How to Become a Lousy Leader – Lesson 2

Most people I know have experienced some form of “Bullying” at work. Sometimes it’s subtle; while at other times it’s there for all to see. When you are on the receiving end, it’s very unpleasant.

Bullying in the workplace reflects poor leadership.

Great leaders motivate and help people achieve their potential. They certainly don’t engage in bullying and they don’t tolerate bullying behaviour by their team members.

The recently amended Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) defines bullying as “repeated unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group that creates a risk to another worker’s health and safety”.

What’s unreasonable under the Act is ultimately determined by the Fair Work Commissioner. Some guidance is provided in the Preventing Bullying at Work publication which suggests that the following behaviour may be unreasonable:

  • Excessive scrutiny at work
  • Setting unreasonable time lines
  • Setting tasks that are unreasonably above or below the person’s ability
  • Withholding important information
  • Deliberate exclusion
  • Unjustified criticism.

As a high performing leader, it is useful to consider the following questions:  

  1. Am I applying an excessive level of scrutiny here?
  2. Are the timelines I am giving reasonable?
  3. Am I being fair in what I am asking my team member to do?
  4. Have I provided all the information they need?
  5. Is the level of scrutiny / criticism I am applying to my team member reasonable?

What would an independent third party say?

Sometimes it’s a fine line. If there is ever any doubt, slow down and take the time to explain your perspective to the person involved. Explain the information you’re relying on. Explain your thinking and the basis for your decisions. Most importantly, explain what you are trying to achieve: for the business, the team, the other person and anyone else that is involved. Listen to what they have to say and respond calmly.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to bullying. It reflects poorly on you and your organisation.

Mark Rosenberg

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