Bossy Girl Leadership: Inspiring Women To Own Their Brilliance With Kristal Murren – Episode 139

LFL 139 | Bossy Girl

 

When you read a phrase like “bossy girl” on a company name, you probably won’t know what to make of it. This was how our host Patrick Veroneau felt when he heard about Bossy Girl Leadership, whose founder graces today’s episode. Kristal Murren will tell us today exactly why her business’ name makes sense despite all the negative connotations of the phrase. For too long, society has equated the “bossy girl” archetype to women who have a purpose, a mission, and a voice. But is it really a bad thing? A big, resounding NO, Kristal says, and you’re about to find out why. After listening to this episode, you will understand why when somebody calls you “bossy”, you might as well say, “Thank you.”

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Bossy Girl Leadership: Inspiring Women To Own Their Brilliance With Kristal Murren

This episode is special for me. This is a woman that I met in a workshop we were doing together. We were in a breakout group together. Her name was Kristal Murren. She runs a company called Bossy Girl Leadership. At first, when I heard that, I did not know how to take it. After hearing her story and what her mission is regarding Bossy Girl Leadership, it made perfect sense to me. I knew I wanted to get her on an episode and be able to talk about it. I hope you enjoy this episode and reach out to her as well. Let’s get into it.

Kristal, thanks so much for being on the show. I had been looking forward to this Bossy Girl Leadership. We are going to get an idea of what it means in terms of redefining bossy girls. Thank you for being on the show. I would love for you to be able to share how this whole thing come about for you.

I could not be more honored to be here. I love everything that you are about and what you stand for. I am grateful that you offered me this invitation. Before I tell you my story, as we were prepping for this, you said to me, “My wife is a bossy girl and my daughter is a bossy girl too, but we are trying to work with her on what that looks like.”

The story that I wanted to share with everyone as we get started is if you have a woman in your life that is on a mission, has a purpose and has a voice, she has probably been called bossy. What I’m all about is taking that and using it as our motivation to grow and do better. Let me tell you why that is. My story is one of great triumph but also a lot of failures. When I was 37 years old, I was on my way to work one day. I was a single mom of a nine-year-old little girl. I was stopped at a red light waiting to go to work and I was hit from behind by a truck at 55 miles per hour.

When I got out of that car, I did not realize at that time that my life would never ever be the same again even though I could stand up on my own and there was only a little bit of blood from the glass that had broken through and cut me through my hair. I could walk at that point, but I did not realize at that time I no longer had any of my memory. I did not remember where I had been or who I was to any large degree. I could not read and write. I spent a year in the darkness looking for answers and trying to do what doctors told me which was, “Do not think and not use your brain.”

When I started to fight back against that prescription, the doctors started telling me I was bossy and even wrote that word in my charts. I went to the parking lot oftentimes crying, but I knew that there was more to this than what I could ever have imagined. I realized that time that I was given a gift, a voice and a talent. I had to come back from what I was facing now so that I could make sure that my daughters were not called bossy like I was. If they were called bossy, their only answer to that would be, “Thank you.” I want that for my daughters and I want it for yours. That is why I’m here and that is what I’m about.

We had a conversation before we got on this. As a male, if I’m assertive or I’m pushing on something, it is often like, “Go get them.” It is not the same thing if it’s a female. I think we both know the word. That is almost a gaslighting. You force somebody to take a step back like, “I do not want to be seen as that. I guess I do not say anything.”

Women are by far our most untapped resource. Women systematically underestimate themselves every single time. When given an opportunity, men will always over-evaluate themselves. Click To Tweet

To a large degree, I believe that the way this plays out in our society is subconscious. We have seen this is the way. If somebody says something you do not like or even just pushes you outside your comfort zone, you can use a B-word like bossy or the other one. You can subconsciously shut them down and stay in your own comfort zone so nobody with strength can push you to be somewhere you do not want to be.

Biologically, our brains are inclined to keep us safe. They do not want us to have any discomfort. Unfortunately, we have to have discomfort in order to grow. There has to be friction, but when somebody applies friction and they are women, oftentimes, we have an easy out by using a quick B-word. It shuts her down and it allows us to stay in our comfort zone. I do not see it as something that is happening in our society as a malicious thing, but I do believe it is something that does happen.

You go through that process yourself. Now you are seeing it like, “Even in my charts, I’m being called bossy.” What was the point where you said, “I’m going to turn this into a business and create a company where I would help females build this level of confidence in themselves and not shy away from that?”

What I did with my recovery is I ended up enrolling in one of the most challenging Master’s degree programs I could find. I started researching women’s behavior. I used my motivation to understand women in leadership to power my recovery in learning to read and write again. What I learned is that women are by far our most untapped resource. Women systematically underestimate themselves every single time.

When given an opportunity to evaluate themselves, men will always over evaluate themselves. I’m speaking in absolutes. There are always exceptions to the rule. Women will underestimate themselves typically. This is how this goes. What I realized is that if I wanted to make a difference in the world, I had to support women in owning their brilliance and purpose, and be willing to use their voice.

One of my greatest gifts was courage. I have been given the gift of courage, maybe not so graceful. There are a lot of gifts that I was not given, but courage is one of them that I was. What I learned is that I could use my courage to go first, shine a bright light and allow people I love. One of my favorite things to do is go to a large conference and I will introduce myself. I will stand up and say, “I’m Kristal and I’m the bossy girl.” Everybody will laugh hysterically. It is so funny.

LFL 139 | Bossy Girl

Bossy Girl: We do not know what makes an amazing female leader. We do not see it and we do not talk about it.

 

When we start talking about the story and why I’m the bossy girl, everything changes. Nobody is laughing anymore because they understand how it feels when somebody does that to them. They know they have done that to somebody else and they suddenly have a recognition that they were unconsciously hurting someone.

What I have done is use that brash nature and my courage and boldness to go first, shine my light, use my voice, and allow people to laugh. Allow it and show that it is okay to allow them to laugh and to say, “I know who I am. I’m going to let you laugh because if you laugh at me and you are willing to hear my story, I’m hopeful that next time you won’t laugh at somebody else.”

It is funny because, in your story, you say you get up and tell people, “I’m the bossy girl.” They laugh and they hear the backstory. I was in that same boat. When you first were introduced in one of the calls we were on, I chuckled at the beginning and all of a sudden, I was like, “Oh my.” It puts a whole different perspective on what you are talking about and what that means. That was why I was like, “It is a great fit to have you on this in regards to talking about leadership.”

To your other point, in much of the work that I have done with executives, especially in healthcare for females, it is one thing that I have noticed. They discount their significance in the group that I would not see in a male. They are far more competent than most of the males that I deal with, yet there is almost this self-deprecation that happens. It is interesting and you speak to it.

We know that we need to be strong or almost behave as if we are men or behave the way we have seen men behave in order to be successful. When we look up the chain of command and toward power, we see men who are sitting in those seats, and we often believe that we have to behave that way if we are going to be successful.

When we behave that way, we are not accepted. We start to realize, “I do have strengths as a woman. Maybe I need to be softer, more nurturing and listening, but then we are not considered competent and we’re not respected. People do not believe that we know what we are doing. We get caught up in this double standard and we do not know what is expected of us.

You would not be where you are if you were not worthy. Click To Tweet

The truth is one of the things that we need to know as leaders if you want to be successful, you have to know how to set expectations. People need to know what is expected of them if they are following you because if they know what is expected of them, they can either rise above it or know when they are falling below. That allows them to course-correct.

As women in society, we do not have expectations. We don’t know what is expected of us. Which side of the coin do you want us to live on? Do you want us to use our natural strengths? Do you want us to behave the way we have seen others behave? What is it that you want from us? What happens is when we do not understand the expectations, we get quiet and we get small.

If we do not know that we are exceeding the expectation, then I can’t say, “Patrick, I am among the top 3% of leaders, and let me tell you why.” We do not know what makes an amazing female leader. We do not see it and we do not talk about it. That is why I’m out there talking about this is what it looks like. When I say assertive, I’m not talking about aggressive. I do not give license to women being a b*** or hurting other people to get what she wants. That is not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about is being willing to be assertive and use your voice because I guarantee, if you look at the women in your organization, they have far more strengths than what they have shown you. If you are not having real leadership conversations about what she is capable of, you have an untapped resource. She will always play small unless you allow her to use her voice or if she is someone that has done the inner work to accept that there are expectations that she will never be able to live up to, and she is okay with that.

I go back to what you had said earlier about courage. When I think of courage, you spoke about that part of our brain called the amygdala, we are always trying to protect ourselves. That is what we do. If I’m thinking I’m going to speak up in front of this group, my brain is saying, “Do not do it. This is not going to end well for you.” It tries to keep us from that. Certainly, men experienced that too. What we are talking about now in terms of this example, I can see that where you are like, “This isn’t good.” It is trying to talk that amygdala out of the conversation of saying, “I have got to do this.”

I often talk to women about fear, vulnerability, shame and things of that nature. One of the things that we talk about is how we avoid pain with our amygdala and flight or fight responses. We see pain and fear as the enemy. What is difficult is there is no possibility for courage without fear being present. When we are afraid, that means there is something that could possibly be worth exploring here. Only by making the choice of courage will we find out what that is. Many of us live a life of mediocre. We live a life of just okay. The truth is if we were willing to explore the fear and make the choice of courage, excellence could be available. That is what I do. It is to help people discover excellence.

LFL 139 | Bossy Girl

Bossy Girl: If you do not believe that you are promotable and you deserve it, it does not even have to be spoken out loud. People know that. They feel it in their bones. They are not going to promote you, seek you out and push you forward if you do not think that you are worthy of that.

 

Along those lines, how does that happen? When somebody shows up, who tends to come to you and say, “I need to figure some things out here?”

We have a couple of different options and ways of what things can look like. First of all, I have been doing leadership development, servant leadership, and character development for many years. Most of my work has been in the government. What I did was I developed the leadership development institute that was used in Pennsylvania state government and is still the hallmark of leadership development in our state.

What that looked like was a year-long leadership development program that changed the way that people looked at life. It’s not just work or supervising, but what does it mean to be a partner? What does it mean to be a friend, lead a team, and be a wife or a husband? What does that look like and how do we do that well? That is what that looked like for me for many years.

What happened was after my accident and after creating Bossy Girl Leadership, I continued doing long-term leadership development work with the government and with other large agencies. I work within large agencies and build their teams to be the best they can be. That is still what I do. What I realized was there were a lot of women. I had men that worked with me one-on-one also, who came to me and said, “Kristal, I do not know where to go. I do not know what to do.”

I built a community for women who do not necessarily have a government agency or a hospital that they are working with that can come to www.BossyGirl.org and they can join my community. It is $23 a month and we work one-on-one to build their confidence. For men, we do the same thing, but that is more in an individual coaching relationship.

For a lot of what you talk about, I go back to the concept of clear expectations. I put that in there with courage from the standpoint of looking at being promoted within an organization. If I do not have the courage to ask, how do I get to the next step? What am I being evaluated on? Those two things become important. From my experience with organizations, that is where I often see the breakdown. We do not have clear expectations of what is necessary to get us to the next step.

With all of the fear, the war, sickness, loss and loneliness, there are only two things that will help us through this: leadership and purpose. Click To Tweet

I have people that work with me who do incredible work around performance management. If you have not set expectations in your workplace, you must do that. I have one thing that I want to add to that as we are having this conversation around courage, bossy and all of these things. It’s not just women but as leaders, if you do not believe that you are promotable and you deserve it, it does not even have to be spoken out loud. People know that. They feel it in their bones.

They are not going to promote you, seek you out and push you forward if you do not think that you are worthy of that. If you are at a place where you do not think you are worthy of that, that is where we have the start. We have to start looking at our own ability to think that we can meet these expectations. The truth is you would not be where you are if you were not worthy. You can do this. It is understanding that and projecting that to the people that you touch. They need to feel that you know that you are worthy, and then they will probably understand that as well.

It is such an inner talk that we need to have with ourselves.

It is the energy that you are sharing, and people know right away. Is that something they want to be a part of or is it something they don’t want to be a part of? It is interesting when you watch leaders who try to lead with power and control. It is very negative. People know right away, “I will do what you want me to do now but as soon as I can get away from you, I’m out.” The organizations wonder why they have such turnover. People know.

People do not recognize that. Oftentimes, we under-appreciate mindset and how important that is. Years ago, I used to help people interview. I used to volunteer at a group called The Unemployed Professionals. That group used to have people which were over 50 years old. There was this stigma that once you are over 50, it is over. You do not get a job and nobody is going to hire you. I would tell people that if you go in with that mindset of “I’m already behind,” you are done because it bleeds out of you in terms of how you show up. You do not walk and talk the same because, in the back of your mind, you are saying, “I do not deserve to be here. I do not have a shot at this job.”

It is funny that you use the words you did because the first thing that came to my mind was it’s like you are in the ocean and you are bleeding. The sharks smell it and they come for you. The mindset is the same thing. People smell it.

LFL 139 | Bossy Girl

Bossy Girl: There is a rising of people finding their purpose, understanding that courage is possible, and starting to live in the direction of what they were put on this Earth to do. That is where we are going.

 

You are willing to accept less when that happens. If I’m thinking, “I’m over 50. I’m out of the market.” If it does not go your way, you are like, “I knew it was not possible.” It’s the same thing with courage in this regard. If you don’t think you are worthy enough for it, you are willing to not fight for it.

Think about how you are going to perform when you walk into an interview and on this hand, in your mind, you are saying, “They are not going to hire me. I’m too old. I’m over the hill. This is over for me. Why would they even want me? I won’t be here long.” On the other hand, you go into an interview, and you think, “Aren’t they lucky to have my wealth of experience, wisdom, and all of these things that I can bring into their organization that they can’t get from somebody with less experience, how amazing of a difference can I make in their organization. This is going to be an incredible partnership.” Think about how you are going to project yourself with that one mindset versus the other. It is incredible.

As we are wrapping things up, a question comes to mind in terms of we have been in this pandemic and we certainly hear so much now about the Great Resignation and all the people that are leaving their jobs. I’m curious from your perspective, has this environment shifted people in regards to being more open to looking at, “I need to do something different. I’m willing to take a risk here, go out on a limb but things have got to change?”

The answer is an absolute yes. It has changed the way that people look at things. I will say for myself as I look at the Great Resignation, and when I think about it, unfortunately, most of those resignations are women. We have made many steps backward because the household needs somebody at home now. I’m going to share a quick story from my own life.

I’m a single mom what happened over the last few years is every time I would set an appointment, something would happen at daycare, and they would shut down with no notice. I had no one else to support me in that initiative. Consistently, with every step forward I would make, I would make two steps backward because I did not have the support that was normal that other people would have.

My children were not going to school. Daycare was closed. I had no idea what to expect and I could not plan for it. If I was in a different situation, I would have lost my job or had to resign. There would have been no other option. I’m lucky that I have built a community that allowed me to continue through this, but there are many people who have not had that.

Leadership is a choice and we all have an opportunity to choose. Click To Tweet

What I see happening is a rising of people in this time finding their purpose, understanding that courage is possible, and starting to live in the direction of what they were put on this Earth to do. That is where we are going. With all of the fear, the war, sickness, loss and loneliness, there are only two things that will help us through this. One is leadership and two is purpose.

I believe in our resilience, and I know because I have been in the dark. I have walked a path of pain. I truly believe God gave me that path so that I could share it with other people and inspire them to keep going in the darkness. This is darkness and we have the opportunity to keep going if we choose that. Resilience, courage and purpose are there for us. Go after it.

Looking at the environment that we are in, it does provide. For those that are willing to look at it that way, there are huge opportunities here either for personal growth. The organizations that understand that the shift that has happened will attract the best talent and will retain it because they are continually being curious as to what the needs are of the individuals that work for their organization. We are in a different world now. One that will be much better if we choose it to be that way.

Everything about what we believe in and what we do is all a choice. Often, there is a debate on leadership. Is it a skill or is it art? When we define it and you look it up on Google, which one is it in? Oftentimes, it does say it is a skill. I will go against Webster, Google and all of that. I will say that all day, leadership is a choice and we have an opportunity to choose. When you look at leadership skills such as honesty and trust. You do not have to learn how to be honest. You choose to be honest and that is how we become leaders. It is a choice we all have available to us.

If people want to get ahold of you, what is the best way to get in touch with you?

The best way to get in touch with me is at www.BossyGirl.org. Get on there, join the community and reach out. There are a million ways to contact me and the book will be out in the very near future. We are having a good time.

Kristal, thank you so much for this. It is always a pleasure. I knew this was going to be an awesome conversation. I love your energy and what you stand for. I wish you the best of luck.

Thank you. You, too.

 

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About Kristal Murren

LFL 139 | Bossy GirlKristal, the Bossy Girl made her debut in 2016 with a novel idea to redefine BOSSY and help women to own all of their power. This idea became a movement, a wave, that has been adopted by everyone it touches. She is now a renowned motivational speaker, thought leader, influencer and leadership authority, and an up-and-coming best-selling author.

Kristal has motivated leaders to change their lives by discovering their full power while building maximum influence. As women, we are so often not seen or heard. People do not understand all that we have to offer or what impact we bring to the table.

 

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