An Act of Workplace Violence

An Act of Workplace Violence

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An Act of Workplace Violence
Leadership carries with itself many benefits. Conversely, leadership also possesses many demands and challenges. According to Clark (1997), ”leadership’s main function is to produce movement and constructive or adaptive change through processes, such as establishing direction through visioning, aligning people, motivating, and inspiring” (p. 1). Unquestionably, this is a monumental task by any standard. Moreover, many expect leaders to perform these functions perfectly. Leaders like all of us, however, make errors. Lapses in good judgment occur.
Negative Leadership Behavior
A colleague, Mary Doe, borrowed a glass bowl for office use. After returning from lunch she picked up the bag containing the bowl. Looking inside saw the glass bowl broken into pebble size pieces. Beatriz asked others what had happened; no one had any ideas.
The next day I saw my direct supervisor, Johana, and although she was aware of the situation Johana said not a word to me regarding what had occurred. Later that day, Johana’s supervisor, Romea was in the office. I spoke to Romea who was unaware of the event and said it would be discussed at the next staff meeting. I waited one month but it was never discussed at the staff meetings nor did Romea or Johana ever speak with me about this incident.
I then met with my department manager, Beatriz and detailed the incident. Beatriz immediately contacted the Security Division. Security indicated the incident met all the criteria for workplace violence and launched an investigation. The security report indicated that it was their belief that Johana had intentionally broken my bowl but without definitive proof no disciplinary action against Johana was taken.
Analysis of Leadership Behavior
The breaking of the bowl was an act of intimidation and according to Waddington, Badger and Bull (2005), “…violence, threats and intimidation experienced in the workplace.”(p. 141) are included in the definition of workplace violence. This bullying resulted in the loss of the sense of safety at work. Safety is one of the basic needs according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Moran, 2009). It is the responsibility of the leader to create a safe environment for staff so that all efforts are focused on the project at hand. Blanca failed to create such an environment.
A leader should seek to inspire and motivate others.

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Brenner (2007 ) states, “a leader should be a positive influence to the project team.” (p. 19). This leader’s actions, on the other hand, caused staff to become uninspired and unmotivated. The staff, instead of believing they were an important part of the team now wondered where they “fit in”.
Open communication and constructive dialogue between a leader and staff is imperative. According to Brenner (2007), “Good communication from the leader helps to increase the working relationship between all members of the team.” (p. 17). The leaders choice to never speak about the incident resulted in tension among the team since members were wondering who was responsible and uninformed about what may or may not be occurring behind the scenes. Had open communication occurred benefits could have been resulted in, as K. Christmas (2007) states, “raising awareness…leads to a safer and more harmonious work environment (p. 2).
Finally, staff diversity reaps numerous and substantial benefits. In contrast when one race is set apart intense issues arise. This act of intimidation was perpetrated against the only
Caucasian in the office. This resulted in questions being raised concerning the leaders attitude towards inclusiveness and the effects of this attitude. It has been shown that employees in offices racially different to themselves who experience a climate that is not inclusive experience higher work turnover as well as more physical symptoms of stress (Ragins & Gonzalez, et al. 2012).
Recommendation for Strengthening Leadership Behavior
A leader should endeavor to create a safe work environment and never even consider committing an act of violence or intimidation towards an employee. Should a leader feel the desire to do so they should seek outside council, through for example Human Resources. Leaders should inspire and motive staff by being good role models, never exhibiting negative behavior of this level. Communication, both written and oral are imperative in incidents such as this and disagreements must be dealt with quickly as morale is greatly affected. Diversity within their team should truly be encouraged by leaders.
Leaders at times will undoubtedly make errors resulting in undesirable leadership. These errors and their short as well as long-term effects can be minimized through the use of proven leadership principles. These principles include: serving as a good role model, inspiring and motivating staff, encouraging tolerance as well as diversity and communication in various forms. A leader using these principles may avoid numerous situations of negative leadership and should an incident occur the use of these principles will minimize the negative ramifications.

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