Thursday, 25 February 2010
Do Business Bullies Win?
The debate about alleged bullying at Number 10 has got me thinking about bullying bosses in the business world and I am in danger of drawing the conclusion that bullying bosses often win the battle! What do you think?
Business bullying takes many forms. I've seen managers who shout and swear at their staff and suppliers. I've worked with the subtle psycological bully that wears you down and leaves you in tears. Jovial bullies who steamroller right over the top of you whilst smiling and laughing. Nasty pieces of work who get a kick out of making your life hell in the office. They are all out there in the business world and if you are going to hunt in the business jungle you are going to encounter these hateful beasts, so steel youself and figure out how you are going to deal with them.
The sad truth is that over and over again I've seen these people rise to the top. I know an entrepreneur who literally screams out loud at his staff, kicks over the flipchart if the meeting isn't going well and f's and blind's at suppliers just because he can. What happened to him? Sold his company for tens of millions, that's what. I know City traders who hurl keyboards across the room at support staff. What happens? They collect multi-million pound bonuses. I've worked with smooth snake-like operators who slither to the top leaving wrecked careers in their wake. Sure, stupid bullies get their come-uppance. But the smart bully bosses often barge their way to the front. It's a shame.
But what can we do about it? Become a business bully yourself? An eye for an eye? No, that's not the right route. If we go down that path, the whole world ends up blind. Confront the bully head on? Yes, definitely. We must drive this awful behaviour out of the world of business. But pick your fights carefully. You have to be smart in this business game and this isn't Tom Brown's Schooldays. If you stand up to the bully and punch him on the nose, he might not run away crying. He might wait for you in an alley with a baseball bat.