May 16, 2019
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CHICAGO, May 15, 2019 – **ALERT: spoilers of Episode 5 of Game of Thrones immediately ahead**

The most recent episode of Game of Thrones included a questionable decision that caused quite a bit of destruction at the behest of Daenerys Targaryen, who made a conscious decision to rule by fear. Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister used her city as a shield instead of opening negotiations. Both acts were extreme examples of bad leadership, and while bad bosses in the workplace will likely not result in a dragon spewing fire, the metaphor can be quite apt, according to one workplace authority.

**Spoiler over**

"Workplace tyrants can bring their departments or, in some cases entire organizations, to a screeching halt. When employees work in fear, innovation ceases and the main focus of workers’ jobs becomes trying to avoid the boss’s wrath or trying to find new positions. This causes a downturn in employee morale, exodus of talent, and the potential for hostile litigation, all of which most certainly impacts the bottom line," said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of global outplacement, business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

"In the current environment, where companies are in a war for skilled talent, any aspect of the organization that may lead to the inability to attract and retain workers is costly," added Challenger.

Several studies have shown that leadership, more than money, is a top motivator for workers and contributes directly to employee engagement and morale. This bullying primarily comes from the top. The most recent survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 61% of bullies at work are bosses. The survey also found that 46% of respondents reported work relationships that have worsened since the election of our current president, further highlighting the importance of leadership at the very top.

"Bullies are more than those that spout openly divisive or biased rhetoric, or who yell or become physically confrontational to get their points across," said Challenger.

"They can be subtle, using microaggressions to assert their position of power. This can come in the form of taking credit for other people’s work, not allowing others to speak, dismissive body language, or as simple as mispronouncing a colleague’s or subordinate’s name," he added.

The most difficult aspect of a bullying boss is how to remedy it. Workers who complain about a bad boss may become targets, and human resources executives may be powerless to take on the boss. The WBI survey found 19% of workers experienced bullying at work while another 19% witnessed bullying behavior.

"You need help to fix bad leadership. Oftentimes, the workers themselves cannot do this alone. If the leadership is broken, it will most likely take an external force to coach the leader, and ultimately the organization, to health," said Challenger.

Types of Bad Bosses

The Conqueror – This type of boss is physically imposing, micro manages, and hoards knowledge to keep control.

Performers – These leaders typically have low self-esteem, and therefore target others to feel empowered.

Manipulators – Manipulators work out of self-interest. They threaten and are vindictive, take credit for others’ work, and lack accountability.

How can an organization remedy bad leadership?

Formal anti-bullying policies must be developed and enforced. These policies must have processes that allow for reporting, confronting, and eradicating workplace bullies, including those at the top.

What if the bad leadership is at the top and not open to such a policy?

In that difficult position, individual workers must decide whether he or she can tolerate the toxic environment. This situation usually leads to talent drain and litigation.

An executive coach, as an unbiased third party, can be used to assess the situation, identify instances of bad leadership and bullying, and coach leaders to change the behavior.

"The leader doesn’t, and often won’t, identify their own behavior as bullying. But that hardly matters as long as they change that behavior to foster a healthy environment, where their workers can express themselves and do their jobs without fear," said Challenger.
Source: HR.com Articles

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