Workplace Wisdom

14 Aug 2018

How to Handle Colleagues Who Respond to the Leader and Ignore You

Have you ever worked with someone who seemed like a heat-seeking missile when it came to power, authority, and status? Whether they’re frontline service reps or senior vice presidents, these individuals turn toward their bosses the way flowers turn toward the sun — cultivating that relationship over all others, always trying to derive some tangible benefit from their personal connection with the leader. Leaders can get attached to these employees because they’re usually very reliable within their particular sphere of […]

08 Mar 2016

Primary Prognosis: You Can’t Be Conflict-Averse and Win

Any leader who doesn’t stand up when it’s time to stand up will not be a successful leader for the long term. A leader who is consistently unable or unwilling to stand up won’t ever get the chance to see if he could win in a fair, rule-based competition. Instead, as the saying goes, he’ll have to take his bat and ball and go home. For a Bully, Silence Doesn’t Mean Strength This post is about executive leadership, not politics, […]

02 Aug 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part VI: When You’re the Bully’s Boss

Recognizing a Bully As a manager, you might not know that you have a bully reporting to you. Depending on a bully’s style, you may never observe an inappropriate interaction yourself. In these difficult times, employees often stay in jobs even if they’re unhappy, so turnover might not have increased. The bully’s departmental results may be wonderful, and you might not even hear any complaints from subordinates and colleagues — particularly if they are afraid of retaliation, feel guilty, or […]

26 Jul 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part V: Can the Group Bring a Bully Into Line?

Can a work group resolve a bully problem without the intervention or support of senior management? Several readers raised this question with the concern that it can be inconvenient, impractical, or downright useless to try to get a senior exec involved. It’s very difficult to change a bully’s behavior. It’s hard for bullies to give up the nasty business that has “worked” for them for so long, or for them to recognize that they’re hurting others. Workplace bullies usually think […]

19 Jul 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part IV: The Grand Bully, An Odd Illustration

Because I’ve been writing about bullying for the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing behavior which, although it may not seem so bad at first, can rise to the level of bullying if it’s repeated, consistent, or purposeful. I’ve wondered, for example, if a person who has an ongoing practice of begging and wheedling could be considered a bully. These behaviors typically connote weakness or subservience, but based on the working definition of bullying from The Bully Pulpit, Part I: […]

12 Jul 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part III: A Bevy of Bullies

Have you ever been bullied at work? You might be surprised at the wide variety of bullying styles, from raging and being overt about their use of power to demure and definitely under the radar. Here’s how to tell the difference between a bully and a boss who just happens to be stern, demanding, or downbeat, as well as descriptions of several common bully types. The Impact of a Bully A Bullying Boss typically tries to control employees’ activities, work […]

28 Jun 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part I: Out of the Schoolroom, Into the Boardroom?

Recently, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to deal with bosses — and occasionally co-workers — who are bullies. I’m wondering if bullying is generally on the rise in tandem with the clinically noted increase in narcissism in the population at large, because both involve a focus on the self to the detriment of others. It certainly makes sense that there would be more bullying at work these days, both in response to the current and pervasive sense […]


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