Have you ever encountered a boss or manager who was more of a bully than a leader? Someone who is more of a “driver” of others rather than one who leads by example and as a result it encourages others to follow? Someone who maximizes problems rather than seeking out solutions? Someone who magnifies your shortcomings rather than magnifying what you do well? If you work for someone like this, I feel for you. Very often bosses or managers like this are insecure themselves, and rather than reveal their own vulnerabilities, it’s easier to build themselves up at the expense of tearing others down. Namie (2017) mentions that an alarming 61% of bullies in the workplace are bosses, and 40% of the targets of bullying suffer adverse health effects. Seriously?!
What are some signs that your boss is a bully?
Does your boss demean you in front of others (or even in private)?
Does your boss magnify your mistakes as though it’s the end of the world?
Does your boss verbally threaten your job?
These are indications that you may have a bully for a boss. Additionally, not all are overt bullies. There are those who are covert. Dealing with this kind of boss, it’s more like the luck of the draw in terms of who to expect from day to day—kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation.
How then do you respond to a bully? Do you quit and find another job? You could…but wisdom says that he who fights and runs away will come to fight another day. What you’re unwilling to confront will never change. You could find yourself running from job to job trying to avoid conflict. When dealing with a bully, communication—as well as documentation—are key. Document any encounter with a bullying boss. Address your concerns with your boss and document the results. Stand firm and be confident. Bullies only bully who they can. Bullying in the workplace is no different than growing up with bullies on the playground. After attempting to resolve the issue with the boss, and there is no resolve, remember that’s what your Human Resources department is for. HR is there to support any organization’s most valuable resource—their human resource.
Not all bosses are leaders. There is a difference. Do you have a boss or a leader?
Boss - Drives Employees Leader - Leads employees by example
Boss - Uses Employees Leader - Develops employees and future leaders
Boss - Demands Respect Leader - Earns Respect and respects others
Boss - Makes others feel inferior Leader - Makes others feel valued
Peter Drucker said it best (Alina, 2013), “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we"; they think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” Leaders are lifelong learners, and leaders are lasting...mere bosses are temporal. An effective leader leads him or herself in such a way that it inspires others to follow. Why? Because they realize the value in building others. It takes absolutely nothing away from you to build someone else.