The role of a leader is crucial the overall organizational functioning. Leadership frequently overlooks the subtle messages that they send their workers which sets the stage for a work culture where persistent workplace aggression can start, flourish, or even be prevented.
Workers look to their leader to determine what is and is not acceptable workplace behavior. As such, leaders need to be aware of both the verbal and non-verbal messages that they are sending out. Leadership always comes with a role-modeling responsibility. Leaders should ask themselves on a regular basis these questions:
- Is the behavior I am portraying consistent with the organizational mission?
- Is the behavior I am portraying the behavior I want mimicked by my workers?
If a leader wants policy and procedures followed, then it is important for the leader to respect policy and procedures. If a leader is participating in persistent workplace aggression, then it is likely that the workers mirror this type of behavior.
I consulted with a group where the leader complained that their workers were not following policy. In my conversations with the workers, they reported that they heard their leader consistently saying things, such as, “I would rather ask forgiveness than permission” or “Rules don’t apply to me. I just do my own thing.” The leader repeatedly made decisions that were outside the scope of the organization’s mission and policies. Workers were under the assumption that this type of behavior was not only acceptable, but also expected based on their leader’s behavior. As such, it should not have been a shock for the leader to see that workers replicated their behavior. However, it totally blinded-sided the leader due to their own unawareness of the impact of their behavior had on determining the culture of the workplace.
It is essential that leaders remember the importance of their role. They are not only the lead of the organization, but also are mentors, role models, and managers of the organization. Good leadership involves active listening and critical self-reflection.
Active listening is a vital skill in leadership that gets a great deal of lip service, but little true listening happens in organizations. Leaders typically express a strong desire for workers to come to them, but do not necessarily want to hear what workers are saying. In short, leaders struggle with active listening because it can be a double-edged sword. If I hear what workers are saying, then what do I do? Active listening does improve leadership and the overall organizational culture. It is worth the leader to invest in the development of active listening skills.
Leaders also need to develop critical self-reflection skills to ensure that their own behavior is sending the messages that they want their workers to implement. Understanding our behavior and the influence it has on others is part of self-reflection. Another key part is modifying and changing the behavior that may be influencing the workers and the organization negatively.
Active listening and critical self-reflection for leaders are skills that can prevent and stop persistent workplace aggression improving the workplace environment for everyone.
If you are struggling in your organization with persistent workplace aggression, I can help. Please contact me directly at email@example.com or (320)-309-2360.