The big news from the athletic world this week came from the NFL. We had one player – Martin – accuse another player – Incognito – of bullying him. Because of the bullying, Martin left the Miami Dolphins team.
If it were just hazing, I don’t think there is any doubt that hazing can advance to bullying. Bullying is never acceptable in any way, in any venue! In our forty-four years of coaching, we allowed no hazing.
I don’t believe most leaders encounter hazing and bullying in their organizations. But they do deal with humor, and just as hazing can lead to bullying, humor can lead to hurt.
Leaders have to use their words and their humor carefully. What the leader may think is humorous has the potential to cause hurt in the recipient and affect the entire organization negatively.
I once worked with a leader who would use what he thought was humorous toward one of his subordinates. We all liked and respected the man he singled out fairly regularly and lost respect for the leader. What he thought was funny, we thought was ignorant.
As coaches and as leaders we do want to see some levity on our teams. Striking the right balance between levity and seriousness is a healthy thing for organizations. However, we always have to be careful that the humor never crosses the line resulting in something hurtful. Respect cannot be compromised.