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Sep 9
Leaders, Bullies, and Free Speech at Work

What’s the link between leaders ... bullies ... and free speech, where you work?

Imus got away with intimidation of vulnerable people he bullied … because leaders let it happen … at least until the public threatened action against their radio station. bully.jpg

Recently, a national poll showed that in 72% of cases … the bully is the boss … who for one reason or another is not being confronted. Leaders who bully ... are far less likely to recognize or stop bullying in their organizations.

Does it surprise you to find so many leader-bullies named by workers? Or would it shock you to hear that half the working Americans have suffered or observed workplace bullying?

It’s subtle, and it takes distinctive skills to stop. Bullies misuse tone, for instance, and leaders with poor tone skills may have a difficult time spotting problems in those they lead.

Bullies tend toward Hebbian thinking – based on the way they wire their brains to narrow opinions and stubborn approaches to most topics they encounter.

Differences threaten bullies. To intimidate, they use any tactic they can muster – to shut out those who differ or to diminish those who outperform them. Have we wired our nation's brains and workplaces to default to more bullies than we can handle?

Most agree that bullying behavior destroys business and terrorizes people. Why then, is harassment so prevalent in modern workplaces?

Perhaps more importantly, what would be a transformational leader’s response when bully’s compromise their workplace with rage,  cynicism or jealousy?

1). Is it a risk to free speech to confront the bully – even if that free speech severely limits others’ far more thoughtful speech - through intimidation?

2). Have we rewired an entire nation’s brain against the core elements of good tone that propels a more effective workplace into successful solutions?

3. Are there other ways that leaders can help to  balance bullying with business benefits … through approaches that allow bullies to develop personal intelligences – without silencing those who already have done so?

What do you see as the best tactic for bullies you have encountered?

Could bullies eventually hand our nation the opposite of free speech … where people feel executed because they differ? What do you think?


3 Comments/Trackbacks




You're asking good questions, Ellen. I guess I would ask if someone has gained that much power, why do they sense they have to bully? Seems like bosses that facilitate the best talents of employees will get more in the end. You've cited Google and Wegman's as great examples of this kind of leadership.

Wonder what it would take for bullies to see lifting up the gifts and talents of employees works best for all?

Interesting notion, Robyn, and since the bully often lacks mental skills to operate in caring ways -- it may take more than a look at mutual benefits to turn the tides:-).

Sounds like a great motivator to inspire a new start in that direction though! It takes guts to even face the bully in the first place -- especially those who've won position, and power by sharp skills to cut down others.

Sounds like a case for a united front against bullying practices could crack open a new window here:-). What do you think?

» How To Change Your Company's Customer Service from CustomersAreAlways
"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means." --Albert Einstein Albert Einstein was truly a genius.  He knew exactly what to say and in this quote I felt very inspired.  I'm reminded... [Read More]

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