We need leaders – not bullies

We need leaders – not bullies

Travis Schultz

I’ve often heard it said that those who yearn to have power or control but who lack the emotional intelligence to be leaders are instead drawn into bullying-type behaviors. But I wonder whether that’s always true?

Is it really frustration or a lack of insight that leads to bullying conduct, or is it some sort of personality-driven pre-disposition?

In business, leadership is undoubtedly a key ingredient in the success of any organisation. After all, without a strong and strategically gifted custodian of the rudder, any enterprise is at increased risk of failure. But when does strength of character not equate to performance within the organization? And when does a dominant personality in the C-suite become a barrier to enterprise success?

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert on leadership, but I do know what styles of leadership neither I, nor those who have worked for me, have been able to warm to. And I could be wrong, but I reckon the central ingredients are humility and trust. If the team don’t engage with their leader and believe that they are taking them (and the organization) in the right direction, they wont want to stay on the bus. To me, a great leader has courage, vision, an ability to think strategically and the resolve and commitment to see a plan properly executed. They will have integrity, empathy and a good dose of humility as well as an innate sense of how their conduct impacts on those that they lead.

Sadly, these personality features are largely lacking in this populist world that we now live in. We seem to mistake a loud voice for strength of character, and misconstrue arrogance as aggression. An obvious example, sadly, is found in the Oval Office. America elects a narcissistic personality as its President and the Whitehouse suddenly has more revolving doors than turnstiles in Suncorp Stadium! The turnover rate under Donald Trump has been record-setting, and many have had tenures of the shortest duration in history! Think of senior appointments like Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and National security Advisor Michael Flynn! Highly capable and experienced advisers lost due to a misalignment with the leadership approach.

Too often we excuse bullying behavior by identifying it as simply an anger management or impulse control issue. Or by blaming it on low self-esteem or lack of insight. But I don’t buy that. I want a leader who takes responsibility for their actions. One who has empathy and shows respect for others. I want a leader that I can trust. We should rightly have zero tolerance for bullying.


5 Responses

  1. Sandra says:

    Great read, and agree on all points. Leadership is built on trust, transparency, communication and inclusiveness.

  2. Mel says:

    Have dealt with this personally in the workforce and now and advising my son on this matter in his workplace as a casual employee while studying…. I agree 100% with your view on this.

  3. Gail Hunter says:

    Too true Travis – it’s a pity the majority of “leaders” among us don’t think it applies to them! Well expressed 🍷

  4. David Tonuri says:

    Always well worthwhile for a leader to ask themselves “so why would anyone want to be led by you?” and if you can’t come up with a worthwhile answer, then best to look for something else to do!

  5. Chris Turner says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Travis. We expect our kids to play nicely and share, yet in the “grown up world’ such attributes are far too scarce, perhaps even frowned upon.

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