Transformational Leadership and Anti-bullying Culture

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Transformational Leadership and Anti-bullying Culture

Transformational Leadership and Anti-bullying Culture

The study of the role of leadership in the development of an anti-bullying organizational culture has revealed authentic transformational leadership as the most effective leadership style. Constructive leadership styles using relational communication have been found to reduce the risk of bullying. Autocratic and lasses-faire leadership or non-leadership has been found to cause conflict which can lead to bullying. The key to the application of constructive leadership to reduce bullying lies in the widespread encouragement of communication skills throughout the organization to de-escalate conflict.

The role of a constructive leader in reducing the risk of workplace bullying is a commitment to the introduction of anti-bullying policy which stops bullying before it is repeated rather than waiting until after it is repeated. This concept while simple in its application requires an authentic transformational leadership view to see the potential benefits of doing something innovative for the benefit of employees in order to lower costs and increase productivity for the organization. It is this ethical view that is inconsistent with many years of tradition and cultural influence, which is required to overcome the dependence on avoiding legal liability by over-reliance on the defense of reasonable management action. The focus on avoiding unfair dismissal claims can lead to workplace bullying making life hard enough for employees to encourage their voluntary resignation. The recognition of this problem has always been evident in the way organizations are reluctant to be involved in surveys which measure the extent of bullying within an organization for fear of suggesting to employees that they may be entitled to make an alternative legal claim for unreasonable behavior.

It is through the study of constructive leadership however that the need for proper implementation of policies is revealed. These implementation strategies involve the requirement for organizational:

  • policy and procedure training on the application of all organisational policies relating to bullying,
  • emotional intelligence training targeted at those who are unaware of their unreasonable behavior toward others,
  • resilience training for those who are less emotionally tolerant to conflict,
  • conflict management and conflict de-escalation training to enable creativity through constructive conflict resolution without degradation into unreasonable behavior which poses a risk of bullying,
  • supportive performance management training to assist supervisors to follow the process to a conclusion without leaving the process unresolved until it causes bullying to encourage resignation,
  • career development and skills training options as an alternative to performance management.
  • executive coaching for key personnel required for the future performance of the organization to receive individual instruction to improve their leadership and communication skills to meet the new ethical culture of the organization,
  • counseling of individuals who are affected by unreasonable behavior in the past, and
  • monitoring of the progress of the policy and exit interviews to determine what changes need to be made to the process.

Authentic leadership on its own is not enough to prevent workplace bullying through cultural change. Fully integrated policies including bullying management, anti-bullying, performance management, career development, and conflict resolution skills need to be supported by employment contracts. These policies then need to be properly implemented under the principals of ethical leadership for fear of unread policies gathering dust in a filing cabinet without leadership commitment. With proper implementation, an organization can reap the benefit of increased productivity form improved creativity, lower recruitment and compliance costs and improved brand loyalty with a preferred employer reputation.

Do you need to be a transformational leader to stop bullying or does your anti-bullying policy make you the authentic leader?