We’ve all seen it, whether at a mall, a playground, our kid’s school or even while visiting family, we’ve all had the unfortunate privilege of seeing some ill mannered non-behaving, tantrum throwing child. Regardless of whether or not we are shocked, alarmed, or disgusted by this child’s behavior, there is something especially egregious when we see the child acting this way in front of his or her parents.
Many times I’ve heard onlookers to such atrocities say things like, “If that were my child,” or “where are the parents,” or “I would never tolerate that type of behavior in my house.”In the same way, we often praise parents with phrases like, “His parents must have raised him right,” when a child is well behaved.We expect parents to take responsibility for the way they raise their child and we know that whether it is an unhealthy sense of entitlement, a lack of love or a lack of discipline, that what the parent invests in the child will at some point show itself in the behavior and character of the child. And to many, nothing is worse than a parent who sees bad behavior and does absolutely nothing to correct it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to managers, we rarely see the same standard applied.
The reality is bad leadership has run rampant throughout the business world. And although there has been a surplus of books, blogs and articles written describing what a bad leader looks like, they seem to have had little if any impact on the real world. No matter how many articles are written that say: stop micromanaging, stop trying to motivate by fear, stop stealing credit for things you didn’t do, and stop being a know-it-all (you know, the things we learn in kindergarten), it continues to happen. Many managers bully, abuse, and berate employees, yet rarely does their parent, the company, do anything about it, so the behavior continues.
The Workplace Bullying Institute states that when employers are notified ofrepeated bullying within their organization, 72% deny, discount, encourage, rationalize or even defend the abuser. In fact, when victims of bullying were surveyed, they stated that 93 % of the time, the bully was protected by someone within the organization. Whether it was a higher ranking manager, an executive, another executive or even the Human Resources Department, more times than not, the perception was that the perpetrator was protected, and when that perception exists, the person is empowered to continue their destructive behavior. In fact, only 2% of the time was corrective action taken.
If these statistics were about parenting, people would be in an uproar.Masses would cry out that bad parenting had reached pandemic proportions. Every presidential nominee would have a slogan or prepared remark addressing the domestic issue of problematic parenting. Unfortunately, in the corporate world, this is just business as usual, and people suffer because of it.
Companies have a wealth of information at their disposal. With 360 degree assessments exit interviews being all the rage, plenty of feedback is available to quickly point out who the bad managers are. Unfortunately organizations often turn a blind eye to the problem. And in reality, most companies know who the bad managers are without this type of feedback. It’s common knowledge.
For organizations to truly change and produce great leaders, they cannot ignore the existence of bad leaders. We need to stop trying to create a science out of something that is so simple. Companies need to begin communicating what is and isn’t proper behavior for leaders within the organization. They then need to provide both the training and the accountability to ensure that standard is upheld.