October 20, 2013

Bullying Culture = 1 – Growth of a Leader = 0

Doug Lawrence







You will recall an article that I wrote a couple of weeks ago regarding a conversation that I had with a colleague of mine. My colleague was going through some tough times in the workplace at the expense of a classic bully. The part that was most disturbing was that this behavior had become acceptable and senior management was doing nothing to curtail the behavior.

I had a follow-up conversation with my colleague only to find out that he is no longer working in this organization – a choice that he did not make. The manner in which he was released of his responsibilities was demeaning but typical of what we would expect of a bully. I assured him that he was on to bigger and better things hopefully in an organization that was not supportive of work place bullying. I reflected back on places that I had been and could recall similar situations where bullying had taken place, management did little if anything to address it, they marketed their organization as a desired place of work, they had a high level of disengagement.

I could see the journey that my colleague was on having seen this in other organizations. The end result was only a matter of time. You ask yourself though why did this happen? My colleague demonstrated leadership skills – skills that could be fine-tuned and enhanced resulting in a great leader. In some cases great leaders are feared in an organization that supports a bullying culture. That is the case where my colleague was working. He was being bullied as he has followers – followers that do so because they believe in his vision and service to their clients. They are not following out of fear and intimidation.

You could see the relief in my colleagues face. You could see the bounce back in his step. You can’t help but imagine the toll that this took on him personally and on his family. Unfortunately a bully does not think about that – they only care about number one. You wonder what it must be like to live in the home of a bully. Perhaps they are being bullied at home and this is their way of regaining their self-esteem.

I have done a lot of reflecting since all of this started to happen. I referenced some of my reflection when I was on the radio talk show “The Platform” with host Oscar Bimpong. I have seen bullying in other organizations and realized that we did nothing to combat it at the expense of the victims. By doing nothing we were building a culture where bullying was acceptable. We did not realize the impact that it had on our most important asset – our people. We did not realize that having to deal with bullying on a daily basis can cause us to become disengaged in the work place. Disengagement results in lost productivity and an increase in complacency all of which has an impact on the bottom line in the organization. Customers/clients can tell when they walk into your organization if this is a great place to do business. They will walk down the street to your competitor if they are dealing with employees who are full of negative energy. Negative energy is a characteristic of a bully.

I have mixed emotions when it comes to my colleague. I am happy that he is out of the bullying culture and is free to use his leadership skills in an organization that believes in its people. I am sad though, that he had to experience this as it takes its toll and can have a longer term effect on a person. This is perhaps an organization that is not ready to embrace the “power of mentoring” and with the lack of leadership talent – can they afford not to?






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