Leadership is a key component to dealing with workplace bullying. However, most organizational administrators and leaders are not prepared to cope with the workplace bullying culture. Leaders are often promoted due to longevity in an organization rather than their stellar leadership skills. Their lack of skills often leads to the bullying culture but it also means that they are not equipped to manage the bullying environment.
Leadership is the key to managing and stopping the workplace bullying culture. As such, leaders need to understand that it takes real commitment and skill development to cope effectively with a work environment that is plagued with aggression.
First, leaders need to open their eyes and recognize that workplace bullying is a real issue that could be invading their workplace. Workplace bullying is increasing and as such, it is vital that leaders educate themselves on this issue now.Education and training helps leaders develop a clear understanding of the factors that put organizations at risk, such as organizational change or organizational structure. Knowing the basics helps leaders be proactive in addressing workplace aggression rather than reactive. Leaders and administrators who do not understand workplace bullying are most likely intervening in a way that exacerbates the bullying culture. Thus, harming their workers and most definitely ensuring that a workplace bullying culture is developing.
Another advantage of having leaders who understand workplace bullying is that they are able to address the issue appropriately. Many leaders try to intervene in the bullying culture as if it were conflict. If they do this, leaders are inadvertently encouraging and solidifying the workplace bullying culture
As previously stated, leadership directly impacts the bully culture. It is vital that leaders understand bullying, but they must also be aware of how their own leadership style and skills and their own behavior influences the workplace, both positively and negatively. Workers look to leadership for what is and is not acceptable in the workplace. For example, a leader who sends inappropriate emails or allows workers to express poor non-verbal behavior in meetings is setting the stage for aggression to occur. They are essentially saying that unprofessional behavior is acceptable behavior and there is no fear of consequences. In a workplace, leaders need to role model good behavior and hold their workers accountable to professional standards. Holding workers accountable includes providing consequences for poor behavior, and rewarding good behavior.
In all workplace bullying situations, leaders must be able to manage their work environments by active listening and intervening effectively. This means that when accusations of workplace aggression occur, the leader hears them, takes these claims of bullying seriously, and the leader intervenes to ensure a safe work environment.
Intervention is where many leaders drop the ball because they do not know who to believe or what to do. Many leaders are caught up in who said what or who to believe rather than focusing on the issue of workplace aggression. Ensuring that all workers are behaving professionally is a vital step to addressing workplace bullying.
If a leader does not know how to intervene, it is their responsibility to ask for help and figure out the best course of action Leaders may need to seek outside consultation on this issue because many organizations and human resource personnel do not know how to intercede effectively. Leaders must remember that not intervening only enhances the aggression. Lack of intervention is easier at times for leaders, but ultimately makes the work environment more toxic and increases the aggression. It also reinforces the actions of the aggressor, encourages bad professional behavior, and makes the leader’s job much more difficult.
Leaders need to remain objective to ensure that they are treating people fairly and equitable. This type of leaderships creates positive relationships with their workers, but also enhances the relationships amongst workers. Thus, creating a collegial work environment where workplace bullying is less likely to occur and has no chance of flourishing.
Stay tuned for the next blog which will address what leaders need to know to effectively address workplace bullying.