Monday, January 21, 2019

Combating Bullying and Abuse in School and College Sports for 40 + years; Author and Former College Football Player and Coach Outlines a 4-Step Program

Successful Leaders Aren’t Bullies Author Matt Paknis teaches coaches how to
detect, address, prevent and transcend bullying


MARION, Mass., Jan. 10, 2019—Reports of rampant bullying in school sports programs by coaches, officials and players resulting in injury, depression and even player deaths, have raised awareness of the need for education and preventative programs designed to protect youth. Matt Paknis, a leadership consultant, former college football coach and champion lineman who is himself a survivor of childhood abuse, teaches how to build healthy sports cultures that help student athletes thrive with a program to detect, address, prevent and transcend bullying.

“It’s time to stop this devastating tailspin of bullying in America, starting with high school sports,” said Matt, author of the newly released book, Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies: How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations. “The brutal hazing and locker room sexual abuse among high school teammates in Damascus, Maryland and Sayreville, New Jersey, the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, and other atrocities show that scholastic and collegiate sports programs appear to be teaching bullies to exercise power through the humiliation of their targets.”

Propelled by his personal mission to protect others from suffering the consequences of acute abuse and trauma, Matt drew on his personal experience as a survivor of abuse, his almost two decades of leading teams to championships as a player and coach, and his 27 years of management consulting with global organizations to develop his four-step program for sports. He asks: “How did American sport degenerate to where children think it is ok to assault a teammate? What type of team encourages a boy at fifteen to seek to control, as bullies do, to compensate for feeling inadequate or incompetent?”

In every organization where Matt addressed abusive situations, senior officials in powerful positions were aware of the abuse and chose to ignore it. As a result, inappropriate behaviors were never publicized, and no reporting processes were implemented to stop, shed light upon, transcend, or prevent abusive and bullying behaviors. To help keep student athletes safe, he advocates the following four-step anti-bullying program for schools:

Detect – Bullying is aggressive and repetitive behavior, resulting in an imbalance of power. Bullying results when athletes don’t separate these actions in sport from interpersonal transactions. Unhealthy high school teams are marked by sick egos and cliques where prima donnas, or a coach’s favorites, are allowed to control with deceptions and abuse, where some athletes are in power often at the expense of safety, performance and retaining great talent. Being a member of these teams is not fun but perceived to be mandatory for survival.

Bullying and "horseplay" can be confused. What some consider silly others perceive as offensive or malicious. Teasing and horseplay cross over to bullying when the comments and contact are no longer a form of bonding and instead an aggressive and repetitive manner to demean a teammate.

Reporting bullying behavior is very taboo among teen groups where research shows 10 percent are targets, five percent initiate the bullying, and almost 85 percent are bystanders. Bystanders do not instigate but can enable or encourage bullying. Most bystanders oppose bullying, yet feel helpless to stop it. This destroys trust, the essential ingredient in great teams and relationships.

Address – The best way to address bullying is for leaders, e.g., coaches, athletic directors, principals, captains, and teammates, to model healthy behaviors and to publicize, intervene, and stop all forms of bullying. Coaches and athletic officials and principals are hired to know what’s happening on their teams. Matt recalls that his championship high school teams had no bullying because his coach never tolerated it.

Prevent – Bullies are narcissists who are convinced they’re special, yet they are threatened by talent in others. To prevent bullying, parents and athletes need to help these insecure players and coaches to see themselves rationally—to realize that only two percent of high school athletes get college scholarships, and only two percent of college athletes turn professional. In addition, if everyone on the team can distinguish inappropriate from appropriate behaviors and is encouraged and empowered to demonstrate healthy transactions and to report bullying to team and school officials, the culture will shift. High school team bullies, regardless of talent or favoritism, should be given consequences commensurate with their crime and administered with a consistent and stern discipline process, up to and including expulsion from the team.

Transcend – Coaches and school officials must establish, display, and monitor core values and beliefs reflected by behavioral standards, ensuring everyone feels welcome and safe. Athletes prone to bully either change or leave. People respect and trust each other. They value differences. They gauge themselves by, and collectively strive to improve, their weakest members’ growth. The team swarms to protect each other and to help or address problems. A deep desire exists to influence each other in positive ways with collaboration, shared accountability, and trust. Coaches are honest and transparent. They use film and behaviors to recognize and correct performance. They use facts. Parents stay on the perimeter and trust all coaching decisions.

“The original Hellenic intent of sport was to uplift thought and conduct, to test human potential, and to better society,” said Matt. “If a sport doesn’t uplift society, it should cease to exist in its destructive form.”

Combating Childhood Abuse and Bullying for 50 + years; A Former College Football Player and Coach and Survivor Discusses How to Heal From and End Traumatic Childhoods

Click here to learn more and to hear my 1-4-19 interview with NAASCA


It was very edifying to talk with NAASCA's Bill, Mary, Carol, and Bobby on Friday night. Thank you for this opportunity.

Below please find a few points culled from the interview and in reflection to help adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse integrate and transcend their significant childhood traumas.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a link to the "Stop Child Abuse Now" talk radio show where Matt appeard in early January: Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) - 2045 -- Special guest Matt Paknis

Early intervention with a great counselor, deep love from my ailing mother and her friends, stopping the abuse, healthy involvement in sports, and in particular with football, great coaches, role models, teammates, and my striving for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health helped me transcend long term exposure to four major childhood traumas; experiencing and witnessing domestic violence, sexual abuse, and the terminal illness and death of my young mom.

Early counseling helped me return to basic functioning, but it took twenty years, and my inability to sleep or be attentive to my toddler daughters, for me to return to counseling to address and to integrate these traumas. It's taken another twenty years to process and to return to normal sleep sans assistance.

Here are some healing truths I believe helped me integrate my early abuse to reach relevant recovery. It is my hope they comfort and empower the reader.

1. Most pedophiles were abused, but only a very small portion of sexual abuse survivors choose to repeat the cycle. The behavior is deviant and not natural. Thus, it must be learned. However, as with psychopaths, some folks may be born with this deviance.

2. Once a person chooses to repeat or to perpetuate the cycle of sexual abuse, the behavior appears to become a compulsion, like alcoholism and drug addiction, or physical abuse, and very difficult to stop.

3. The key to stopping the cycle is to identify victims early and to intervene with constructive counseling and positive role models before their trauma plays out destructively against themselves or others. When it's too late for early intervention, the below steps following number nine can help.

4. Pedophilia is not sex. Sex is a consensual act between adults from comparable peer groups. Pedophilia, like all abuse and bullying, is derived from a need for power and control, perpetrated by a person with more physical, financial, emotional, psychological, or status power, who controls and dominates a victim with sexual acts.

5. A target or victim is a person in a subservient role or place in his or her life. The acts may offer some confusing comfort to the victim, but there is no love, concern, or compassion involved. The acts are perpetrated to fulfill the perpetrator's deviant needs.

6. All guilt / shame / dishonor / disgust / fault belongs with the perpetrator, and with complicit individuals who condoned or colluded to perpetuate these acts of molestation by keeping them in the dark.

7. Childhood sexual abuse survivors may become frozen, or compartmentalized, by the horrific, traumatic, assaults they experienced as children. If a childhood victim does not receive treatment within thirty days of the initial assault, the trauma can change brain chemistry leading the victim to experience post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

8. Some of the PTSD symptoms victims may experience include intrusive thoughts, difficulty in distinguishing truth from fiction, hyper vigilance, increased levels of anxiety, fear, and panic, short- and long-term memory deficits, sleep disruption, and dissociative symptoms. These symptoms keep victims from moving on and living fulfilling lives. Tragically, without constructive intervention, many victims end their lives early, or attempt to self-medicate with alcohol and illicit drugs. This can lead to destructive addictions, further distancing a victim's capacity to address and to integrate the initial traumas.

9. The general steps survivors use to integrate past traumas, to shift from victims to survivors to thrivers, include:

A. Revealing secrets and fragments of one's person with licensed, trained and highly regarded / trusted trauma experts / professionals. Trust is a huge, if not the biggest, issue with survivors. Trust happens when one person knows he or she is safe with, and will be protected by, someone, or a group. They won't hurt the person when he or she is vulnerable. Predators exploit this trust and use feigned interest and phony gestures to confuse their victims. The goal in recovery is to combine all of one's parts to live as one whole, functional, person with the process to this outcome being assisted by trustworthy and competent counseling professionals.

B. Identify cognitive distortions - fears and criticisms cultivated by the perpetrator and the experience can undermine one's ability to live an autonomous and empowered life. Victims often inaccurately believe they are subservient and dependent on someone more powerful. Healthy survivors separate facts from opinions and live in the current moment, feeling empowered and in control of their destinies.

C. Identify deleterious behavior patterns (submissive or aggressive) fostered by these distortions by checking assumptions, perceptions, and mental models with reality and facts, by asking, “is this real or is this based on my fears, anxieties, confusion, frustration, or on my distorted need to control,” and then

D. Choose mindful, healthier, behaviors in the current moment, and more positive actions and outcomes with better plans in the present moment. It is important for survivors to recognize the source of their actions, so they can consciously choose better actions. The better outcomes foster better actions and the constructive and positive behavior cycle grows stronger.

E. Integrate one's healthy sense of self with other healthier people to maintain an integrated, whole, functional, mature perspective surround oneself with positive, honest, selfless, self-critical and truth seeking people who prioritize focusing on what's right, and not what's wrong, with others and who attack problems and not people.

When needed, a combination of talk therapy and prescription medicines can return survivors to stabilized brain chemical levels, rational thoughts, and a sense of wellbeing.

The reactions to childhood sexual abuse are learned as coping tools when the victim is a child. They are often ineffective and may seem hard to break. These traumas may also alter normal brain chemistry and distort the capacity for rational thought. These coping reactions can be relearned and corrected, leading survivors to happy and fulfilling lives. Childhood sexual assault wasn't your fault, you're not alone, healing is possible, and it's never too late to heal. May peace and goodness and love be with you on your journey to joy and peace.

Combating Workplace Bullying and Abuse for 30 + years, and How Successful Leaders Build Trust - An Interview with Matt Paknis

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.


Thank you Ross Smith for writing this SHRM blog post.

As written before on the SHRM blog, here and here, I believe trust is a critical component of successful teams and organizations. Matt Paknis has written a great new book, “Successful Leaders Aren’t Bullies” and I wanted to get his perspective on the importance of trust – in organizations, on teams, and in life.

Matt Paknis is a senior management consultant with six years of college football coaching and ten years of playing experience through five championship seasons whose focus is on lessening bullying in the workplace. He was a former assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno and has spoken publicly about being abused as a child. Matt transcended childhood bullying and the death of his mother with teamwork and leadership. He has dedicated over twenty-five years of consulting to helping global clients embrace healthy management practices to thrive. His latest book is Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies: How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations.

Thanks for joining Matt! Could you share a short overview of your book?

Thank you for this opportunity, Ross. Successful Leaders Aren’t Bullies presents actual bullying cases I’ve experienced and addressed in the workplace with clients over the past twenty-six years. It empowers good leaders to choose leadership and to understand the benefits of leading with healthy behaviors and to intervene and to stop bullying. It will inspire and mobilize bullied victims to overcome and to thrive by presenting examples of resilient and healthy individuals and organizations.

What do you think inspires people to follow a successful leader?

As a college football coach and then as a manager, responsible for overseeing and influencing the daily actions and behaviors of up to sixty people, as a sports captain in high school and in college and even as the president of the “animal house” in college when we became the first fraternity to return to campus housing after losing this privilege, and then working around for the globe with leaders to help them inspire followership, a few best practices emerged.

It’s all about trust, the greatest interpersonal motivator. Trust builds when a vulnerable person is protected from injury or harm. Leaders also build trust when their actions align with promises and when their behaviors reflect constituent shared and expressed values and beliefs. People are willing to listen and take action when they know a leader’s direction will keep them safe. The greatest leaders change attitudes and perspectives. They open minds. This requires people to suspend mental models and perceptions and to listen. This requires great trust, most influenced by, in order of impact, what they see in, how they hear, and what they learn from a leader’s message. People forget what leaders say or do, but they always remember how a leader makes them feel. They remember stories and actions proving a leader displays what, according to Gallop, constituents in America want their leaders to be; honest, competent, inspiring, forward thinking, and fair minded. If constituents trust a leader, they are willing to take risks.

I totally agree. However, building trust takes time – how do you inspire a team while you are building trust. Obviously, bullying is one way, but I suspect you have some ideas about alternatives…

Ownership and involvement. The best leaders sell, rather than tell. They delegate with constraints all decision making to people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy. They develop everyone in the organization to this point of competence and confidence, so everyone learns to make the best urgent and important decisions. If there’s an emergency, or when time is limited, a leader can decide and announce, or poll individuals and decide or poll the group and decide, but to increase ownership and involvement, it’s important for constituents to have skin in the game, to feel like they are being heard and what they have to say is valued and important. Coming to consensus and delegating with constraints augments followership and action.

What can great leaders do to keep an open dialogue?

Address difficult and emotional issues constructively, rather than destructively. The least offensive, and most direct, tool used to share or clarify someone's raw emotion, or true feelings, is by reflecting (making an observation as it's easier to agree on facts) like, "John, I notice you look away every time I pass you," and then guessing (or respectfully sharing one's opinion in the form of a question), like, "and I'm guessing my smile’s so bright it’s blinding," or, “It seems like you may be concerned about your upcoming deadline.” To clarify, check in with the other person by asking, "is this true?"

In your book, you call out some of the shortcomings of HR departments when it comes to bullies, are there things HR professionals can do to help make leaders successful?

I’ve worked in, and served, many human resources departments with exceptional people who care about employees, their rights, justice, and fair treatment. Rather than seeking the truth and protecting employees, many human resources departments are seen by individual contributors as a protector who only serves one side - management and the organization.

To be effective in building exceptional organizations and helping successful leaders, human resources needs autonomy and a balanced perspective. Management typically has the upper hand and all the power – usually at the expense of the individual contributor. To show I/C’s they can trust an organization, HR needs to outline and publicize, in the employee handbook or as part of company policy, specific, appropriate, behaviors all workers can expect from management. HR professionals can play a huge role, not just in eliminating poor leadership behaviors, but by helping to build trust in their organizations.

So, in summary, what are key things you would advise leaders to do as an alternative to bullying?

These three steps, 1. Making an observation, 2. Respectfully sharing opinions as questions, and 3. Clarifying allows one to inquire and share difficult or awkward thoughts in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner.

The greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Great leaders use trust, empowerment, and addressing the truth to bridge this gap and inspire followership and build world class organizations.


Tags:
Leadership
Trust
Ross.Smith's picture
Written by Ross.Smith

Ross Smith really enjoys getting a paycheck to “play” with software for 25 years now, over 20 at Microsoft. In September, 2014, he was nominated and accepted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He is one of the authors of “The Practical Guide to Defect Prevention” and holds six patents. 42projects has aspired to promote cultural change, “bring buzz and laughter to the hallways”. He is a member of the leadership council for the Anita Borg Institute. He was also part of the organizing committee for TEDxSeattle, and has recently been working closely with iUrbanTeen.org and Spreeha. In addition to his passion for creative techniques to improve the quality of the experience of using software, he’s explored organizational trust, enterprise gamification, management innovation, diversity and the future of education through games and with the Skype in the Classroom program. In December 2011, he was invited to the White House for a discussion on women in STEM. He was the keynote speaker for the American Road and Transportation Builder’s Transovation event in Fall 2014. The work of his teams have been mentioned in Forbes, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, PSFK, the American Journal of Play, Harvard Business Review, and the London School of Business. He is a blogger for the Society for Human Resource Management's SHRM Blog and regularly posts on management innovation. He is most excited by the current work on Skype Translator.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What Distinguishes a Championship Team?


What Distinguishes a Championship Team?

Clemson modeled it Monday night; the human spark of trust, love, creativity, humor, laughter, spiritual renewal, and awakening! These traits make any organization great and can't be suppressed by power or surpassed by AI (computers).



Thursday, January 3, 2019

What separates great teams and organizations from posers?


Brown teammates and the offensive linemen I coached there, at Penn State, and at URI were amazed to learn I was the sole three-year starter on three consecutive, 11-0, high school state championship football teams, consecutively ranked #3, #2, and after my senior season, #1 in the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger final top twenty poll. This, in part, was key to my resiliency and overcoming the death of my young mom. It also allowed me to receive scholarships and be recruited by prestigious universities. This gave me access, as a consultant, to thousands of organizations where, without fail, the four key factors distinguishing my great teams are embraced, demonstrated, measured, and rewarded by winning organizations, yet absent in the duds.

These factors include:

1. Commitment – Everyone feels responsible for the success of the organization because the organization is committed to them. Crafts are mastered to near perfection because the organization provides ample resources, training, preparation, practice, and incentives to meet high standards and to win as a team. Employees are involved and empowered. Without prompting, they show up early or stay late. They refer jobs to friends and relatives. They tutor others to succeed, fostering collective toughness and endurance. Posers focus on status and ego.

2. Focus and clarity – Everyone feels competent and confident in their roles and applies best practices and processes to execute. They love problem solving, being mindful and focused on the next play, or challenge, yet share a common vision and understanding of how their jobs make it possible. Posers create chaos and control with ambiguity and low standards.

3. Trust and Inter-dependency – People respect and trust each other. They value differences. They gauge themselves by their weakest member’s growth. The team swarms to help or address problems. The organization adapts itself to member strengths and talents. A deep desire exists to influence each other in a positive way with collaboration, shared accountability, and safety. Posers master false harmony and invulnerability to project and protect ego and status. Silo and turf wars abound.

4. Drive for incredible team results – With everyone allowed and able to excel with the above factors, a collective, collaborative, shared accountability and team identity galvanizes. Everyone’s a well-prepared leader who is willing to take calculated risks to achieve and drive incomparable results, like being 33-0-0. Posers are all about status and ego; parking spots, office space, titles, power, and control.


Matt Paknis is a senior management consultant with six years of college football coaching and ten years of playing experience through 5 championship seasons whose focus is on lessening bullying in the workplace. He was a former assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno and has spoken publicly about being abused as a child. Matt transcended childhood bullying and the death of his mother with teamwork and leadership. He has dedicated over twenty-five years of consulting to helping global clients embrace healthy management practices to thrive. His latest book Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies: How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations is available for purchase now.