Team Leaders: Do You Stop Team Bullies? | #LeadMorale #EndBullying

Team leaders sometimes have special challenges to stop bullies and bullying on their teams. They are in between higher management beliefs and the team members needs for a bully-free workplace. Unless the organization has a no bullying policy and training to make it happen, the team leaders can feel stuck in the middle. Here’s how team leaders can escape that and stop team bullies.

Team Leaders Stop Bullies: Image is human made out of a paper clip collapsed between granite & marble.

Team Leaders: Do You Stop Team Bullies? Image licensed via

Image licensed via

Team Leaders: 5 Steps to Stop Bullies

  1. Learn & spot what bullying looks like. Not all bullying is aggressive and outwardly abusive.

  2. Ask the team to define bullying. To create a bully-free culture on your team, engage everyone. Dig into “what ifs” that generate deeper discussion. Have everyone offer examples.

  3. Likewise, ask the team to list positive team behaviors. To stop a bad behavior, everyone must know what to do instead.

  4. With these three steps complete, share with your team what you will say when you spot bullying. Listen to their suggested changes and then finalize it. Team member buy-in strengthens everyone’s ability to stop bullies.

  5. Hold training in how to resolve conflict. Even people who don’t generally bully can fall into it during fierce differences of opinion. The extra advantage of this training is that it increases team success even if bullying isn’t an issue.

Be Proactive to Handle Special Challenges

  • Your managers and leaders don’t think bullying is a problem. Help them see the impact bullying has on productivity. They may believe that pushing people around gets better results. Show them respectfully that this traditional thinking doesn’t work with employees today. There are many studies you can share with them.

  • Similarly, they applaud a bullying star performer’s results and overlook the horrid behavior. As team leader, outline how the bully’s behavior is reducing overall results. Assure them that with their support, you can help the bullying star performer become a non-bullying star performer.

  • Discuss with these managers and leaders the risks of a bullying culture including the risks of employee lawsuits against the company. They can minimize these risks by creating a bully-free culture.

Final Thought

Every organization has a culture of how people interact and what is acceptable. Don’t leave it to chance. Discuss what is OK and not OK. When a team creates the guidelines, all can buy-in to them, live within them, and address abuses when they happen.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Team Voice: Use It For a Positive Bully-Free Culture
5 Extremes That Harm Positive Team Culture
The Slippery Steps of Bullying
10 Actions Peace-Loving Leaders Do Wrong in Conflict

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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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2 Responses to “Team Leaders: Do You Stop Team Bullies? | #LeadMorale #EndBullying”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    I appreciate the second special challenge you highlighted. Years ago, when I worked for a big consulting firm, it was an up or out culture. You moved up on a specific timeline or it was time to go. There was one guy who was moving at a good clip who senior management loved. Unfortunately, he treated the people below him, the ones who worked for him, like crap. He was a bully. Unfortunately, many exceptional people left after working for him and mentioned him by name during their exit interviews. Even then, the clients and a few senior guys loved him so much, they chose to tolerate his bullying behavior. There were many other options including coaching interventions that may have made a difference to him as an individual and to the organizational culture. When people see that their company will not tolerate bullies, they’re more likely to speak up when they see it happening. It’s also a key component to create a great place to work.

    Thanks, Kate! Will share!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I always love your real-time examples Alli. There are so many instances where coaching can stop bullying behavior in the workplace yet if upper leadership doesn’t endorse this intervention, people leave the bullies and thus the company.

      Many thanks for your comment!

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