A recent article in the New York Times, When the Bully is the Boss, explores the effects that a bullying leader has on organizations. Not surprisingly, it turns out bullying doesn’t really lead to better productivity:
…the vast majority of findings point to the same conclusion: Bullying bosses tend to undermine their own teams. Morale and company loyalty plunge, tardiness increases and sick days are more frequent.
Productivity may rise in the short term…But over time the performance of the staff or team deteriorates, and people quit.
And yet, bullies often continue to be promoted.
Which seems nonsensical, but as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I suspect this has something to do with our false notions of how to manage ourselves – carried over into the wider world.
It’s a common belief that if our bodies need improving, a good general way to do that is by increasing the amount, or the intensity, of our exercise routine.
If we’re trying to improve a particular skill, the solution is to study harder, practice longer, push ourselves harder.
More quantity, in other words.
What’s missing is the quality factor. The manner in which we do those exercises, that extra study, the longer practice.
Push ourselves harder to make ourselves better.
Which makes as much sense as fixing a car that not running well by taking it out to the Interstate for a 75 miles an hour drive. (Or the Autobahn for 100 plus miles per hour!)
Revving up the activity of a defective mechanism – or a poorly functioning individual – does nothing to improve the situation.
It just destroys the machine.
And reinforces a person’s harmful habits, and drives them in more deeply.
It’s a kind of self-bullying that can easily carry over into the rest of our lives, including our workplace relationships. And if we happen to be the boss…well heaven help our subordinates!
F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Alexander Technique, learned from years of self-observation and teaching others that forceful thoughts or actions are usually ineffective at producing useful change.
What works, he discovered, are well-thought strategies of thought that are brought to bear on ourselves with a minimum of mental force or effort. As he said: “Talk to the body gently and it will do anything.”
Or, as Marjorie Barstow, the first person to graduate from his first teacher training course in the early 1930’s used to say: “Don’t be pushy with your thinking.”
I believe that general rule applies to all our interactions. Talk and behave towards others as you would like them to talk and behave towards you, and everyone will be happier and, in a workplace environment, more productive.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below and/or on Facebook.
Bullying Image Copyright : Валерий Качаев