve always liked leading things, yet I’ve often received the message, subtle or flagrant, that my leadership isn’t allowed. Powerful women know this story well. Women are the only demographic that know the word “bossy”.
Power has been taken from me before. My body remembers and used to find comfort in how that feels. I let myself stay in workplaces, relationships, and environments that I knew kept me from accessing my potential. The world is uncomfortable taking order from women, and for a while, I totally enabled that reality.
That’s why it’s so important to be in the right environments. I recently interviewed a powerful business friend of mine. She is Black, an entrepreneur, and a young woman. We are mirrors for each other.
Her story inspires me because of how she started her business. She was tired of working for an organization that continued to clip her wings. And, she had the clarity and confidence to know that she could find better if she believed it was possible and moved confidently forward.
What I hate knowing about her story, my story, and many other womens’ stories is the sense of worthlessness and powerlessness that is so deeply enforced in some workplaces. For women, this phenomenon is normal. For Black women, the workplace is even worse. Black women are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. Black women’s successes are often discounted. Black women are less likely to get the support and resources they need to advance. The list goes on, unfortunately. That might explain why Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship brings a host of additional challenges. As an entrepreneur, you have to grow with your business. Your leadership has to evolve. You have to hire the right people. You need to develop a competitive edge for yourself, your business, and your product to survive. If you struggle with feelings of worthlessness or impostor syndrome, your business will reflect those feelings right back to you as a deeply personalized self-fulfilling prophecy.
I have put limits, fences, around my own big ideas over and over again. Even though I started Working Within! Even though I get to learn from the amazing Black leaders I host on my show. The leader’s journey is a demanding one.
I love entrepreneurship because of the power and accountability it requires. When you continually face challenges as a leader or entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to resolve issues. No one else can do this for you. If the money isn’t coming, you’ll have to question the mindset you hold around generating profit. If you are hiring people that aren’t delivering on the vision you have, you’ll have to understand why you are okay sacrificing quality as you build a team. If you cannot hold yourself accountable to developing even as you face business challenges, you’ll have to decide if entrepreneurship is really for you.
All your growth in leadership will come through your ability to handle adversity. You have to solve problems even if you’re unsure of what’s to come. Being your own boss begs you to work like you know the best is on the other side. Entrepreneurship requires a mindset of success. You have to access all the sources of internal power that you have.
You have to be bossy.
As a young woman, I put limits on myself due to my experience, so I make an active effort to see myself in a different light. I even commissioned an entire photoshoot to help with the visualization. The connection between visualization and manifestation is real! Who are you on your way to becoming? What does she look like?
My photoshoot, a project I affectionately named BOSSY, is a reclamation and affirmation because I needed to see myself. I grew up with a very limited view of what was possible for me. Many of us do.
I lean hard into my power now, the same power I was supposed to remain afraid of. I take bossy as a compliment. I don’t have to be afraid of my power because I am here to cultivate it. As leaders, we have to. Our influence is how we change the world.