Be passionate. Be honest. But don’t be a bully
Bullying. It’s a word that’s rarely out of the headlines these days. From Whitehall to the racetrack to our emergency services, it seems that many leaders have a problem with abusive behaviour within their organisations.
I count myself lucky that in all the years I have been in business, I’ve never had to deal with this cultural phenomenon within my team. My businesses have all won awards for being great places to work.
It’s not all luck, however. I pride myself in being very clear about the kind of behaviour I find unacceptable in the workplace. I am a spiritual man, who lives by a set of unshakable principles. I try and avoid extremes of emotion, for example – I am very rarely angry or frustrated. If I do lose my temper, I know to take a beat and remove myself from the situation rather than say something I might regret later. I try to lead with empathy, putting myself into other people’s shoes whenever I can.
I also try and emphasise the positive contributions that people make, taking them on the journey with me. If you make your colleagues feel valued and supported, they bring their best selves to work and there are fewer disagreements.
Of course, you can’t control every variable. There will always be people within your organisation that don’t get on, or rub each other up the wrong way. But the key is to create a workplace culture that makes it clear bullying will not be tolerated and sets out a process for diffusing troubling situations between members of the team.
The world has changed a lot in the time that I’ve been an entrepreneur. It used to be totally acceptable for company bosses to rant and rave at their people (not that I ever did). Leaders didn’t think of team members as equals, but as workers – only one step up from servants really. Bosses were never called by their first names. Humiliation and fury were used to discipline people, creating a toxic environment for many.
These days, it’s all about leading with empathy. You have to adjust your tone and style of leadership for each individual, understanding what might motivate one person will leave another colleague in tears. It’s a lot more complex to be a leader today but the workplace is much better off because of this evolution.
If you want to make sure you eradicate bullying from your organisation, or ensure it never rears its ugly head in the first place, follow these five rules:
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