Creative Leadership

It’s Official: Your Bullying Boss Really Is An Idiot

Nathanael Fast and Serena Chen at UC Berkeley just released a study reported in New Scientist that your bullying boss really is an idiot.  (As if we needed proof).  As they report, “Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don’t feel they can show that legitimately, they’ll show it by taking people down a notch or two.”  With 54 million Americans experiencing workplace bullying, at least we have actual proof that it’s a problem.

It’s insecurity my friends.  Someone who’s secure in their position and competence doesn’t have to resort to pushing people around.  Only insecure leaders need to prove their authority by being a jerk.  As John Maxwell says, “If you think you’re a leader but no one’s following you, then you’re not a leader, you’re just out for a walk.”

I’m curious.  Is your boss a bully?  And if so, how do you deal with it?

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  1. I have to say that in my dozen or so jobs I’ve had, I’ve been pretty blessed.  Never really worked for a jerk.  I’ve been in some pretty bad situations, but never because my boss was a jerk (they weren’t exactly angels, either).  I think I tend to believe in empowerment.  When folks feel properly empowered, they don’t need to throw their weight around.  I realize that’s a little idealistic, but I’ll at least start there.

  2. being a boss/leader is difficult. A good leader pushes others above himself. wants whoever is under him /her to succeed and makes sure of it even if it is extra work for them. To lead, to first teach while they watch, then do it together, then do it while the leader watches ready to help if a misstake is made…..not so in my expierience lately. no real taching done, then put out on my own, then when i made a mistake and didnt even know it was a mistake because i wasnt taught was written up and still not taught, made another unknowingly mistake and then fired. dont understand sometimes, i was also bullied by the fault finding boss, never praised for the good i did, the night before i was fired i saved a womens life….iam a nurse

  3. I worked with one of these “bulleys” as you’ve described them so perfectly.   It got so bad, i had to resign- in this economy no less.   Through a rather unsavory path, this person won a management position she wasn’t ready for, and was put in charge of people who were more skilled than her in a number of ways. In order to assert her dominance, she would publically humiliate me to the point where I had three options: 1) stand up for myself and likely getting fired, or 2) take it and swallow any trace of dignity left, or finally 3) quit and look for a better job. Not saying good bye to this “bulley boss” on my last day was a conscious decision and I’m confident she got the message.  It also reflects poorly on “bulley bosses” when their employees would rather go jobless in a recession than work under them…

  4. We use to sneak up on bullies and stick ugly notes on their backs – things like “Kick me” or “I’m an idiot.”  Maybe we created bullys on the kindergarten playgrounds of America.  If you want to eliminate bullies, become a kinder, gentler bully yourself!

  5. Yes, I had a boss that could best be described as a bully. Fortunately for me, my husband was his boss, so after a few years of struggling to follow him, my position was changed, and though I’m no longer doing a job that I’m very good at (someone else was hired for that position) it was a  relief. Following that, however, he also was a bully as a co-worker. He recently resigned citing differences with leadership, and now wants to “talk it out with me,” I believe in hopes of becoming friends. No thanks.

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