Sheila and I were talking about bullies and why people in organizational leadership positions tolerate that behavior. It seems that people are promoted for technical knowledge, whether or not they have the human skills as leaders and at the same time, they’re fired for technical mistakes, but not necessarily for threats or bullying or other behavior that hurt people.
Why do we ignore the human qualities in a person in a leadership position? And why do we inadvertently co-create an environment that allows for bullying behavior? Here is an example:
Watch Congressman Michael Grimm in this video, threatening a NY1 reporter, Michael Scotto, with physical harm:
Then his apology here:
“I’m a human being, and sometimes your emotions get the better of you,” Grimm said. “The bottom line, though, is it shouldn’t happen, you shouldn’t lose your cool. That’s why I apologized. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and you have to admit it. It shouldn’t happen.”
Then another part of his apology, even referencing his mother (!):
Then Scotto’s response:
“I accepted his apology. It was a short conversation, a couple of minutes long,” he reflected. “He did seem sincere, but at the same time, he’s aware that the coverage over the last 12 or so hours has been pretty terrible for him. Whether that contributed, I can’t speculate.”
Do you think that Scotto accepted Grimm’s apology because of his fear of retribution or Grimm’s sincerity? In either case, hasn’t Scotto enabled Grimm’s behavior?
If Scotto wanted to accept Grimm’s apology PLUS hold him accountable, he could have said something like this: “I accept Grimm’s apology because it sounded sincere. At the same time, I consider Grimm’s behavior completely unacceptable and believe that his constituents should ask more from him, even when he’s dealing with the stress of the insurance issues…”