Workplace bullying in higher education remains a persistent problem creating deleterious issues for the target enduring the abuse and for the organization standing mute when workplace bullying is reported. The most recent analysis reported that 58% of higher education respondents are affected by workplace bullying (Hollis, 2018) and a meta-analysis of data collected in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 shows that 61% of all American higher education respondents are affected by workplace bullying. Faculty bullies have different styles such as the ill-tempered curmudgeon, the restrictive and punitive Procrustes figure, and the envious Snow White type. Though workplace bullying may have myriad of figures, bullies’ unchecked behavior hurts academic departments.
This essay utilizes Brown and Mitchell’s (2010) ethical leadership theory to reflect on leadership in light some recent workplace bullying and harassment cases reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Workplace bullying among the faculty mushrooms when the curmudgeon, the Procrustes figure, and the Snow White weld their power without interruption, creating precarity, that is an unstable work environment, for all involved. Regardless of the style of bullying, or the target as colleagues or students, the cases from The Chronicle point to the common denominator, an apathetic leadership, which permits this abuse for years, culminating in fractured careers and public lawsuits.