Bullying in the church–Differences between strong healthy leadership and bullying

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As part of a training day for parish consultants in the Diocese of Sydney we explored aspects of bullying behaviour.

Presentation on Bullying

A table of differences between healthy strong leadership and bullying behaviour

Attributes and actions of healthy strong leader

Attributes and actions of a bullying leader

A leader primarily calls others to follow by setting an example in work, relationships and commitment. … Follow me.

A bully tells others what to do often with threats of negative consequences if they fail to comply. These instructions are often inconsistent with the bully’s own ways of doing things. …Do what I say not what I do.

A healthy leader develops a shared vision with the team, holds this before people, is clearly committed to it and inspires that commitment in others.

A bully subtly makes the primary value in the organisation personal loyalty to the agenda and person of the bullying leader not the shared vision of the team.

A healthy leader encourages independence of thought, new ideas, constructive evaluation and development of new skills and abilities in team members.

A bully is primarily interested in people who do not question or critique but agree and acquiesce to the bully’s ideas. Criticism is taken personally and independence discouraged.

A leader freely shares all information, both positive and negative, with team members and values openness and transparency.

A bully uses information selectively, withholds key information and uses it as a means of controlling and often marginalising others.

A leader seeks to know and understand the members of her or his team. While supportive of personal lives and issues of team members, appropriate boundaries are always observed. A higher level of empathy, and emotional / social intelligence is evident.

A bully is primarily interested in herself or himself and may demonstrate a lack of care for the personal circumstances of others. At other times a bully might be invasive, controlling and disrespectful of boundaries in terms of family and personal relationships.

A leader values personal accountability and growth, maintaining open communicative relationships with his or her governing body and a mentor or supervisor.

A bully typically shirks accountability, does not relate openly with the governing board and often does not have supervision or mentoring.

When things go wrong, a leader accepts responsibility and steps up to address the issues. Most issues are resolved by good leadership and teamwork.

When things go wrong, a bully shifts the blame to others and does not accept responsibility. Others are punished by marginalisation, isolation and rejection.

A leader values due process and communicates this. The rules apply to the leader alongside everyone else.

A bully often bypasses due process and makes arbitrary decisions. It is clear the rules don’t apply to the bully personally.

A leader can be assertive and directive when needed and is respected when this occurs based on the trust which is developed in times of collaboration.

Tends to use power primarily to include and exclude and rules by rewarding those who agree, support and co-operate. Defaults to a power position rather than collaboration.

Sees the true complexity of conflict and seeks to resolve issues by discussion and negotiation.

Sees conflict simplistically and personally and seeks to win the conflict and exclude others.

A healthy leader is available and accessible, can be reached when needed and responds to requests for help, guidance and communication.

A bully often hides away, cannot be contacted and often ignores requests for help, guidance and communication.

Tim Dyer The Johnmark Extension 2018