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Executive Director, About Leaders
Founder & Managing Editor, About Leaders
President, MatchPoint Learning
Area Training Manager
Vanguard Organizational Leadership
Martin Leadership Development
Founder of Nuance Leadership
Author of ThoughtShedder
DoD Performance Improvement Consultant
Organizational Psychology Consultant
Managing Partner for WEpiphany
Years ago, my son, a new age-worthy boy scout, asked me about a topic he’s heard before and was mentioned more often in his new scout unit.
He asked: What is leadership?
I often share variations of the answer I gave him years ago, and to be honest I don’t recall the exact words I said then. But this is fairly close:
Leadership is about our ability to connect and influence people, so to obtain a followership to achieve an end goal.
My last two articles Leaders Beware, Good People Bully Too and Unexpected Leadership Skills focused on how easy it is for managers, as I was, to bully their staff without even knowing that we are doing it.
It's always easier to spot bullying behavior in other managers.
What we should be focusing on is our behavior and the fact that we may be intimidating our staff and developing cultures where fear definitely exists.
In this article, I want to share two steps that supervisors can take to determine whether or not their staff is feeling bullied and how to prevent it. These steps are understanding the concept of self-deception and requesting feedback from direct reports.
A few months ago, a friend told me that her boss had been bullying her.
Although it was obvious that her manager’s behavior involved tactics that were aggressive, humiliating and intimidating, my friend was unable to make a stand against this onslaught as she found it hard to prove that her manager was operating against established rules and policies.
Essentially, it was her word against her manager.
It was also scary, as my friend felt that her job was in jeopardy.
How often have you felt the pressure from peers whether implicitly or explicitly, to downplay an idea that might lead to positive change?
If it happens to you often, the organizational culture around you may lean against change. In fact, I have written on fundamental tendencies in human nature called homeostasis that could lean us in that direction naturally.
The question is: what are you promoting?
A couple of months ago, I started a discussion on bullying in the About Leaders LinkedIn group to help a friend who is being bullied by her boss. As with many bullying bosses, my friend’s manager feels completely justified in her behavior and does not see anything wrong with her approach.
Little did I know that, through this discussion, I was going to end up closing a long, painful chapter of a bullying situation of my own. A situation in which I was the bully and felt justified for MY actions.
The bullying-awareness climate today marks an interesting turning point in human civilization.
I don’t recall such a public focus on bullying before, even though bullying is something most of us have seen or experienced in our lives. I especially appreciate articles by experts such as About Leaders author Dr. Annette Roter that can help us recognize bullying and improve our understanding of the topic. If you haven’t read Dr. Roter’s articles I highly encourage you to do so.
We have an opportunity to evolve so I hope the energy and momentum behind the public focus is sustainable. Unfortunately, public energy and momentum can involve the same nature that goes awry with bullying and as such may not produce real solutions.
Workplace bullying has become the focal point of a number of news articles in recent months. Bullying on the play ground has been happening for many years. I remember my first bully in school. He was the same age as my brother and would pull my hat over my face and shove me head first into the snow bank. It was not until my “hero”, (my brother) came to save me, did the behavior stop.Now, the bully in the workplace is not shoving people into snow banks or throwing sand in one’s face because they have a crush on you. The bully in the work place is a combination of the narcissist, the abusive employee, or destructive leader. The bully can and does encompass one or several of these traits.
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