Bossy Girl, Collaborative Woman

by | Feb 4, 2018

I have a four-year old daughter. She is lovely, and bossy.

I recently read that by the age of 5 girls are taught that it’s not girl like to be bossy.

I have to admit, as the mother of a bossy 4-year old I find myself thinking…., “don’t be so bossy”.

And I stop myself. I don’t remember saying this to my boys. Is this gender bias ingrained in me also?

On the word bossy…

“This is a word that is symbolic of systemic discouragement of girls to lead. We are not just talking about getting rid of a word, even though we want to get rid of a word,” she said. “We’re talking about getting rid of the negative messages that hold our daughters back.”

– Sheryl Sandberg

The irony, is that I have succeeded in my life in the role of a “boss”. At the age of 26 I was running a non-profit organization and was the boss. At the age of 30 I was on the Board of Directors of a company, at the age of 35 I was the CEO of a company. I have succeeded at being the boss.

And yet, at this moment in my life I find myself rejecting the desire to be a boss. When I reflect on this deeply, it’s because our Canadian construct of what it is to be a “boss”, does not fit with where I am. The model of power dynamics in companies is something that I don’t relate to and that I don’t agree with. I believe in collective ownership, in self-management, in the value that everyone brings to the table, as equally important.

And the classic model of leadership does not enable this.

We ask ourselves, why are there not more women in politics, more women CEO’s and I know for myself the answer. The classic power game in our society is one that comes from the Ego, one that is bent on power and control over. For most women that I know in leadership roles, their definition of power is often based in service and in collaboration.

We need a more spiritual approach to success and to influence. –Deepak Chopra

The world of business and politics needs a new model, a collaborative, spiritual approach. It is time. I am committed to working with others to design this new collaborative approach.

Meet the author


Jennifer Williams


Experience Matters: Over 20 years in employee ownership.

Leadership: Held key roles in a 100% employee-owned company during significant growth and change (2003-2013)

Consultancy: Successfully guided over 40 businesses on employee-ownership and through their transitions to employee ownership, building a robust portfolio of satisfied clients.

Jennifer also owns a family business transitioning to employee ownership and has designed Firefly Insights as a worker-owned consulting firm to support business owners like you.