30 Mar 2012
Equally, some people perceive they are being bullied when they are simply being held accountable for what is expected of them. Balancing this requires elegant skill.
“In my experience, many people who are accused of being bullies are quite stunned, because in their minds they are just hard working people who make sure things get done,” says strategic leadership advisor Sarah Cornally.
“In fact, they are often praised and recognised for their ‘can do’, ‘make it happen’ abilities. Yes, they can be thick skinned and insensitive, but they are dedicated and committed to results. Sometimes they see people who accuse them of bullying as being over sensitive, lacking conviction and needing too much molly coddling.”
Such task focused people get their sense of their value and significance from taking action and producing results, but can over-identify with this at the expense of others. Often they have been on the receiving end of this behaviour during their formative years, so part of their coping strategy is to toughen up and not let anyone get the better of them.
Now they can lack awareness of what it’s like on the receiving end. Ultimately, they can ultimately alienate people and create learned helplessness through taking over.
See the full picture and slow down
“The task focused person needs to see the full picture and slow it down. When they constantly take over and drive things through, others give up and let them do everything. Then they may struggle with this because it activates their fear that things won’t get done,” Sarah says.
“Enhancing performance and driving through tough challenges without coming across as a bully is all to do with being insightful, aware of what drives you and managing those drivers so you find the right balance between task focus and people focus.
You also have to respect what other people need to participate and contribute to success. Here’s a useful checklist:
1. Have you checked that everyone’s clear on the desired outcome?
2. Are you clear about the standards required, the challenge and what it will take to achieve it?
3. Does everyone have enough context to make decisions or understand what’s important and why?
4. Have you made sure it makes sense to them?
5. Have you ensured, not just assumed, they have the capability?
6. Have you involved them in a way that connects to what motivates them?
7. Do you allow them to make mistakes and correct them so they learn?
8. Do you give them enough space to do tasks and carry the appropriate responsibility?
9. When things go wrong do you refocus on the outcome and find ways to move towards it?
“All this requires that you manage your own emotions about what’s going on without them leaking onto others,” Sarah says.
“This requires emotional maturity, but often the task focused person is somewhat insensitive to emotions or discounts their significance, as they feel vulnerable when in touch with them. They experience them as potentially overwhelming and hence disempowering. But these people are a great asset when they can develop the maturity that enables them to find the sweet spot between task and people focus to get others to achieve great things.”
Sarah Cornally has been a Strategic Leadership Advisor for over 25 years to directors and senior executives. She specializes in enabling them to respond to the leadership challenges that enable organizations and their people to thrive. www.sarahcornally.com
© 2012 Sarah Cornally. All rights reserved