The major point that workplace bullies miss about how to lead effectively


We talk about the tactics a workplace bully uses to exert his or her power over a target:

  • False accusations of mistakes and errors
  • Exclusion and “the silent treatment”
  • Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
  • Behind-the-back sabotage and defamation
  • Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism
  • Unreasonably heavy work demands
  • Rumors and gossip
  • Making offensive jokes or comments, verbally or in writing
  • Discounting achievements and stealing credit for ideas or work
  • Disciplining or threatening job loss without reason
  • Taking away work or responsibility without cause
  • Blocking requests for training, leave or promotion
  • Pestering, spying, stalking, or tampering with personal belongings and equipment

What great leadership looks like
So we know what dysfunctional behavior looks like. But what about great leadership? What outlook or tools does a great leader use to create healthy, happy, empowered employees that workplace bullies don’t?

In his article on “How to build a culture of architects,” writer Steven James Lawrence says we need to feel like we matter:

Movements throughout history have proven that this idea is universal to all human beings. More than feeling like we matter, we want to feel like we’re contributing. We want our specific skills, talents, and insights to be valued and utilized. We want to have a sense of agency in the work we do. We want to be architects.

Lawrence says that to get employees to feel like they matter, encourage these values:

1.  Participation
A healthy, successful organization not only invites participation in decision-making on all levels but also actively works to ensure that participation occurs. Participation can happen through weekly meetings, collaborative online documents, and democratized media threads, for example. The key is to create regular structures for participative decision making that guarantee that this is “the way we do business here.” However, meetings are only useful when there is a commitment to allowing all topics to be discussed.

2.  Open communication
Both verbal and written communication should be open as often as possible to encourage trust. By encouraging open communication, leaders can make it easy for people to surface difficult issues. Without open communication, misunderstandings may arise, undermining trust and losing an opportunity for exchanging ideas and creating innovative solutions.

3.  Shared responsibility
Most leadership researchers point out that the best leaders grow other leaders. The best leaders actively transfer authority and power to others. They know the organization rises and falls not on the power of charismatic individuals but on sustainable, mission-driven values and skills passed on to others.
By sharing leadership, we share responsibility. And most welcome it. It feels good to exercise all of our strengths and skills for the benefit of the organization’s mission. In this kind of culture, there is a real sense that the whole organization belongs to everyone in it. Shared responsibility can have an amazing impact on motivation and purpose.

For more information on how to lead well, visit


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