“Spunky” and “Steel Magnolia” are two names given to me during my early and later professional years. But, what do they mean?
Spunky means “courageous and determined.” Websters Dictionary does not include a definition for Steel Magnolia, but I first heard it in the movie by the same name. Wikipedia says it is “(chiefly Southern US). A woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity and an uncommon fortitude.”
When I was selected for my first administrator’s job in education, the woman who introduced me said I had spunk. My employees in the office quickly picked up on that and called me “spunky,” a name to tease me when we took on a problem that they were not sure we should undertake. Sometimes, “spunky” became, “She’s just trying to live up to her spunky title.” They usually went along with me or completely talked me out of it, but I must admit I liked the nickname.
Steel Magnolia was the code name a police officer gave me when I needed some protection as a university president. I liked the description, “uncommon fortitude,” and heard it used more than once. However, watching the movie, “Steel Magnolias,” I often wondered which character they thought I represented.
Nicknames for supervisors, bosses, managers, even CEO’s are commonplace, and I am sure I was called some other names that they did not tell me. I also know that nicknames for children can be used to tease, unmercifully, even bully. I am not interested in those names and consciously work against bullying. Even labels, over generalizations of religious, political, and social views can be used to discriminate. I want no part of those nicknames, either.
I am interested in what other leaders know they are called that they enjoy or strive to live up to. I even allowed my nicknames, “spunky” and “steel magnolia” to be placed on the back book cover of my leadership book. What nicknames would you like to see in print? Send me your nicknames by way of my message site, Shirley Raines, on LinkedIn or to my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.