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Eradicating workplace bullying begins at the top

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
Eradicating Workplace Bullying Begins At The Top

Reducing and eliminating workplace bullying comes down to management. Good leaders have the power to make a positive impact on team cohesion, and this needs to be championed at all times if a workplace is to flourish.

Adam Blum, a motivational speaker and the author of Easy Target, discussed his experience with workplace bullying, noting that real change needs to come from the top.

“I was bullied relentlessly at work – change needs to lead from the top. The impact that a manager can have on you is often not considered until it is exceptional at either end of the spectrum. Thankfully, there are experiences where a people manager makes a significant positive impact; however, mine was not one of them,” Blum said.


“As a leader now, I fail to understand why, throughout my working career, I experienced such terrible managers. One in particular comes to mind. A man who harassed and berated me to the point where I attempted to end my life as a direct result of blue-collar bullying. That final day he had called me three words that crumbled what little remained of my resilience threshold – he called me a liar, a bludger, and a thief. Three words that are etched in my memory forever.”

The impact these types of abusive professional relationships can have on individual wellbeing is significant. Further than affecting team cohesion and workplace productivity, the demoralising and mental toll can be severe.

Importance of resilience

Building work teams’ resilience can be a great way to reduce the impact of negative cohesion. Blum highlighted that this has never been more important.

“As we continue to advance technologically, personal resilience is more important than ever. Constant demands as people are asked to consistently perform at a higher level easily unsettle the ‘average Joe’, and it’s a slippery slope to battling self-confidence without a resilience threshold,” he said.

“Resilience provides a force field that protects anyone from taking anything personally and removes the feeling of responsibility for everything that happens around us. A resilience threshold is just like a muscle that needs to be exercised, and like physical health, it is created from constant sessions in the mental ‘gym’.”

So, how can individuals and leaders help promote resilience? According to Blum, there are a few key ways:

  • Building resilience: Resilience is often built through adversity. For me, that was the case. It’s not that we necessarily need to put ourselves in the line of fire to get “tough”, but rather that there are simple practices that help.
  • Meditation: Daily meditation slows the brain waves and allows us to be with our thoughts without judgement. Centring thoughts removes the emotional reaction and provides clarity for each situation.
  • Daily exercise – no matter how strenuous: Exercise cannot be underestimated for its benefits in building resilience. Studies demonstrate that people who exercise experience higher vitality and enthusiasm and lower levels of tension and fatigue. Daily exercise sets up the foundations for a healthy mind that can tolerate greater stress with less effort.
  • Journalling: Journalling gets our thoughts down on paper and clears negativity simply by taking thoughts out of our heads and onto the page. You will be amazed when you look back a week, a month, and six months down the track at how far you have come just by writing how you are feeling day by day. Through all the struggles and the pain, you are activating a more resilient version of yourself.

“Find what works for you. Not everything I do will work for everyone, but testing and adjusting a broad range of techniques and implementing them into your daily routine will build your resilience shield,” Blum said.

“A good leader understands that the effectiveness of their team is a direct reflection of a supportive and cohesive workplace. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Leaders can build resilience in individuals by allowing them to be mentored through a formal or informal program.”

He concluded: “Leaders can ensure their teams are aware of mental health support and resources and create an environment where their workers feel comfortable and courageous enough to speak up when they need help. Leaders hold their subordinate leaders accountable for the environment they create and foster, just as they are ultimately responsible.”



Harassment is defined as persistent behaviour or acts that intimidate, threaten, or uncomfortably affect other employees at work. Because of anti-discrimination laws and the Fair Work Act of 2009, harassment in Australia is prohibited on the basis of protected characteristics.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.