Passive Leadership Bullying

There is not much that can be said to justify the nature of a bully.  Bullies are demoralizing and leave the world worse off for it.  However, they are upfront about their bullying tactics leaving no question as to their motives and where they are coming from.  In a business climate leadership bullying is not often acceptable so leadership bully’s have resorted to a more passive form of bullying that flies under the HR radar but has the same demoralizing affect on people.  Case in point – Getting on a leader’s “Bad List”.  Once an employee is on the “Bad List” there is no getting off.  This is a form of passive bullying.  It passes the leadership tough test but leaves people demoralized and with a sense of hopelessness.  The leader should just come out and directly say “you will never be good enough”.

Another popular form of passive leadership bullying is targeting people to not extend trust to.  Selecting individuals out of the vital information stream, not including them on teams, not including them on the list of public compliments, and systematically not asking specific individuals for their feedback and opinions.  The under the radar theme is that they are not worthy of being trusted and their basic human premise has no value.  On an emotional level, this activity is equivalent to the bigger bully pushing the skinny little geeky kid into the dirt.  The message is, “you’re a useless nobody” and “I determine your worth and you will never be as powerful as me”.

As with physical bully’s, leadership bully’s have one common goal – to feel good and garner respect by demonstrating power and control at the cost of another person’s self esteem.  This power is evident, but comes with a cost to the organization in the form of low productivity.  What is interesting is that leadership bullying is not as self evident as physical bullying so neither the leader nor the organization is quick to recognize its disparaging presence because at face value, it’s just a leader taking charge, making the tough decisions, and utilizing human resources efficiently.  Leadership bullying is like a software loop running in the leaders background  that drives why the leader took an action, not the action they took.  So if you or somebody in the organization displays these kinds of behaviors you have to ask are they leading, or bullying.