Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Team Bully

The Team Bully. Where do they come from? Who let them on the “bus”? Why are they allowed to remain on the “bus?” If they are allowed to stay on the “bus,” what can you do?


Bullying is an on-going pattern of bad behavior such as invalid or unnecessary criticism. The team bully tends to blame others when things go wrong and is equally quick to take credit for success. They like to be in control and love power over others. The team bully gives out loads of criticism, but is very stingy with praise or positive feedback.


“Bullies react aggressively in response to provocation or perceived insults or slights. It is unclear whether their acts of bullying give them pleasure or are just the most effective way they have learned to get what they want from others. Similar to manipulators, however, psychopathic bullies do not feel remorse, guilt or empathy. They lack insight into their own behavior and seem unwilling to unable to moderate it, even when it is to their own advantage. Not being able to understand the harm they do to themselves (let alone their victims), psychopathic bullies are particularly dangerous.” Robert Hare, Psychologist


The team bully has a strong negative impact on the rest of the team including reduced trust, increased fear, increased stress, lower morale, increased self-doubt, increased absence and high turnover. Team members experience poor sleep patterns, digestive problems and depression. Ultimately, team members do not give their best work, don’t share creative ideas, don’t give honest feedback all which leads to lower productivity and a less desirable bottom line.


The team bully needs coaching and perhaps counseling. If the bad behavior of team bully continues, then they need to get off the “bus.” If you are aware of bullying and don’t take action, then you are accepting a share of responsibility for future damage caused by the bully. No team or organization should ever tolerate bad behavior.


Why do organizations tolerate the bully? The reasons are numerous. The bully maybe a significant contributor to the organization’s bottom line and leadership is willing to put up with the bully’s contribution at the expense of others. The bully may intimidate leadership and leadership chooses ignore the problem. Leadership may not want to face the consequences to removing the bully including stepping back to take time to find a suitable replacement.


As a victim of the team bully, it is paramount you take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Make it a regular practice to never take the bully’s behavior toward you personally. Be courageous. Report the bully’s bad behavior to leadership.

6 comments:

Becky R-P said...

What if the team bully IS the top leader, at least as far as the organizational structure goes?

Dave said...

The authors's blog is probably meant primarily for business interests, but I related it to politicians, TV media hosts and participants and others. Too often they are just plain rude and uncivil, loud and ugly and more. Is it that "Winning" is all important or is it that they fear losing the argument/position or that they don't have salient facts for reasonable discussion? Unfortunately, much of the popular media is teaching the public - maybe more effectively than schools, "how to act". Maybe we should ask ourselves how do we act.

Carrpe Diem! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrpe Diem! said...

I'm going to let others share their thoughts concerning Becky's question before I offer my own.

Carrpe Diem! said...

Amir in a LinkedIn Discussion on this blog said... Fantastic piece! In fact, I am witness to a bully and his effect on his team and others surrounding him. He fits the characteristics you laid out perfectly - takes credit, stingy on praise, jumps down your throat when slighted, critiques are personal and without validation. He has decreased morale and trust in his team to all-time lows and is experiencing high turnover, probably the highest in the organization. I figure this behaviour stems from a place of massive personal insecurity. People with such personality disorders do nothing but wreak havoc, create unnecessary pain not just in their teams, but for themselves too, and not to forget, cost the company unnecessarily. I can only hope that the c-level leaders realize that it simply is costly to have such individuals at the helm of any part of the organization.

Carrpe Diem! said...

Brian in a LinkedIn Discussion on this blog said...

Nice!!! I worked with two Team Bullies here during my first 7 months on the job…..One was a VP and one was an Account Manager. The keyword that relates to both of them now is “WAS”!