We’ve all heard stories (or experienced firsthand) about leaders who abuse their positions of power. If you are in a leadership role, then it’s important to know the difference between being a leader and a bully.

A leader

A leader understands that their role is to help the team achieve a common goal. They’re able to show empathy and understanding when necessary, and always aspire to set a good example for the rest of the team. They allow each individual’s contribution of talent and opinion to add to the goal at hand.

A bully

A bully dominates and forces others to do as they’re told – even if they don’t agree. Bullies can sometimes get an odd sense of validation from others feel bad about themselves and instead of building the team members, they tear them down.

Discipline vs Destruction

In any workplace, there are consequences for misconduct based on severity. Leaders understand that encouraging discipline within the team is completely different to destroying confidence and morale. Being unfair and disrespectful towards subordinates doesn’t encourage disciplined work, it only makes people fear you and feel uncomfortable in their place of work.

Teaching vs. Undermining

Teaching is meant to be helpful and conducive to the growth of the team, while undermining shows a level of disrespect, and no one wants to feel disrespected. Bullies undermine their team members by humiliating them, being quick to publicly point out their mistakes, and openly comparing them to other members of the group. Good leaders are patient and can give constructive criticism.

Joking vs. Taunting

Everyone enjoys some humour every now and then, but when it’s directed at someone’s faults, it’s not really a joke. Bullies make it difficult for members of their team to want to interact with them outside of work because they can be taunting and border on offensive. As a leader, it’s your job to be sensitive to your team members’ weaknesses and not use them to offend them, even as a joke.

Being a good leader is all about putting fairness and the team’s success above anything else. Leaders are able to admit when they’ve made a mistake and put the needs of their team above everything else, while bullies often do the opposite. You can choose the type of leader you’d like to become by focusing on the positive qualities we’ve just outlined.

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