April 16th, 2013

Are leaders willing to give up bullying as a crutch?

Bullying in the workplace exists. It always has. We’ve provided the U.S. national prevalence statistics since 2007. But let’s say you just “stumbled upon” the term for status-blind harassment that is legal and unaddressed in American businesses.

Everyone knows it is wrong and immoral. It is costly in a million ways. But it is sustained.

You may even have crafted a policy to address the problem, however timidly.

It will NEVER stop unless and until senior leaders say “no, not in my organization.” Why do they resist? Where in their human heart is the lust for cruelty and abuse? You say, they are not bad people. Yet, everyday, they allow the pattern of abuse to continue. They’ve been told, but ignore it or, more likely, spin it as a criticism of one of their favorite buddies. No action is ever taken.

Bullying becomes a crutch for executives too afraid to do the right thing for fear of offending buddies. They may be marketing gurus or genius innovators, but with respect to stopping bullying for the sake of employee health and the long-run fitness of their organizations, they have a blind spot, a pool of incompetence.

Just as bullying masks the aggressor’s personal shortcomings or lack of skill, for executives, indifference toward it masks their inability to deal with tough or controversial problems, their aversion to chaos and conflict, their indifference to needs of non-supervisory workers.

Serious solutions to bullying cannot be undertaken until leaders “get it.” They have to subordinate their buddy relationships (and this is gender neutral, the same goes for women executives) to the good of the company and favor the vast majority of the workers. Call it populist. Call it taking care of the majority upon whom productivity relies. Call it common sense. Call it maturing.

Until the willingness to let go of buddies is reached, all anti-bullying initiatives will be stillborn or ineffective.

Said one former director of a federal agency to us in response to our recommendation that the bully be terminated: “No I won’t do that. He’s a great conversationalist and a lunch buddy.”

As long as this is the American business mantra regarding bullying, targets and companies and government agencies are doomed.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 8:00 am and is filed under Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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