When the Boss is the Problem
Is your manager tough but fair, or just a bully? How you can deal with both types.
Editor’s note: Renee Thompson’s “Healthy Workforce” columns usually draw on real case studies from Renee’s consulting work and seminars and usually involve conflicts between workplace peers. In this special feature, she examines a tougher issue: what to do about a boss who may be a bully.
True leaders possess a unique combination of skill and personality that makes others want to follow them. Unfortunately, even in healthcare, nurses may struggle to find effective, compassionate leadership. true leaders possess a unique combination of skill and personality that makes others want to follow them. Unfortunately, even in healthcare, nurses may struggle to find effective, compassionate leadership.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 61 percent of all workplace bullying in the United States is perpetrated by higher-ranking employees, whether supervisors, managers or C-suite executives. That’s a significant number that should raise concerns for every organization.
Difficult or demanding leaders usually fall into two camps: those who are “tough but fair” and those who are bullies. Let’s examine the characteristics of each type and consider a few strategies to help you cope.
The “Tough but Fair” Boss
Tough bosses are focused on goals and outcomes. These leaders strive for results and expect each team member to do their part. Tough bosses tend to be gruff and have little time for small talk. They seldom forgive easily if you make a mistake or appear to be slacking off.
Experts say that working for a tough boss, especially early in your career, can be a good thing. They may teach you to focus on results or help you achieve goals you would otherwise think unattainable. A tough boss can also be an ideal leader in high-stakes settings like the ED, where careless mistakes can cost lives. However, these leaders’ high standards and “rough and tough” exteriors can be challenging for many employees.