Bullies disgust me.
At dictionary.com, a bully is defined as a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people. That seems to be a pretty good definition to me.
So who are bullies?
Parents who demean their children privately or publicly and set out to make the child feel bad about themselves. Jerry Sandusky was a bully. He overpowered children because of his position. Adolph Hitler was a bully.
In the business world, anyone who leverages his or her title or position of authority to demean other people who can’t respond directly to them for fear of losing their job is a bully. Anyone who swears at an employee and the employee is not able to respond in kind for fear of losing their job is a bully. Anyone who cuts off another person every time he or she makes a comment that they don’t agree with is a bully.
When you have a bully employee you are at a crossroads as a business leader. If you knowingly allow the bully to continue on as in the past, you no longer are a business leader. That is why the outrage against Penn State has so much validity. It was the ultimate example of a combination of a horrible bully AND a lack of leadership to do the right thing in addressing the bully and taking away his power and punishing him. The aftereffects continue to rain down on the university.
In your organization, stand up as a leader whenever confronted with a situation of dealing with a bully and remove the person’s ability to demean others. If need be, remove the person. Bullies destroy cultures. The culture, which is how people consistently act, is what produces results. A culture with known bullies will eventually collapse the organization and a lot of innocent people will be hurt. That is one of the most powerful lessons from the Jerry Sandusky – Joe Paterno saga.
As a business leader, keep that in mind the next time you know that someone is bullying another person.