Romancing the Bullies

how to become self aware

Summary: How to become more self-aware is vital for workplace productivity. Here is what you can do.

Dear Dr. Sylvia, 

My boss is driving me crazy. I want to help and be a great colleague. However, what he is doing makes no sense. Could you help me understand? 

For example, He ignores those who want to help him make our company great again. 

You see, we have been in a downward slump recently. Sadly, No one is sure how to change the situation.

However, we are all ready and willing to help find creative solutions. I know he needs to learn how to become more self-aware.

In fact, I guess we all need to learn how to become more self-aware.

Playing favorites is a deadly game at work.

But, he ignores us, and instead, he “romances” those who are the biggest bullies. That means he focuses on the super-achievers who are always telling the world how great they are.

Therefore, they are the only ones he listens to.

He always praises them for the way they perform. He thinks their performance is the only route to success.

Even though they make false promises to customers, the rest of us have to clean up the mess they leave behind.

There is a vast difference between self-interest and self-awareness.

We all know they are only out for their own self-interest. So that you know, there are two of these bullies on our team.

In addition, everyone worries they will take advantage when they think the time to strike is right. 

Furthermore, frustration is rampant. My concern is that we may lose our best employees and end up bankrupt.  

All I can tell you is that he sings the praises of these jerks and ignores everyone else. 



Is it possible to help your boss be a better leader?

Dear Concerned, 

It is great that you are concerned about how your boss is handling relationships. You see, your boss, it seems, is “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Now, please hear me. I am not talking about a secretive relationship. And I am not talking about only praising the top go-getters.

That is to say, what I want to do is underline some areas of development your boss needs to learn.

Apparently, he has no training in whole system thinking.

When you look at the system, everyone is included. All ideas are important.

In today’s workplace the winners will be those who are self-aware.

As long as leaders play by the old rules, there is lost productivity.

Your boss is playing to the “bullies.” This may be for reasons not yet clear to you (or to him).

Above all, the question is both for you and your boss.

To clarify, how can you help him see what his behavior is doing to the rest of the staff?

Self-awareness is best when the whole staff gets some training

For example, I was reading about a famous executive who ended up creating a great deal of havoc at work. It’s because he never came to grips with his childhood anger at his father. This was stated in the article.

Similarly, it sounds like your boss may be in the same situation.  They both have to learn how to become more self-aware.

In fact, people often strive to get advice from someone similar to what they got from a parent.

There may have been a good return on the investment as a child. However, it usually does not work out so well later in life.

All leadership development programs should have modules to help leaders become more self-aware.  

And that means time is best set aside for leaders to observe their own behavior.

For example, it is always about critiquing those who report to the boss in your organization.

I bet you use scorecards, reviews, and performance improvement plans. Don’t get me wrong, this is good, just not enough.

So, in this old way of working, you have outdated ways of looking at present situations.

Then, you continue to respond with what is familiar. 

Behavior rarely changes with limited self-awareness.

Mostly, your boss apparently tends to listen to those who appear stronger and more competent. Think about the leader I mentioned in the example above. There is a desire to gravitate to someone familiar who can give what he thinks is the best advice.

He sees his team through the eyes of the child who needed to perform for his father. I bet the two bullies you mention are familiar in personality to what was in his childhood.

How to help if you are “just” part of the team.

In any case, the question is, “What can YOU do?” 

You are, as they say, “between a rock and a hard place.”

And yet, you need to do something. It does seem like that is why you wrote to me.

However, whether it helps or not, you can decide that in the future. 

I suggest you have a talk with your boss and begin to add some personal info about you. 

During the conversation, you can bring up something about your own relationship with your father. Then ask him about how his dad gave advice. 

People often love to talk about themselves, and he may give you enough room to say something like…. “Have you noticed how much ( the bully) is like your dad?  

The boundaries between boss and employee are changing.

That may be enough for your boss to think in a new way. 

At that point, you need to bow out. Do not become his coach or therapist. Instead, suggest he talk with someone who can guide him toward new ways of working with the team. He may even find out how he still covets his dad’s recognition. 

This is a BIG issue, and I suggest you read “Don’t Bring It to Work” for a detailed way to work with old patterns in present times. Then you can give him a copy.

I hope this helps. 

To your success, 


P.S. I would love you to join my Stress Mastery Facebook group. Get more information about dealing with difficult situations at work. You will have the opportunity to look at the way old patterns cause so much present stress. And, I’m sure you’ll agree, we have enough stress in today’s world.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options