Author Archives: Paul LaRue
A leader usually has the following qualities:
A leader does not mean that that individual is a better person than everyone else. They are only a person with more of something, not better.
Most leaders have these that bring them back to earth:
- More failures
- More worries
- More responsibilities
- More pressure
- More people affected by their leadership if they err
Is it no wonder that the most influential leaders across history have been servant leaders who see themselves as not better, but a role model and example, an inspiration, a source of confidence that the people who follow them feel safe by them.
Leaders are not better unless they make their people better as a whole.
Workplace bullying might seem like a trite expression to describe a situation where an employee can’t handle pressure or reprimands from their boss. Unfortunately that thought eviscerates the recipient and allows the perpetrator to continue on their behavior.
Workplace bullying is real and its affects on the mental and emotional state of people at work should never be minimized or ignored. It creates toxic cultures, high turnover and increased medical costs, not to mention the potential for lawsuits. This Lexis Nexis article shows how bullying behaviors have a financially negative impact on an organization.
Workplace bullying is a subset of emotional abuse, a “power over” control system that also exerts control through a variety of means:
- Emotional abuse in the form of putdowns, name calling, guilt and mind games (either public or private)
- Intimidation, threats and coercion that could threaten reprimands, firing, getting in someone’s face, over-assertiveness and yelling
- Economic control in the form of passed over promotions, withheld bonuses/pay/benefits or threatening demotions and pay cuts
- Other abuse may come in the forms of racial slurs, innuendo or fostering a “good ol’ boys” exclusivity just to name a few
What’s interesting is that many states have declared that emotional abuse and these other behaviors in a home relationship context falls under domestic abuse, which is a crime. While not technically seen as a crime in the workplace at large, it exists to a great degree. In fact, the Workplace Bullying Institute is gaining ground on passing legislation to address this type of toxic behavior from a legal and criminal perspective.
1 in 5 adults in American are the subject of workplace bullying, which equates to about 60 million workers. And according to Monster and Forbes, this number may actually be higher than 40% and rising. While the majority of perpetrators are men and the recipients female or minorities, there is a rising trend of workplace bullying committed by people of all genders, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. A recent study in the UK confirmed 70% of female executives have been bullied by females.
As with every failing in human beings, it’s not an issue bucketed to one demographic of individuals. Simply stated, it’s an issue that comes from the heart of an individual who chooses to exert control in their role to gain a supply of narcissism, power and/or economic advantage over a person or group of people.
As bullies come in many forms, here are a the more common manifestations of a workplace bully to help us identify these perpetrators:
- Overt bullies are those that are very upfront and public. They are the screamers, the intimidators and the control grabbers. They seek to have the last word, put people down in public and squelch certain people’s ability to thrive. They simply want everyone to know who is in control.
- The passive-aggressive bully is more subversive. They do their work in private many times but also can make a public confrontation that seems like they’re just being a strong leader at a given time. They can force someone to do their dirty work for them so their hands are clean from any wrongdoing. They give off-handed remarks and nitpick, sometimes using micro-managing techniques.
- The direct and dominant bully is more elusive. Their strong personality might seem like “that’s just who they are” because they don’t really yell or show the typical aggressive or passive aggressive modes. But they control and bully by being domineering, especially when they don’t get their way. These may be the people who are constantly submitting complaints, going to HR, looking to change policy. They may also align with upper leadership to gain favor and execute their schemes. Because of their tactics, most people back off but this aggression is tolerated too often as a misunderstood personality quirk.
For context, we need to understand that these are not just one-off behaviors. We need to be discerning to understand the difference between a pattern of behavior and certain spikes due to stress. After all, every human being can show an ability to exhibit these behaviors from time to time.
But when a pattern is defined, that’s when the next steps come in. Bullies need to be confronted in a constructive way, and Sherri Gordon’s article in VeryWellMind is a terrific starting resource.
Behaviors of bullies may or may not be corrected, that’s up to the individual’s willingness to be self-aware. Our obligation is to carefully identify it, address it and help the individual weed it out of their heart. If not, then they need to be weeded out of the organization.
As children, when we grew up we always wanted what we wanted. We thought it was the right thing until our parents instructed us otherwise.
You wanted the cookie. Mom said it would spoil dinner.
You wanted to help with the power tools. Dad said when you were older.
You wanted to ride your bike down the road one evening. Your parents said to wait until daylight tomorrow.
You may have been upset. But again, they were there to lead you through your life and keep you safe by looking out for your best interests.
You just didn’t understand what they knew.
Then when we grow up to adults, we still get upset when leaders don’t give us what we want.
Why didn’t I get the promotion, that raise, the recognition for busting my behind? How come we don’t get certain laws passed, progress made, fast action on agendas?
It’s because, just like our parents, our leaders guide us through our adult lives, keeping us safe and looking out for our best interests.
We just may mot understand what they know.
Be a patient, discerning and studious employee, citizen and neighbor. We might be asking amiss. We just need to do our part to mature and understand more of what they know.