How to be the boss without being the b-word (bossy)

By Cathleen Clerkin, Christine A. Crumbacher, Julia Fernando, & William A. Gentry
Center for Creative Leadership


Research from the Center for Creative Leadership shows that just because you are the boss, does not mean it’s okay to be bossy. Two hundred and one leaders from the United States shared their experiences with the word bossy in the workplace and what it’s like to have a bossy coworker. Being bossy was seen as showing a lack of interpersonal leadership skills, including being directive and controlling, ignoring others’ perspectives, being rude and pushy, micromanaging, focused on power, and being aggressive. Bossy coworkers were seen as unlikable, unpopular, unlikely to be successful, and at risk for career derailment. Strategies for addressing bossiness in the workplace – both changing your own habits and for dealing with bossy coworkers – are discussed in this paper.


Clerkin, C., Crumbacher, C. A., Fernando, J., & Gentry, W. A. (2015). How to be the boss without being the b-word (bossy) [White paper]. Center for Creative Leadership.

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