I’ve seen a lot of bad behavior in my years as a consultant and in corporate management. In fact, that’s what motivated me to become a Leadership Coach. I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when they’ve been humiliated by their leader, ridiculed by a co-worker, or left sitting at their desk during lunch while the supervisor takes the rest of the team out for a celebration.
How does a Bully show up?
I always assumed that bullies knew what they were doing, but didn’t care and did it anyway. As a coach, I’ve discovered that sometimes that’s true, but more often the bully isn’t even conscious of what he is doing because he lacks self-awareness. This was obvious recently when I was asked to coach a senior executive who received very negative employee engagement scores — the worst in the company, in fact. Once we started working together I learned that several of her employees and co-workers labeled her a bully. And yet, she had no idea. She thought she was perfectly fair and reasonable and handled herself with poise and grace!
What she really did was:
• Fail to let her employees get a word in – she would start every sentence in a discussion with NO!
• Not give anyone a chance to learn from what had gone well or wrong – she was the first one to tell them how they should have handled it or rather how she would have
• Had the loudest voice and the last word, always
• Left no one in doubt that it was “my way or the highway”
• Never gave an inch and was condescending and caustic if anyone crossed her
People at all levels in the company avoided dealing with her, let alone had any desire to take her on. There was an enormous gap between her intentions and the impact of her behavior, communication and style. Why was this even tolerated? Because she was an SME – a subject matter expert working on a huge global initiative and considered by her boss to be too valuable to lose.
Does anyone on your team act like this – even sometimes? Even if you haven’t had an employee survey, you will notice that some leaders:
• Have a harder job hanging on to employees ………….RETENTION!
• Shut people down, and make them tune out, by talking too much and taking personal credit for other people’s work.……..ENGAGEMENT!
• Lead teams who will do as little as possible and transfer away as soon as they can………PRODUCTIVITY!
No matter the brilliance of some executives or individual contributors, the cost of dealing with bullying behavior is evident in your retention, engagement and productivity results.
The question is – can you afford it