Is this Leadership or Bullying

One participant, a young woman , immediately volunteered an account of how she had confronted a member of her team about the standard of their work. 
" I challenged her and she left - walked out of the building the same day". The woman said. " I had really prepared using feedback from the role play we did . It was really effective. I think I was able to stand my ground better. I am a bit of a coward sometimes when it comes to challenging people , but I felt really strong about what I was saying". ( Guardian 16 March 2016).

Your initial reaction to this quote may depend on whether or not you are a manager. Whether you think that managers need to inject some rigour into a too cosy culture, in this case social work but it could just as easily be teaching,nursing or any profession, or whether you think this is typical of a harsh, performance driven managerialism. 

The young woman was on a management development program being delivered by First Line on behalf of Front Line the government's controversial fast track training scheme for elite graduates. Clearly Front Line think that social work managers need to confront and challenge reflecting a view by ministers that social workers have in the past not been subject to sufficiently rigorous professional challenges. 

As a senior manager I don't remember there being much of a problem about managers challenging poor practise may be a tendency to view absence management as some how the responsibility of HR or struggling to manage conflicts between team members but not good practice. 

My reaction to this quote was that the manager seemed almost gleeful that the social worker had been so up set she had to leave the building. I would anticipate a claim for constructive dismissal.
More worrying is that this is how the government expects all managers to behave!
Blair McPherson former director  


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