Sunday, 4 June 2017



There are different styles of leadership (see list below) and some have legitimacy in certain circumstances.

1.       The coercive style. ...
2.       The authoritative style. ...
3.       The affiliative style. ...
4.       The democratic style. ...
5.       The pacesetting style. ...
6.       The coaching style.

For more information see Goleman


I would warn that the coercive style is just bullying: This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

If the aim is to control a problem then check that people agree there is a “problem”, and that there is consensus that this is the best approach.

You’ll win support of your team if the intent is to deal with someone who is undermining the team, working against key values or indeed being a bully. You’ll create distrust if you’re the one being the bully and picking on someone who is valued by the team, or who is acting in accordance with the organisational values.

For example if your organisations’ values are like Starbucks (below) its wise not to remonstrate with someone who is “challenging the status quo” or discussing issues as part of “connecting with transparency”

1.       Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
2.       Acting with courage, challenging the status quo.
3.       Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
4.       Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
5.       We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.


In school people are advised…” if the bully says or does something to you”

1.       Ignore the bully. If you can, try your best to ignore the bully's threats. ...
2.       Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. ...
3.       Don't bully back. ...
4.       Don't show your feelings. ...
5.       Tell an adult.

This is more complex in the work-place, particularly if the bully is a boss.

You may not be able to ignore them if they are the boss. Standing up for yourself could be insubordination. You may not have an “adult” you can tell: Your colleagues may offer sympathy but they are unlikely to stick their neck out.  I know many HR people who will diligently listen, offer you advice, and then do nothing themselves because they don’t want to rock the boat.


I have always followed this advice…

1.       Ask for time to think - it should force a pause or moment of silence.
2.       Think about what you want to happen - don’t fight back, think forward.
3.       Get the bully to stop yelling - “Please speak more slowly, I’d like to understand” or (if on the phone) say nothing until they ask “Are you still there?”
4.       What-ever you do don’t explain - think forward, don’t justify, recriminate, excuse or offer explanation. They’re looking to exploit weaknesses (-) not strength (+)
5.       Ask “what would you like me to do?”. If so challenged they will ask you for something more acceptable than what they want. This is your exit opportunity.
6.       Don’t take criticism personally - attacks on your team, your work, your values, etc. are not attacks on you. Although it is hard to resist “fight or flight”
7.       Learn from criticism - if you wait 24 hrs before answering criticism it will demonstrate maturity, reasonableness and you may learn something!


There is however a different approach that you might take. There is a theory that there are three key roles in any situation…

·         VILLAIN
·         VICTIM
·         HERO

When we live in the drama triangle, we see the other person as our  adversary — the villain. If only  they  would change, we reason, things  would be fine.  They  stand between us and happiness. Ironically, they  are usually thinking the same thing about us. To resolve conflict, we  need to relinquish our roles as victim, villain and hero and work with  the other person to solve the problem. 

We must meet the other person in the middle. This means telling them our story (in a way they will be able to hear it) and listening to  their story with curiosity. Such open communication fosters mutual understanding. This understanding provides a doorway through which we can exit the drama triangle and enter into the  circle of resolution. 

I would however concede that this is easier said than done because “telling them our story” is a direct contradiction of “What-ever you do don’t explain” . Trying to justify yourself to a bully unlikely  going to work.

For more information


Tim Rogers is a Qualified Change Practitioner and PRINCE2 Project Manager, with an MBA in Management Consultancy. Past projects have included the incorporation of Ports of Jersey and Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI and NatWest. He is a tutor/lecturer for the Chartered Management Institute. 

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