Don’t Be a Bully Boss! 10 Signs It Could Be Happening to You

Are You a Bully Boss? Here are the Signs

Bosses have a duty to incentivize and encourage workplace success by being a strong leader who has gained the respect of colleagues. By contrast, being a bullying boss creates an air of discontent and anguish, often leading to an underperforming workforce.

It is within every boss’s interest to be a leader others look up to instead of cowering away from.

Are you concerned that you may be a bully boss? If you are a bully boss, what damage could it be doing your business and how do you overcome your bullying ways?

Are You a Bully Boss?

Small Business Trends spoke to Tracey C. Jones, M.B.A., President of Tremendous Leadership, a professional development firm that advises Fortune 500s, government agencies and universities on issues of leadership, ethics and employment engagement.

Jones provided us with a number of workplace bullying pointers everyone in a position of leadership should consider.

You’re Giving Destructive Criticism Instead of Constructive Criticism

According to Jones, “The tough boss gives constructive criticism; the bullying boss gives destructive criticism. It all centers on the motives of your boss; are they there to intimidate or to inspire?”

A tough boss, says Jones, will insist employees work hard and give their best effort and submit high-quality work all the time.

By contrast, an abusive or bullying boss deliberately provides employees with false or misleading information, humiliates workers in public, calls them demeaning names, puts the blame on employees and treats them like servants.

Being treated in such a derogatory way naturally isn’t good for workplace morale or staff retention. Bosses should therefore work hard and channel their criticism to be constructive rather than destructive.

You Suffer From Insecurity as a Leader

“Much of bullying is rooted in insecurity,” says Jones.

Bosses should strive to become more secure in their leadership role and grow out of their juvenile behavior. Making the effort to be a more secure, stronger and less immature leader is good for business, as it will help avoid members of your staff from suffering and leaving the company.

Your Employees Are Leaving

Another telling sign your bullying exploits at work are having a negative impact on your business, is members of your staff are leaving.

This ‘dysfunction’ in the workplace, when employees have exhausted their chain of command, both internally and through HR, is a sign that a business is on a downward spiral.

“My personal experience is that these companies do eventually implode publicly or dissolve through a merger or acquisition,” says Jones.

It’s therefore up to the boss to start becoming more tolerant and less bullying or be faced with the challenge of team members quitting, which can soon result in a failing business.

You Are Contradicting Company Policy on Workplace Bullying

Some companies have policies in place regarding workplace bullying and what isn’t acceptable. If you are concerned that you are becoming an intimidating boss, make the effort to familiarize yourself with your firm’s workplace bullying policy.

Jones advises employees to become “fully versed on company policies regarding workplace bullying.” The same level of diligence can be shown by employers to ensure they don’t cross the line about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable in terms of workplace bullying.

You Are Not Being a Role Model to Employees

According to Jones, “There is one thing the bully boss is good for; teaching you how not to behave when you step into the leadership role.”

Good bosses are effective role models. They teach others about the importance of effective leadership and how to achieve it. If your bullying antics are meaning you are not a good role model to your colleagues, it’s time to step back and evaluate your behavior.

Quality leadership role models get more respect and productivity from their workers. Those who intimidate and scare are left with a fragile set of workers, who will not be able to do their best work.

You Are Losing Respect

Earning respect is the cornerstone of effective leadership. Bosses who shout their orders and bully and intimidate will not earn the respect of their workforce.

If your harassing attitude towards your team is resulting in your employees no longer respecting you, it’s time to approach your relationship with your colleagues differently.

Finding a way to make workers respect you and your authority is vital in ensuring employees work to a high standard and contribute to the successful business.

Make greater effort to recognize workers are people too, and they must be shown respect from their managers in order to enhance their performance.

You Steal the Credit from Others

Stealing or taking credit for colleagues’ ideas, innovations and contributions without acknowledging them is another sign you are a boss practicing bullying at work.

Naturally, no employee wants to see someone else take credit for their hard work and good ideas, let alone their boss!

Make the effort to recognize and applaud the good ideas and vision of others, instead of stealing the credit in an attempt to enhance your own career.

You Are Deliberately Misleading Others

According to Jones, an abusive or bullying boss deliberately provides employees with false or misleading information.

Misleading others and concealing the truth is a sign of bullying antics and is not conducive with nurturing a happy, contented workforce.

Endeavor to tell the truth to your workforce and refrain from deliberately misleading others. This will create a happier, more honest working environment.

You Are Undermining Work

Deliberately undermining work and delaying an employee’s progress on a project is another tell-tale sign of leadership bullying. Instead of undermining, belittling and hampering work and progress, make the effort to show support.

A supportive boss will be rewarded with a workforce determined to do their best and help the company succeed.

Removing Workers’ Responsibilities

Taking away the responsibilities of others, or deliberately changing their role without any reason or cause is an ineffectual and bullying leadership strategy.

Give your workers the opportunity to work at their best and let their creativity thrive by encouraging greater responsibility instead of deliberately hindering it.

As Jones notes, “The tough boss will ‘break you down’ to build you up; the bully boss will ‘break you down’ to see you crumble. And nobody wants to work for a crummy boss.”

Don’t be that crummy, bullying boss. Be an effective leader that has gained the respect of your team and you’ll put your business in a much better position to be collectively driven to success.

Mean Boss Photo via Shutterstock 2 Comments ▼

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a professional freelance writer and journalist based in the United Kingdom. Since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".

2 Reactions
  1. I guess it is human nature. They will not always be conscious of what they are doing. There will be good days and bad days. In those bad days, the bullying may happen.

    • Hi Aira, I completely agree. And that’s why it’s important to address the situation with the individual as soon as it happens, and in an environment that’s conducive. I’ve had individuals point out my substandard behavior and I was thankful for it. I hadn’t intended to come across the way I did and they allowed me to “see” that. It is human nature and we all have bad days, as you so clearly pointed out. Always give the person a chance to be made aware of their actions. After that, if the behavior doesn’t change, then it’s a different scenario.