October '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 || P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 5 ular, wanting to appear tough, wanting to escape or mask their own problems, or because they were bullied once themselves. President and CEO of the Chicago-based Cen- ter for High Performance, Susan Annunzio, offers ten warning signs to tell if you are the corporate bully: • You tend to label people who disagree with you • You readily fall in love with an idea, position, or deal • No one ever finds fault with your viewpoint • There is little disagreement or debate within your leadership team • When your team does debate an issue, you label the sides as "winners" and "losers" • You deliver results, but people don't enjoy working with you • You always believe you are "the smartest guy in the room" • You are taken by surprise when things go wrong • You believe you are better at almost everything than anyone else on your team • You blame others when things go wrong • You rarely admit mistakes or apologize, and • You are an expert at "gotcha"—catching others in an error. Does that sound like your modus operandi? Hopefully not. But, if you see these tendencies in yourself or the managers in your busi- ness, there's plenty you can do about it. BEING BULLHEADED ABOUT ERADICATING BULLYING In a corporate setting, bullying equals lost opportunity. Employees' voices go unheard and brilliant ideas never see the light of day. Prod- uct defects are covered up. Unethical practices continue unchecked. Indefensible financial risks are ignored. And, people are intimidated into keeping quiet. Why are so many leaders unwilling (or unable) to heed the "mes- sengers" who actually have the best interest of the organization at heart? It's likely that they tend to view relying on others, expressing doubt or admitting inadequacies as indications of weakness. That can all change if you consider adopting and implementing the six-step Bully Prevention strategy prescribed by Annunzio. 1. Set a high ethical bar: Effective leaders understand that behav- ing morally and not breaking the law are sometimes two dif- ferent things, but they ought not to be. Be on the lookout for incidents where bullies—including yourself—target the weak or the different. Be their hero, their rescuer, their advocate. 2. Create a charter: Put together a code of conduct that includes "the five Cs": candor, collaboration, commitment, communica- tion, and community. Create a written document that lays out the values, behaviors, and expectations for individual members and the team as a whole. When you go through that exercise, it gives a shared reference point to hold all colleagues accountable. 3. Set and enforce a "no bullies rule": How many teams have a senior member who shuts down everyone else's ideas, is driven to win every argument, never gives credit to the troops, and excels at touting his own accomplishments? If your company puts up with this, you are enabling executive bullies. Give team members permission to call out this behavior—even when it is you exhibiting them. 4. Pass the ball: Business is a team sport. No single leader can be an expert at everything. Most, in fact, have glaring weaknesses and blind spots. The best executives recognize this and call on others with different strengths to help. 5. Welcome contrarian voices: How many breakthroughs might have been made or disasters averted if domineering executives had not told other team members that their idea was unachiev- able or their information was wrong? 6. Take a look in the mirror: Try to see yourself as others see you, and then ask, "Is that the way I want to be perceived?" It can be helpful to make video recordings of yourself during meetings and watch them with an outside observer who has no skin in the game, perhaps a business coach or trusted advisor. Are you willing to accept harsh realities and confront the problems di- rect reports bring to your attention? Did you respect the ideas of others? Did you encourage thoughtful debate, or did you squelch it? YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER

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