Overbearing, unkind, and predatory behavior is characteristic not of leaders, but of people who are overbearing, unkind, and predatory—women and men. The kind of destructive behavior we attribute to strong women is usually carried out by women who are hurting—whether they're strong leaders or not. In fact, in my experience women commonly attack one another not because they believe they're strong, but because they don't—they feel weak, powerless, and threatened by the other women around them. Sometimes they're being bullied regularly (perhaps by the men in their lives) and they're trying to assert some control and dominance to give themselves a sense of value. Such women need compassion—along with strong boundaries. They don't need the kind of dismissal that feeds the lack of self-respect that caused them to lash out in the first place.
The less women feel it's acceptable to dismiss themselves, the less threatened they'll feel by the women around them with the courage and calling to lead. And on this, perhaps we who are leaders need to set the example by being respectful of women at all times, especially in what we say about each other.
Amy Simpson is Editor of SmallGroups.com and Kyria's Marriage & Parenting resources, and a freelance writer and the author of Into the Word: How to Get the Most from Your Bible (NavPress).