When leadership turns toxic: The fine line between being tough and being a bully

 

By Karlyn Borysenko

Shortly after Senator Amy Klobuchar announced her bid to become the next Democratic nominee for president, horror stories began popping up detailing years of consistent abusive treatment of her staff. The reports contended that her reputation made it difficult to recruit someone to manage her presidential campaign. In response, Klobuchar’s supporters argued that she was being targeted due to her gender and that a man in her position would be considered “tough” instead of toxic.

While it certainly is true that assertive women are much more likely to be viewed as bossy or unlikable than their male counterparts who engage in exactly the same behaviors, we can’t assume that just because someone is a woman, it means that her behaviors towards her staff are being wrongly characterized when charges of toxicity are made. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of workplace bullies are women, and according to a recent study more than two-thirds of women have reported being a target of workplace bullying by a female boss.

So, how can you tell the difference between when your boss is being tough and when they’ve crossed the line into workplace bullying, regardless of the gender they identify with? Where is the line? Here are some differentiators to consider.

Tough bosses have bad days. Bullies are consistently bad.

According to Bartlett and Bartlett, workplace bullying is defined as “the experience of repeated and unwelcomed negative acts such as criticism and humiliation, occurring at a place of employment, that are intended to cause fear, distress, and harm to the target from one or more individuals in any source of power over the target, where the target has difficulties defending him or herself.” Continue reading

Why We Need More Authentic Women At Work

  Last Sunday, comedian actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, largely known for her work on Seinfeld and Veep, won the Mark Twain Prize, considered the highest honor in comedy. Louis-Dreyfus is the sixth woman to win the award in a male-dominated field. She is also 57, an age at which?especially in entertainment?many actresses are disqualified.

All the way back in the late 1980s, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a casting afterthought. The Seinfeld executives decided last-minute that they needed a woman added to the cast. In popped Louis-Dreyfus, and as Jerry Seinfeld said to the New York Times, “I could not get enough of her . . . That whole time, nine years, I was not acting.”

Louis-Dreyfus is gifted comedically. But it is perhaps her conduct that makes her a distinctly unique role model. In spite of the cattiness that can define the entertainment industry, Louis-Dreyfus has made it her business to be both authentic and kind. “Many of those who spoke talked about Louis-Dreyfus’s kindness, [and] how constant and straightforward it was,” as reported in the New York Times.

In one particularly telling incident, Friends’ actress Lisa Kudrow and Louis-Dreyfus were both nominated for an Emmy. “After Louis-Dreyfus won . . . she sent Ms. Kudrow, a fellow nominee, flowers with a note attached: ‘You were robbed. -Julia.’” Continue reading

Should I stay or should I go?

 

The topic of counter offers is an interesting one. I am sure you have seen articles and thoughts about the subject and they are usually one person’s perspective on the topic. For a somewhat different approach, we’ve reached out to people in our network to gain their thoughts and perspective on the topic.

We asked:

You have just received an offer to join a new firm. You are giving notice to leave your current position and your employer makes a “counter offer” to keep you from leaving. You start to think about whether or not to take that “counter offer.”

Why would taking a counter offer can cost you more in the long run?

If people generally want to stay with their current company and the concerning issue is mainly about compensation, accepting the counter-offer can be a good decision.  However, if compensation is only one of a number of reasons to leave, best for the employee (and employer) to part ways amicably and not confuse or prolong the process by considering or negotiating a counter-offer. Further, if the only way for employees to receive raises and/or get paid market rates, better to leave vs. accept a counter offer since this will likely be a recurring theme.

Bob Pryor, CEO,  NTT DATA, Inc.

 

When you decide to make a change it is because there is something missing.     I have always found that a counter offer usually only attempts to correct a salary issue and not the driver behind your decision to make a change and you will still be unhappy.

You will end up back looking in a year!

Once you turn down that original date to the prom, they probably are not going to ask you again!!

Be decisive, know what you want, move forward and don’t look back!!

Betty Becker-Steele, Senior Executive at Accenture

 

The reasons people resign include they: dislike the work, dislike the company direction, dislike their boss, dislike their pay. They don’t necessarily want a raise, they want a new situation. Accepting a counter does not fix any of this.  In fact, it may cause resentment toward that employee down the road. Don’t take the counter!

John Cutrone,  Senior Advisor – Professional Services

 

We hope you find these perspectives interesting. If you would like to share your thoughts on this for future blogs, please let me know.

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, ISSG, janis@issg.net

How to bond with your employees without compromising your authority

By Sadie Williamson

For any company, success is largely dependent on how well workers perform. I’ve long since learned that employees who perform the best are almost always those who are most engaged with their projects and teams. But you might be surprised to find out that one of the biggest contributing factors to the motivation and good feeling of an employee is often their relationship with their manager.

In a study by the OC Tanner Institute, 37 percent of employees reported recognition from management as by far the most important factor for employee motivation. A similar study found that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs do so because they don’t feel appreciated.

The most successful managers understand their responsibility for employee engagement and recognize how good employee relations contribute to a flourishing company.

Unfortunately, evidence also shows that companies are not taking steps to equip their managers to handle the softer aspects of the role. A CareerBuilder survey found that 58 percent of managers reported receiving no training for their current position. While there is no instruction manual or rule book on managing and leading people, my time in the corporate world has taught me that there are steps that you can take to navigate this complicated responsibility. Continue reading

To Land a Great Job, Talk About Why You Love Your Work

by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach

When interviewing for your next job, how can you impress your recruiter and increase your chances of securing a job offer? Of course you may wish to emphasize your ambitions and goals you hope to achieve as a result of working at the company — your extrinsic motivation for the job. But to what extent should you also emphasize your love for your work and what you hope to achieve as part of the process of working at the company? This comprises your intrinsic motivation for the job, and most of us understand how important it can be to sustained engagement at work; but do recruiters care to hear this?

Our research suggests that they do — and that job applicants aren’t taking advantage of that. Indeed, we have found that people fail to predict the power of such a statement of intrinsic motivation on the impression they make.

To examine this prediction problem — the discrepancy between what candidates think will impress recruiters and what recruiters actually find impressive — we surveyed 1428 full-time employees and MBA students across five studies. Some provided their predictions, guessing what recruiters would find impressive when hiring a job candidate. Others told us what they actually valued when making hiring decisions.

Continue reading