The boss screamed, on my morning off, after a long week of business travel. Never, in my personal or professional life, had anyone spoken to me this way.

“HONEY – THIS ISN’T MY FIRST RODEO” the boss screamed at full volume. “I won’t let you challenge my leadership.”

I was shocked. I had no idea what I had said or done to cause this leader to feel threatened. No idea at all. I was working hard with great success, for a mission that mattered.

My first reaction was to say, please don’t call me honey.

I knew the value and worth I brought to this work. What was happening??

The yelling (and the “honey’s”) continued. I was told it was clear I wanted to lead work that was given to a coworker. I didn’t. I was told that my colleagues asked ‘what’s wrong with her‘ because my opinion differed from the one they held. I was told I needed to know my place and stay in my swim lane.

As a member of the Executive Team, I thought I was in my swim lane.

Of course, that’s what bullies do.

They don’t spend time, attention, talent on building strong teams, they isolate the dissenting point of view from their team-mates. They micro-manage you in public. They continuously say, because I said so..I’m the boss. They treat organization’s like their own personal domains and fail to do the difficult internal work that is required to achieve success.

I choose to believe there is no ill intent. I think it is a lack of training, understanding and self-confidence that creates workplace bullies.

It wasn’t the first time this leader brought their power down on me, it wasn’t even the worst example, but it was the beginning of the end. I don’t miss that workplace. I do miss some of the kind, thoughtful, intentional mission focused folks with whom I worked. Thankfully, I’ve found a new tribe who focus on #humansfirst. Who believe we need to #makeworkmorehuman. Who are #purposedriven and lead with their hearts.

I’m deeply grateful to leaders like this one. Their inability to see their own self-worth and that of others…to see the potential of great teams…helped me to identify my own life’s purpose.

I’ve just completed a research study on culture and organizational health in the social profit sector. If you’d like a copy, please complete the contact form on my website with the title ‘research’ and I’m happy to share.