This week I am tackling a more difficult aspect of leadership, dealing with bad leaders. Many of the posts so far this month have talked about empowering, inspirational and supportive leaders in the GLAM sector, which thankfully appear to be in abundance. I feel especially proud to personally know a few of these amazing people who actively advocate for their staff. However, I feel that there’s often hesitation to talk openly about the negative experiences of leadership.
Bad experiences of leadership manifest in many different ways and can consist of oppressive or bullying behaviour. We may have been exposed to this ourselves from our managers or perhaps we’ve heard about it from unhappy GLAM friends. We often feel powerless to do anything and are unsure how to handle these situations. Bad management can affect all aspects of your life, if you let it. Going into a toxic environment everyday can be exhausting and not knowing how to deal with this can be stressful and could negatively impact your mental health. There is also a saying that many people don’t leave a bad company, they leave a bad manager.
Bad leadership is on our minds more than ever with the latest changes in the world. With Trump as President of the USA this affects the balance of power in the world immensely, and more importantly affects our GLAM colleagues in America. This fast five post takes inspiration from articles such as this New York times piece on how to deal with the era of President Trump and offers steps to stand up to BAD! and SAD! leaders. If we start by finding ways to empower and advocate for ourselves when no one else around us will, and become the awesome leaders we admire, then hopefully we can start to build a world full of great leaders that have these qualities.
Step 1: Read the book Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (available in kindle or paperback). This book is a lighthearted and humorous way of looking at why we care so much about what other people think of us and why we should stop giving a fuck. Vogue narrows the top 5 life lessons which Knight talks about in the book, my favourite one being - literally not giving one single fuck and saving your fucks for things that matter most to you.
Step 2: Along the same vein of Knight’s book, there is this great HVNGRY article too on how to stop saying sorry and stop apologising for things you shouldn’t be sorry for. Better yet, download this Google chrome plugin Just Not Sorry and it will do all the work for you. And remember, it’s okay to have your own opinions AND professionally disagree with a colleague without needing to apologise for it.
Step 3: Read this practical advice on how to successfully handle aggressive and controlling difficult people. It offers a variety of ways of keeping your focus and sense of calm in the face of aggressive or intimidating behaviour. There are a million different articles on the internet that have similar strategies, so find something that works for you. Non Violent Communication is another strategy used to negate and diffuse difficult situations effectively. If you want other coping mechanisms then look into the Transactional Analysis methods, which address the parent, adult and child states of interpersonal communication.
Step 4: If you feel you really need more support, then talk to a professional who can help. There are many services such as the Public Service Association (PSA) if you are a member, and EAP services that can help you specifically for work situations. Many institutions pay for these services so they are free for staff and anonymous to use. Talk to a trusted colleague, a friend or to someone else within your institution. If you think the situation is serious then raise it with human resources and let them know what is happening. As long as you talk about what is happening, you can start dealing with ways to fix it. Whether that comes from a more formal process or it is something you can manage better by yourself over time with guidance from professionals.
Step 5: Look after yourself. As cliche as it sounds, you come first and your wellbeing is most important. Take time to look after yourself and know that it’s okay to let yourself feel any emotion you need to. Remember that your GLAM and Tusk family are here and will always be here to listen and support you.
Disclaimer: Everyone’s experiences are different and everyone deals with bad experiences in different ways. By no means does this blog constitute professional advice, so we encourage you to seek professional expertise if needed.