Popularity contests are not won by the truth.

This should not be some earth shattering, bubble breaking, life changing surprise, however it sometimes takes an unfortunate incident to reinforce it. I certainly took time to learn this, however is not new wisdom. Luke 6:26 tells us that “there is trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them and doing what indulges them”.

I have blogged before how I am hardwired to care.  It is abundantly obvious at times. I often have worn my heart on my sleeve, or more precisely on my tongue. This characteristic is often sought out by people who are having relationship issues, not so much with significant others although sometimes that is so, not that I am an expert on relationships given my history, but I can tell you what not to do! The relationships I am talking about here are in workplaces, clubs, churches and organisations. It most often is an issue with leaders who have some common traits with their leadership styles

These leaders often have characteristics like a sense of infallibility, a lack of empathy, an inability to listen well and no sense of collaborative process. They lack any real filter to reflect and process their thoughts and behaviour. They are often prime examples of tell don’t show, they lead by decree rather than example.  Some of this can because of underlying personality issues or syndromes. ( Aspergers,  now simply seen as being on the Autism spectrum,  Bi-polar disorder or personality disorders. ) Sometimes it can even be caused by physical illness.

Sometimes it may be the Peter Principle, whereby people are promoted to the level of their incompetence.  They never progress from there.  (does that mean that unless someone is getting a promotion they are incompetent)? http://management.about.com/od/GivingFeedback/a/The-Peter-Principle.htm. They can be viewed as being strong leaders but most often they leave a trail of destruction behind them, expressed in employment situations by high turnover, short tenure of the leader, high employee sick leave figures or an undercurrent of dissatisfaction.

So in these situations, people affected look for alternative leadership, this is where the trouble often starts.  People know you care and they have a sense of helplessness so look for the alternative leader.  You are seen as caring but strong enough to “encounter” with the problematic leader.  Sometimes the approach is direct where someone asks for help, other times you just cannot stand the situation anymore, you know that people are looking to you and you finally stand up and say something. You feel a sense of dread and burden but  you know you have to do something.

I remember an employment situation where we were talking about someone who was in leadership, this person was a bully and we were discussing that someone had to do something about it and it was pretty obvious who they thought that someone was.  In the midst of the conversation the person walked into the room and everyone went quiet.  They said it is like someone was talking about me, well I said actually we were, we were discussing how you were displaying bullying behaviours and how individuals had approached you but it just got worse, so we were deciding what to do and here it is, you have to stop and if you don’t we will stop you.  You need help.

Well that went down real well!  There was some screaming and tears and one very stressed bully went off for two weeks of sick leave, and was shifted sideways into a sole charge position.  A good ending? Well no, on a number of levels, they tried to get “revenge “ at all opportunities, snide remarks, complaints and constant whinging, fortunately the others stood united with me and eventually the person left our department.  Here is the rub, she got another job because the boss was so keen to get rid of the problem he gave a great reference!  Someone else’s problem and she rose to a new level  of incompetence, a hard and bitter person, unhappy with life.  I did wonder if she hated me but I was assured she hated all men equally, and some women as well!  She hated anyone whom she saw as a threat.

Sometimes confrontation can be successful, but it needs a united approach, there is often  someone who wants to hedge their bets and plays politics, not choosing sides but often supporting the problematic situation by feeding information or stoking the fires with unhelpful conversations.  In my professional experience as a union delegate and employer representative I have found the following most helpful.  No generalisations, one has to be very specific, keep a diary of any interactions, confirm conversations by email, outlining your understanding of the conversation.  Involve your union or employee resolution service early and have a discussion with senior management if possible.  It may sound petty but outlining very specific events is the best way.

All of the above makes assumptions of a couple of things.  Firstly there is the assumption, that what is happening, actually matters and is worth expending the emotional energy to fix.  You are the only one who can determine that because it is your lived reality.  The second assumption is that you want to stay in your place of employment, club, or church group, wherever the situation is occurring.  The path of least resistance can be removing yourself from the situation. That is just as legitimate as any other solution because in the end you are the one who has to tolerate it.   These kinds of people can really grind you down and rob you of physical and emotional strength.

Above all else, be true to yourself,

Kia kaha



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