As a “half-blood American Indian . . . [with] not enough Indian blood to return to her people and not enough white blood to be considered adoptable,” Dr. Debra Stewart fell into the foster system and felt the pain of being bullied at a young age.
In response, she has gathered tools to help stop organizational bullying and protect the marginalized using a surprising approach: finding the good in bullies. Focusing on what Stewart calls the “triad” of bullies, victims and bystanders, this book aims to correct toxicity and bring out the best in everyone at a corporation.
Stewart believes bullies are those who inappropriately use their talents, assets that would be valuable to the workplace if appropriately aligned with company missions. She posits that bullying is a systemic problem that cannot exist without people playing victim and bystander roles. As such, solutions must be holistic.
Stewart recommends companies take immediate measures, such as revising employee screenings to prevent poor hires, and consider long-range fixes, including cultural and needs assessments and plans to create ongoing change.
Unfortunately, the author doesn’t address how victims can act in healthy ways without significant support of workplace leaders. Additionally, in her attempts to see the good in bullies, she goes too far in blaming victims, recommending diversity training to refocus victims from self-centeredness to taking community-focused workplace approaches.
Stewart’s language can be academic and challenging (describing how bullying can be compared to terrorism, she writes that “immoral acts can be considered acceptable with cognitive reconstruction and reorganization of individual morals and values that justify the morality of affiliated group action.”) And although she cites numerous studies to bolster her arguments, she neglects to include case studies to show how this approach works in real life.
While managers may find interesting ideas here, the book is more academic than applicable. Ultimately, readers are likely to wish for more detail about how to implement such a program in a real-world setting.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.