Bullying isn’t leadership

Why bullying managers are crappy managers.

Most of us have worked for a bullying manager at some point.  And it’s unfortunate because it’s really counterproductive.  Management by bullying isn’t management at all.

A manager is supposed to organize and coordinate the activities that must be done to run a business. That puts them “in control.”  But the term “control: is a very poor word choice. When it comes to “controlling” other humans, it can’t be done.

We humans are autonomous individuals.  You can ask us to do things. You can beg us to do things. You can threaten us if we don’t do things. But at the end of the day, you can’t force us to do anything. You simply cannot control another human being. Heck, most people can’t even control themselves all that well.

The challenge of a manager is not only how to best coordinate the things that need to be done, but also how to get the people who are supposed to get things done to do their jobs.

Some managers, who have no idea how to get people to do their jobs, resort to bullying. They threaten their staff and demean them as a way to exercise some amount of social control. They do this because that’s what has always worked for them. And while they may gain compliance, they cause all sorts of other problems, including diminished problem solving ability and initiative as very few of their employees are going to risk sticking their neck out to solve a problem.

Other managers may bully accidentally because they aren’t good at handling anxiety. When they get stressed, they express their stress through abusive behavior towards their staff.  And again, while they may gain some compliance as a result of these “outbursts” the quality of the problem solving their team does is diminished because most people don’t do good problem solving when they are being yelled at.

If you want an effective team that is good at solving problems, you can’t afford to let a bully manage them. Because what a bully boss is doing isn’t management: its harassment.

In order to manage people well, you have to understand and recognize the inherent autonomy of the individuals on your staff. You have to consider yourself part of the team and not the controller of the team. Your job is to coordinate the work and to motivate the staff to work. A good manager helps their staff want to do the work that is required of them.  When things go wrong, they work collaborative with their staff to solve the problem. No bullying required.

If you currently work for a bullying boss – consider taking “Ending Harassment & Retaliation in the Workplace” https://humanistlearning.com/retaliation1/  

If you are an HR Professional or are in a position of executive leadership and want to learn how to eliminate bullying in your workplace – take: Workplace Bullying for HR professionals: https://humanistlearning.com/workplacebullying1/

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