Many of our readers will have experienced bullying directly and if not the messages of Anti-Bullying Week have put the onus on business leaders to address toxic work cultures. Serial social entrepreneurs Sara Turnbull & Jeannette Pearce have experienced first hand how destructive bullying can be in the workplace. They have learned through experience to be charmingly disruptive, to take on the fight but able to look after themselves and others with kindness. JP & Sara recognise that entrepreneurs set the tone and the soul of their business and in their book Better Off Working Wild they’ve set out the tools and attitudes to help business leaders build a better way of working. We asked Sara to draw out their top five approaches to create anti-bullying organisations and improve work for everyone.
Recognise that everyone’s got a bit of Powercock in them
You’re in danger of becoming a first-class Powercock when you get the increasing sense that everything hangs on you and that, without you, the business will crumble. So in giving too much, you feel both angry at the opportunity cost and also justified in being upset and feeling let down by everyone. Ultimately, this leaves you conducting your work as though you’re living in a state of war, armed with the misconception that it’s perfectly all right to behave like an ass to anyone not feeding your war effort. Naturally, this is going to be as bad for you as it is unbearable for everyone around you, so how can you be gentler while still being a warrior?
Choose to join the Gentle Warriors
To be a Gentle Warrior is to lead with love, bring people to a better place, fight fair and with principles. As a leader, this means doing the battle of business with kindness, humility and compassion. To understand this, think about the warrior in yoga – open poses with arms outstretched. It takes greater courage and strength than Powercocking and requires guidance, nurturing and respect for others. It’s not about being aggressive but being brave. A call to be ‘brave and true’, has existed across human history in many if not all cultures. Models of gentle warriors, such as the Samurai or the Knights of the Round Table, continue to have resonance today. As an entrepreneur you can help your team and clients to be Gentle Warriors by showing vulnerability and humility in your style of working and by celebrating the times when someone in your team spoke up, did the hard thing, channelled their Gentle Warrior.
Look in the shadows
Managing immature emotions at work is exhausting. We’ve all come across toddlers in the workplace – not cute, real toddlers, of course, but the intrusive toddler-selves we revert to when the going gets tough. We were all toddlers (real ones) once, and all have shadow-selves, made of the parts of ourselves we have ignored or hidden in order to present a more pleasing ‘self ’ to the world. It’s down to us all, then, to seek our shadow-selves through self-development or therapy – to find, listen to and give comfort to our toddler-self. As the leader in your organisation, rethink training and send people on exploratory journeys that help them work on themselves and, in doing so, help your people to be their best – freed from their worst behaviours and destructive habits.
Put yourself to bed like you would a child
Sleep is an essential part of our natural rhythm – it reduces stress, increases creativity and contributes to a longer, fuller life. Take care to recharge your own battery the way you charge your phone. Don’t join the moody people (half of whom are moody from lack of sleep). Workplace harassment, bullying and unwanted sexual attention at work have been shown, across a range of studies, to be associated with poor sleep. So take sleep seriously. Really make a deal with yourself to get the right amount of quality sleep. Go to sleep, close your eyes. Wake up a lovelier version of yourself (and a much easier one to work with).
Get out there
Get outside and into wild open spaces as often as you can to touch life and feel the elements. Finding a way to feel the power of the weather is sure to put your day (and the business) in perspective. Reports say that children should be outside for four to six hours a day. But what about the grown-ups? Most working environments make it di$cult, if not impossible, to experience nature in any form. The human need to go outside to reset ourselves is as old as time. Author and therapist LR Heartsong describes his compulsion to follow his wild soul ‘back out into the trees … where I wake up again and remember.’ Try this – walk away from your desk and away from the screen and meet yourself outdoors. Be connected to nature and the natural world. Be wild of heart and wild of mind. Get Out There also in your thinking. Get Out There to shake off that Powercock, remember your place in the world and be humbled. You are the universe and the universe is in you.