Officious is a nicer word

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014

According to the news last week, women in power hate being called bossy. Perhaps you read about the "Ban Bossy" slogan that is being promoted by several powerful women and the Girl Scouts USA. According to some reports the term "bossy" makes young girls want to retreat from leadership activities and allow boys to take the lead. However, other research contradicts the notion and explains that more teachers are concerned about boys while girls take the lead academically and are graduating from college in greater numbers. In addition girls are getting big jobs and making lots of money as Fortune 500 Companies report having more female CEOs than ever. So for now, forget calling girls and women bossy, let's just say women can be officious. Officious: excessively inclined to offer ones advice or services to others.
Women have been offering advice for a long time.  Perhaps it should not be pointed out that Eve advised Adam to eat the apple but on a brighter note Adam Grant, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, verified the value of women's advice in an article for the New York Times. He tells a story of how twenty years ago when Bill Gates was on his way to becoming the world's richest man, he rejected advice to set up a charitable foundation.  Gate's plan was to wait 25 years before he started giving his money away but changed his mind the following year.  Three years later, Mr. Gates ranked third on Fortunes list of the most generous philanthropist in America.  Mr. Gates revealed that two female family members; his mother and his wife were major catalyst for his giving.  Gates said his mother never stopped pressing him to do more for others and even used the following scripture to press her point: "From those to whom much is given, much is expected."  Gate's wife, Melinda, also played a critical role in shaping the philosophy of their foundation.  Melinda was to have read a book about a family that sold their home and gave half the proceeds to charity and began spreading the word about the idea.  When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet convene dinners for billionaires to discuss philanthropy, Mrs. Gates always insists on the wives being included.  Mrs. Gates says that even though the man is the one that made the money, the wife has got to agree to any philanthropic plan because charitable giving will affect her family. The article continued with research that explains how companies are better off when they have more women at the top management roles especially when it comes to innovation. Another study confirmed that when companies introduced women to their top management teams they generated an average of one percent more economic value, which typically meant more than $40 million.  The article goes on to recognize that women leaders bring diverse perspectives, collaborative styles, dedication to mentoring, and better understanding of female employees and customers.  In addition, women often encourage male colleagues to treat employees more generously and to share knowledge more freely.  Finally, women leaders usually increase motivation, cooperation, and creativity in companies and often influence male colleagues to do the same.
Women also prove to be helpful by their performance in the family. A recent Pew Research Poll shows that even though many women are working outside the home, they spend six hours a week more in household chores and three hours in additional childcare than the husband.  On the other hand, men have almost three hours more leisure time for TV, socializing, and exercise than women.  Today's women bring in 45 percent of the family's income thus taking care of the family in the traditional way and taking care of the family economically.
It's often said that behind every great man is a good woman.  However, we might go further and say; standing by every great man is a woman at his ear offering advice and help. Call me and my "sisters" bossy if you must, but officious is a nicer word.

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