Don't be a bully

Drake Editorial Team

There is no room for bullying in effective leadership. Leaders must be held to a higher standard. Years ago in the 70’s and 80's, tough autocratic leadership that often bordered on bullying was viewed as effective. That's just not the case today. Employees won't put up with it. Good employees will leave. It is a statistical fact that the motivation for most employees to leave a company to work elsewhere is not money. Typically their reason for leaving is related to leadership and their relationship with their supervisor.

There are some very important things that you often don't learn until you have accepted an employment offer. One major learning experience is that at some point in your career you may just have a boss that is a jerk, the kind who uses his or her authority to torment subordinates. Bullying bosses scream, often with the goal of humiliating you. Or, you may run into other employees (your peers) that try to control your behaviour by bullying.


What is Bullying?

Simply put being a bully means that you repeatedly show disrespect for the individual with unreasonable requests, undesirable language and strong emotions that can be threatening. These actions are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate or undermine the individual's stature in the workplace. Without question it is an abuse of power. Employees become defenceless, and their right to dignity is diminished.

Don't confuse bullying with passion, or someone being assertive or aggressive. Bullying is married to repetition. Repeated attacks are the foundation of bullying. It becomes a pattern. Companies need assertive employees. Companies need employees to be aggressive and passionate about what they do. But...companies cannot afford to have a bully.

Bullies may demonstrate the following behaviour:

  • Excessive criticism without constructive feedback and coaching
  • Spontaneous blame placed without justification
  • Swearing even if it isn't directed totally at the individual
  • Intentionally not being included in activities
  • Talking unfavourably about employees to other employees
  • Micro managing specific individuals
  • Giving unrealistic deadlines and demands

Avoiding being a bully doesn't mean you have to let the inmates run the asylum. It doesn't mean that you can't build a culture of discipline or accountability. A tough boss may just be a tough boss and not a bully. Being tough as a boss is okay as long as you are respectful, trusting, fair, consistent, have character, and demonstrate a high level of integrity.


Simple Rules for Effective Leadership 

  • You must be curious
  • You must maintain a sense of history but seek innovation and creativity
  • You must have a sense of urgency
  • You must have a clear & consistent vision that is unique and serving
  • You must have passion
  • You must develop respect & trust from your employees
  • You are investing (even if it is with debt) to grow your business
  • Good people want to join you & stay with you
  • You have high profit & high growth
  • You have a clear & compelling vision
  • Your team has created a strategic plan or contingency plan during turbulent times
  • You seek to exploit opportunities
  • You trust & respect your employees
  • You create innovative initiatives - embracing change


Effective Leaders Don't Have To Know It All

A mistake many leaders make is the self-imposed responsibility to have all the answers. This is just not true. It is okay to admit to not having all the answers. Good leaders are willing to show their imperfections. Surround yourself with a solid executive team and you don't need all the answers. No one expects perfection, just leadership. Being an executive doesn't grant you supreme knowledge.


Four keys to integrity:

  1. Know what you believe. It is your core essence. It makes you who you are. You must have a clear set of values
  2. Trust what you believe. Don't be afraid to stand up for your beliefs
  3. Live what you believe. Walk the walk
  4. Share what you believe. Mentor & coach employees

Effective leaders go through a never ending development process that includes education, self-study, training, experience, coaching and mentoring from one or several individuals that have a very positive influence on their personal development. Leadership is the ability to influence, inspire and motivate others to accomplish specific objectives. It's not about getting your way through intimidation or threats. It includes creating a culture that helps direct the organization in such a way that it makes it cohesive and coherent, keeping short term tactical goals and objectives in alignment with long term strategic initiatives. The success of leadership in this process is directly influenced by the individual leaders' beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills.


Position and Title

Position and title may give you power, but power in itself does not make you an effective leader. To become an effective leader there are specific skill sets that you must understand and master. This does not come naturally. It takes dedication, passion and commitment to the process. That commitment, dedication and passion includes a tireless effort to improve on specific skills and the development of a personal leadership methodology.


Characteristics of an Effective Leader:

  • They have a sense of urgency
  • They project and articulate the Vision
  • They encourage stretch goals
  • They develop trust and a spirit of teamwork
  • They create realistic expectations for success
  • They promote an environment of respect, trust and belief
  • They are honest. They do the right thing with no hidden agendas
  • They have integrity. They are responsive, recognizing employee value
  • They believe in employee empowerment
  • They are passionate and committed
  • They motivate and inspire
  • They are effective coaches and mentors
  • They understand that they don't have to have all the answers
  • They create an end game and assign a strategy team to develop the strategic plan

Academics tell us a leader's role is to serve those people that report to him/her. He or she is not a dictator and not a bully. Their ultimate role is to serve and to allow their people to achieve their goals. It's a style that starts by asking: “What do you want to accomplish?”, rather than telling them what you want to accomplish.

Rick Johnson is an expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist, and founder of CEO Strategist, LLC.CEO Strategist helps clients create and maintain a competitive advantage.Contact Rick at rick@ceostrategist.com to speak at your next event. www.ceostrategist.com


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