They overreact, they’re controlling, they make threats and humiliate others… they are bullies, abrasive leaders, or workplace meanies. While they may be valuable to organizations given their ability to drive results, they also cost companies via lowered morale, increased absenteeism, and actions of retaliation.

Catherine Mattice, founder of Civility Partners, gives us insight into why abrasive people act this way and how to make them stop with a tried and true method that really works. Combatting workplace bullying and aggressive behavior in the workplace is connected to the tactic of Leading with Executive Presence.

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  1. What workplace bulling is and the 3 buckets of behavior associated with such actions
  2. Catherine’s addition to the LATTOYG Playbook: How to use the T-A-D coaching method to help diffuse bullying behavior in individuals.
  3. Catherine’s Fun Facts – Silence, wine, her house, and “eye of the tiger”

“They don’t know how they are behaving. If they did, that would make them a psychopath.”


    [03:10] Hear where Catherine thinks is one of the greatest places on earth.

    [06:05] Catherine explains what workplace bullying is and is not.

    [07:40] Learn the 3 buckets of behavior of workplace bullying.

    [20:40] Catherine’s entry into the LATTOYG leadership playbook.

    [32:20] Signature Segment: Which of the leadership tactics most resonates with Catherine

    [34:00] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

    [39:50] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


    The founder of Civility Partners, Catherine Mattice is a Strategic HR Consultant who assists organizations in building positive cultures through HR practices. Catherine is a widely recognized thought-leader, and she is passionate about employers’ responsibility to create the opportunity and environment for employees to thrive. Clients include Fortune 500’s to government to small business – she’s served almost every industry you can think of. She’s appeared on or in NPR, CNN, USA Today, Forbes, and more as an expert and is a best-selling author of three books.

    Catherine’s award-winning first book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, was hailed by international leadership-guru, Ken Blanchard, as, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She’s since written two more books, and is a LinkedIn Learning course author.



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    Click the plus button on the tab to access the written transcript:
    Episode 7 | Why Workplace Bullies Act That Way and How to Make Them Stop w/ Catherine Mattice

    Catherine Mattice  00:00

    So I’m gonna give you a generic definition: everything that harassment is–workplace bullying is that too–the only difference is who you aim it at.


    Voiceover  00:12

    Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


    Karan Rhodes  00:51

    Hey there, superstars! This is Karan, and welcome to today’s episode. Did you know that there’s a national prevalence of workplace bullying? According to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2021 survey, 30 percent of Americans have suffered abuse at work. Another 19 percent have witnessed it, 49 percent are affected by it, and 66 percent are aware that workplace bullying happens to others. They also state that an estimated 48 million Americans are bullied at work, and that employees working in remote or hybrid environments are at even higher risk than those who go into the office every day. So to help us pull back the layers of the onion on this dynamic, our guest today is Catherine Mattice, who is a subject matter expert in workplace bullying. Catherine is the founder and CEO of Civility Partners, which is an HR consulting firm focused on specifically helping companies root out toxic behaviors, and create respectful and positive workplace cultures. Be sure to listen to her addition to our leadership execution playbook and my closing segment called “Karan’s Take”, where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show. Well, good afternoon, Catherine and welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast. Are you ready to open up that playbook of yours that has knowledge and information for our listeners?


    Catherine Mattice  02:27

    Of course, of course! Thanks for having me!


    Karan Rhodes  02:30

    I’m so… we’re so happy that you were able to find a bit of time to share a few nuggets, and I’m super excited to talk about our topic today because it is so prevalent, especially in the corporate worlds. But I would venture to say at all employers no matter what industry or type, workplace bullying is real, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. And I’m so excited for us to be able to, you know, share with the listeners tips and things to think about as we strive to reduce workplace bullying. But before we get started and get down to business, I’d love for you to share with listeners just a little bit about your personal and professional life thus far.


    Catherine Mattice  03:16

    Yeah, sure. Well, they’re intertwined. So I was the Director of Human Resources for an organization where one other director was a bully, I would say. He was engaging in some toxic behavior, and as a director of HR, I was dealing with all of the problems that he created for the organization. And then also, you know, felt bullied, so I was experiencing this behavior as a target so I understand both sides of the coin there on the bullying. I ended up getting my master’s degree while I was working there, and I did all of my graduate research on the topic of workplace bullying from my very first class up into my thesis. And so, I kind of joke, I have a master’s degree in workplace bullying, and I started my business from there. I wrote a a book pretty quickly right after grad school. So I had all this stuff rolling around in there that I felt compelled to put on… on paper, and here we are. So that’s been my journey so far.


    Karan Rhodes  04:16

    Wow. Well, congratulations on the book! And I’m… I’m sure you learned so much and your research and then putting it… all that together, and I’m just really curious what part of the world that you are living in right now.


    Catherine Mattice  04:31

    Yeah, I live in San Diego, California, one of the greatest places on earth, and I have to give a plug. There’s actually, if you can believe it, such a thing as the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment, which is where the people who are nerd about… nerding out about harassment and bullying and how to solve it, that’s where we go. Once… somewhere in the world, every few years, there’s a conference and we go and it’s academics, researching it, it’s practitioners like me. Anyway, I’m the Conference Chair this year, and it’s in San Diego so that should be fun. It’s in… on September 20, I think is, when it is but it’s… I’m excited to bring all of these colleagues to my neck of the woods.


    Karan Rhodes  05:14

    Amaz… that is something I did not know–that there was actually a conference on that–so listeners will definitely need to check that out. And… and it gets it says a, I hate to say it, but an epidemic in the workplace that actually really, truly needs to be addressed.


    Catherine Mattice  05:31



    Karan Rhodes  05:32

    So, uhm, Catherine, I’d love for you to start off by sharing a little bit about your thoughts and some of your lessons that you had learned through your research on workplace bullying. I know I had done a little prep for our time today and I was amazed to find out that over fifty million people in America alone have experienced some sort of workplace bullying. So why don’t we start out by you just telling us a little bit more about what workplace bullying is and it’s not maybe? And, then, some of the data or… or learnings that you found out out of your research? 


    Catherine Mattice  06:12

    Yeah. Well, I’ve also been in business since 2009 so I got plenty to share from my life as a consultant. Yeah, so I would say bullying is not conflict, right? Conflict is two people who don’t get along for whatever reason, but the key there is that they both feel that they have a voice. And, in bullying, we compare that more often to something like domestic violence or abuse where one person is being squashed out and there is a very clear psychological power imbalance between the two. So that does not exist in in conflict. I can give you three… well, I’m gonna give you a generic definition: everything that harassment is–workplace bullying is that too–the only difference is who you aim it at. So, according to federal law in here in the States, you know, harassment is behavior that’s aimed at a protected characteristic, and it feels like a condition of employment, or it’s so severe, pervasive, you know, it feels intimidating and hostile. All of that describes bullying except the protected characteristics. So I often joke, if you feel the need to bully, just bully everyone, and then you’re, that’s legally acceptable. And so then there are three kind of buckets or categories of behavior that any bullying behavior you can possibly think of falls into one of these three buckets. The first is aggressive communication, which is stuff that we can all see, right? If I’m leaning over my death, or getting in your space, or have aggressive body language, or sending aggressive emails, that… that’s that version. The second bucket is humiliation. So pointing out mistakes in public, jokes made at your expense, you know, that are leaving you embarrassed, leaving someone out of happy hours or lunches. So, leaving people feeling isolated and humiliated. And, then, the third is manipulation. So giving someone so much work they can’t possibly completed in time, you know. If I say this is due by five, and here, it’s two o’clock in San Diego, and it’s a three day project. And I’m telling you, it needs to be done by five, you’re gonna be here all night working, and you’re never going to be successful. Or taking key responsibilities away so that you’re kind of left going, “Well, what’s my job, then, if I’m not doing that key responsibility?” So, using work to manipulate. So, those are the three buckets.


    Karan Rhodes  08:50

    Interesting, interesting. And, as you know, our podcast is targeted at leaders of all types, of all career stages, but those who generally trying to motivate others to action, or leading various initiatives and what have you, and it seems that those that are in the leadership space are frequently the ones who are the bullies. Am I correct or no? Or can it be peer… other peers?


    Catherine Mattice  09:21

    Yeah, most of the time, it is a superior bullying someone beneath them, but it certainly can be peer-to-peer and also can be subordinate up to a superior. But the… the fact that the superior has the natural power imbalance due to hierarchy lends itself to bullying more often being that.


    Karan Rhodes  09:43

    Interesting. And have you found that bullying occurs more when individuals are under pressure? Or is it due to personality conflicts that they… person that they are working with, they don’t have the same type of values or priorities? Any insights on that? On that certain area?


    Catherine Mattice  10:07

    Lots of insight. So, I have two versions of my answer. One is related to the organization. So, you know, any leader listening, you have to recognize that if this behavior is happening in your workplace, it’s happening in the context of culture that you’ve set up, whether intentionally or not. And so yes, there are several sort of organizational risk factors that would allow the bullying to thrive or sort of encourage it to occur. So, some of those things are ambiguity. So, ambiguous roles and responsibilities when we are under stress and that could be due to change or COVID, or, you know, a new team member coming on. So, when… the more stressed out we are, the more burned out we are, and the less we monitor ourselves when we’re interacting, and so that’s why that’s a factor. So… So there’s lots of organizational reasons. In terms of the person bullying themselves, I specialize in executive coaching for leaders who bully and what I’ve discovered is that they are super focused on success of the organization and their teams, and ironically, that shows up in bullying because they’re so focused on success of the goals and the money or the project. They’ve forgotten the human part of success. And they’re often, when I coach them, pretty shocked at how people describe them and the damage they’ve been causing. So, you know, they’re… and then they’re, of course, lacking social and emotional intelligence. So…


    Karan Rhodes  11:51

    Are they… That is so fascinating! Are they… Did they consider them… Uhm, this might… I might be answering my own question. But, do they consider themselves as having bullying behavior once you describe what bullied… bullying behavior is? Or are they aware that they have been acting as bullies in the workplace?


    Catherine Mattice  12:15

    No. So… And I don’t… I don’t ever use the word bullying with my coaching clients. So, the… you… normally what’s happened is that because they’re focused on success, they’re really good performers, right? They’re often seen as very valuable and so the organization has not been addressing their behavior. So, no, they don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because why would they? Nobody’s been telling them there’s anything wrong with it until, finally, some… usually, there’s some sort of catalyst where the leadership finally goes, “Ugh, you can’t act that way.”


    Karan Rhodes  12:48

    Right? Gotta get it out!


    Catherine Mattice  12:51

    And then, actually, they’re often hurt where it’s like, “Why haven’t you… Why have you been allowing me to act this way? Why haven’t you been telling me not to?” kind of a thing. And then, what I do is interview everyone who works with them. So, I interview around fifteen people, and then, it’s just kind of like, “Let’s figure out why… what we need to be focused on in coaching.” And then, it’s through that process of giving them that feedback from the interviews is when you know… So, I never say people describe you as a bully. It’s… it’s all in the feedback. So, there’ll be a theme, of course, around let’s say publicly shaming people. And so, now, it’s not me trying to relay that to them. It’s “Look, I interviewed fifteen people and all fifteen of them said that.” So, it’s, you know, you can’t argue that or deny it at that point because it’s fifteen to one, essentially.


    Karan Rhodes  13:41

    Right, overpowering like the numbers overpower what they think in their minds, right? Versus what other people have witnessed as far as the behavior. So, how can organizations best like empathize with these individuals, because obviously, as you’ve pointed out, they’re very valuable to the organization in respect to getting work done, or seeing results or hitting the bottom line or having a lot of intellectual capital and knowledge about the organization? How can organizations really empathize with these individuals and help encourage a turnaround?


    Catherine Mattice  14:23

    Well, so first, I would say from the beginning, every time that I coach someone, it’s because they haven’t been given the tools and the resources. So, for example, I had a coaching call right before this and we’re just starting out; that was our first coaching call. And you know, he’s in a fast growing organization. The CEO is a business owner who owns many businesses, and kind of like pulled this guy up out of the lower ranks and over time as they grew, this person grew into being essentially the CEO of… of this particular business that the real CEO owns. He’s never been given any management or leadership tools; he’s just figuring it out as he goes, and that caused him a lot of stress. So, I want to say, you know, to all the leaders out there, you’ve… you’ve got to give people the tools and resources, because none of us are born with leadership or management in our blood. So, you know, this poor guy has been giving feedback in a not great way because he’s stressed and he’s frustrated, and he feels like “I did it, why can’t you?” and we probably would all feel that way, right? So, now, we’ve got to pull him back and reset, and well, let’s give feedback differently. Um, so I just want to put that out there. In terms of empathy, you know, recognizing they’re not evil, they don’t… they just don’t know that this is how they’re behaving. If they did know, then, that would make them a psychopath, right? And most people are not psychopaths. So, it… when I take on a coaching client, the… I have a coaching session with the CEO first to talk to the CEO about how to present coaching, and the way it should be presented is, essentially, “I’ve made a mistake of allowing you to act this way and not calling you out and that’s my bad but we’re at a point where you cannot act that way anymore. And I’m going to give you a resource to make sure you can change.” And I do actually require a consequence, because I need this person to know that there is a line being drawn here. It’s not just do some leadership stuff, and then you’ll be back to how you were. But, yeah, so I am presented more as kind of a gift of… and the CEO has to own that they’ve allowed it. And so it’s, you know, it’s not “You’re a bad person, and you have to change.” It’s “We’ve made some mistakes here, you and I (CEO and person bullying) and we’re going to fix them.”


    Karan Rhodes  16:51

    I love that double accountability that you require on your client engagements because that means, you know, they’re both are, hopefully, both bought in to making the course correction and, hopefully, the person who has been bullying is not feeling not valued at all. It’s just like corrections and tweaks in the behavior to be even more successful in the future.


    Catherine Mattice  17:17

    Yeah, exactly. Exactly.


    Karan Rhodes  17:19

    All right, Miss Catherine, I’m going to ask you to do a little deep digging here and peeling back the layers of the onion. Can you give us a couple of ideas… just a couple examples of tools that you use. You mentioned a few tools, but either tools or advice that are common in your practice to help these leaders build up their muscles in this area.


    Catherine Mattice  17:47

    You know, I find myself often telling my coaching clients that they’re not competence crusaders. Our job is to educate. They get really focused on the numbers and the goals and everything they’re trying to accomplish and have been asked to do by their own leader, and that shows up in this like “You’ve made a mistake and the world’s ending.” or “You didn’t do it the way I thought it should be done and the world is ending.” And so, helping them really recognize that, “Hey, everybody thinks you’re good at your job because of where you are. Look, you’re the EVP or the VP or director, and so, you don’t need to focus so much on, you know, if we lose, then my world is ending. You have to pull back on from that a little bit because it’s hurting your ability to lead.” And then, yeah, it’s about… a lot of it’s really helping them learn how to educate the people around them, how to be a coach themselves, how to… if someone makes a mistake, not get after them, but to say, “Well, can we talk about what happened and what we could have done differently?” And so, it’s… it’s giving them typical sort of leadership tools that all leadership coaches give, but I’m kind of coming at it from this other angle. And so, for me, it’s really having empathy for them. And one thing I found, too, is they’ve all been fighting for something their whole lives. They’re… You know, I coached a woman from China who came here and didn’t speak English and she grew up in you know, horrible time in China. And I was gonna make a political comment, I’m glad I stopped myself. But, uhm, you know, her dad was arrested for terrorism even though he was just an engineer. And so, they didn’t have money and she was the fifth child and she was a daughter so she literally grew up eating the crumbs of her siblings because she was the youngest and she was a girl. She came here not speaking English, and now, she’s got a PhD and she runs the quality control of a large pharmaceutical company, you know. And so it’s stories like that where I… my goal is often just to say, “Look, you fought your whole life to get here, and you’re good. Now, you’re good. Take a breath, and lead. Help… let other people learn from you at this point, because you’ve got so much to offer.” So it’s… it’s a cool experience.


    Karan Rhodes  20:17

    It sounds like a… that was a fantastic example and story. I’m curious, do you ever… Is there ever an activity or a challenge that you give to your coaching clients to try to help them to become more sensitive and aware of their working environment in the staff that they lead?


    Catherine Mattice  20:40

    Yeah, yeah. So my coaching is really based on the… what we call the TAD dynamic, which is “Threat, Anxiety, Defense.” So, what we talk about is “You are causing anxiety in people and they defend themselves by avoiding you. They’re fleeing, right? And, they’re causing you anxiety. They make a mistake, and you defend yourself by fighting, and so, you’re all engaged in these very instinctual behaviors and as the leader, you’ve got to stop having people engage in instinctual… instinct and same to you” So often, when they’re like… if at the beginning of a session, I’ll say, you know, “Tell me what’s been going on lately?” And they’ll say, “Oh, you know, I had a meeting asking for ideas, and nobody did anything. Nobody had any ideas.” And I’ll say, “Well, is that fight or flight?” That’s flight; they’re not speaking. “Okay, what are they anxious about?” So, we work backwards. So, if somebody is engaging in fight or flight, it means they’re anxious. That’s… that’s why they’re doing it. So, why? And then, we talk through, you know, is it that they just didn’t knowa And they’re stupid and they’re lazy? Or is it that they didn’t… they were afraid of your response? Or is it that they didn’t have time? Or is it that you asked them to do something completely out of the realm of their, you know, their knowledge? So it becomes about like, wreck… really observing. So that’s the homework, everytime we coach is observe and how do you see fight or flight showing up. And then, start trying to figure out what are they anxious about? If you see fight or flight, that means they’re anxious, and then, your job becomes reducing anxiety in them and in yourself. So, observation is the big one. Sometimes, I’ll have them watch a movie, and write down, you know, body language and things they see in the movie, because they’re, you know, they’re lacking that social, emotional intelligence to pick up on things. So, when you know, I’ll tell them pick a scene in a movie and, then, pick through it, you know. How are they standing? Was one facing the other way? It’s… And let’s really try to understand what the body language is in that movie. And then, trying to transfer that into, you know, observing real people in your work life.


    Karan Rhodes  22:58

    I love that exercise because they get to practice that observation in a safe space with, maybe, something fun that they’d like to watch and, then, have a great conversation with you afterwards. And it probably opens up some of the brain synapses, if you will, to make them more aware as a lead… you know, meetings or have interactions with others in the workplace.


    Catherine Mattice  23:22

    Yeah, it’s always fun that the first coaching meeting, the homework assignment is always to do the observing people fighting or fleeing and it’s neat when they come back, “Oh, I noticed that, you know, somebody took a tone, and another person had their arms crossed, and so, they’re fleeing, right? They’re fleeing or blocking.” And so, they have some really great examples of say, “Oh, I noticed it in my kids at home or whatever,” you know. So it’s… it’s fun to help them observe and learn to observe.


    Karan Rhodes  23:52

    Very cool. I don’t know if you came across this but I read a statistic that said, “Women leaders bully other women more than the men on their staff.” Have you heard that before?


    Catherine Mattice  24:10

    Yeah, I’ve read that in the research. Yes.


    Karan Rhodes  24:13

    I wonder why? Because it seems like we would, as women, would bond together and try to help each other out. I don’t know if it’s the… (unintelligible) taking out frustrations and it’s easier on a woman than a man. I mean (unintelligible).


    Catherine Mattice  24:26

    Right? I have an answer related to instinct that you may not want to hear, but I’m going to say it.


    Karan Rhodes  24:33

    No, no! Please do.


    Catherine Mattice  24:36

    Because our human behavior is rooted in instinct, we can say that it’s not because we can talk and feel and be on a computer for goodness sake, what are we doing, you know, compared to the rest of the animal kingdom but, in the end, we still function from instinct. I think it has to do with, you know, just from the basic instinctual place that we are, women have children.


    Karan Rhodes  25:04

    It’s women compared to men? I gotcha.


    Catherine Mattice  25:06

    Yeah, women have children, right? And so, there’s an instinctual, super deep-in-our-conscious, we’ll-never-access, I think, feeling of threat, you know, that I’m trying to have children and so are you. And again, I recognize this as the most unfeminist thing for me to say, and obviously, we’ve worked way past that because I’m not here just to have children and neither you. We both have business (unintelligible) but that… that’s where it comes from. It’s that women feel threatened by other women because of our instinct. And so, I do… I think… Well, I mean, I’m sure in your end, some too like the… the women groups that we joined, there’s always this very open, overt conversation that, “Hey, we should be supporting each other. Let this women support each other.” I went to a networking event the other day and got an email from one of the women. It was to a bunch of other women, “Hey, as women, we should come together and workshop out everything we just learned, you know, no men were invited.” And I think that’s a sign of that of like, “I have to consciously remind myself that women should be supporting each other not fighting.” So, that’s my, I’m a huge feminist.


    Karan Rhodes  26:19

    I am too, but I do understand that—the instinct. I was, you know, psychologist by education so I do understand the tendencies, especially, like you said, probably deep down back in like this… like cavemen days, right, of our natural instincts. And… and we do try to adapt our behavior as much as we can for our current situations, but a lot of it’s deep rooted into our roles and society so I totally understand that.


    Catherine Mattice  26:53

    Yeah, and that’s why the fight or flight conversation is fun with my coaching clients, too. It’s like… I mean even on this podcast, you know, we’re… we’re not consciously thinking “I’m nervous” and I’m, you know, I’m not anxious, obviously and you’re not either. However, we both desire to make this a good podcast so there’s some level of anxiety around… around it, whether we can feel it or not. And, therefore, we’re fighting right now. You’re doing the best you can do to interview me, and I’m doing the best I can do to think through my answers and try to be my best self right now. And so, I think we’re always engaging in fight or flight however subtle it is. And I encourage all the listeners to… to engage in that homework. Just start watching for fight or flight, and you will see it everywhere in everyone.


    Karan Rhodes  27:48

    (unintelligible) I will even share a quick example for me, I’m… in thinking about situations in the workforce where I felt bullied. There weren’t a lot, to be honest with you. I… Maybe there were more and I was just so knowledgeable and not caring because I try to be a very (unintelligible) person. Maybe they’re trying to just (unintelligible) over my head but I do remember one in particular at the beginning of my career. There was a lady who was older; she was pushing retirement, and I was right out of MBA school, right? And I still… the only… I remember her to this day pulling me aside in private and saying, “You know, you will never pass me as far as promotions or title wise or what have you so it would behoove you to always keep me on your side.” And I think I was just more pissed off and probably, so early in my career, I didn’t… I knew it was an insult. I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it but, you know, here I am, you know, forty years later, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. And, you know, not to toot my own horn but I’ve way surpassed. Exactly, (unintelligible) so evil! You know, bad Karan, bad Karan (unintelligible) but, you know, I still do… still do remember the hurt, the surprise, the anger, and the building of my own, I guess, gumption to be there… prove her wrong in some way, shape, or form. And, you know, I lost track of her a long, long time ago when I left the company but you know it’s workplace bullying or even individual bullying has a significant impact on, you know, individuals for… on their psyche for years and years to come and the more… more that we can do to reduce that and promote the type of work that you do with leaders, and… and with your clients to help reduce that in the workplace will definitely reduce the trauma, or the subjects of the bullying, in my opinion.


    Catherine Mattice  29:24

    Yeah, so there! Yes, yes. And that’s one of the things that’s fun about it, too, when we re-interview people after the coaching, people do sometimes say, “Thank you, my life is better now that that person’s not so scary.”


    Karan Rhodes  30:44

    Exactly! So, I’m curious, Catherine, in your opinion, what do you think it takes to for someone to lead at the top of their game or be at the top of the game… their game in their profession or in the workplace?


    Catherine Mattice  31:01

    I think if we’re just coming out of the context of our bullying conversation, who those…


    Karan Rhodes  31:07

    (unintelligible) any conversation. I mean any concept.


    Catherine Mattice  31:09

    Yeah, people are focused on success and being seen as the most competent person in the history of the world, and I would say the opposite is required to be a good leader. I don’t know anything; I don’t pretend to know anything. I always ask my team, rarely do I make any sort of big decision without input. And so I… I… not that I’m the perfect leader, of course, but I, you know, I obviously lead in the ways that I’m trying to get these other people to lead. And so, I think, just thinking about some of the things that I do, that’s… that’s one. I’m super humble and open to say, I don’t… I don’t know, what do you think? You know, and also surrounding yourself with people who do know and who can give you good advice and who you trust is important. And it’s okay to fail or make a mistake, and figure it out and pick yourself up and keep going.


    Karan Rhodes  32:09

    Absolutely. Well, just a couple more questions for you if your game.


    Catherine Mattice  32:15

    Yeah, let’s do it!


    Karan Rhodes  32:16

    So, I’d love to tie some of your thoughts into the research that I’ve done in my book “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” and I had shared with you this, you know, seven tactics that the research really showed that the most successful leaders mastered. And I was wondering if there was one or two that kind of resonated with you?


    Catherine Mattice  32:42

    Yes, I think leading with executive presence is important but I don’t think executive presence is the old 90s, remember, in the 90s, all the movies that really celebrated horrible leaders and bosses, you know? I think Demi Moore was in half of them.


    Karan Rhodes  32:59

    Yes, yes!


    Catherine Mattice  33:01

    Executive presence is about, I think, following your gut, sticking to your values. And so, I think that’s important and it’s about exuding confidence because you have confidence, not because you’re trying to prove something. So, that’s… that’s for sure one. And then, I think if I come across every time I coach, you know, the leader, the CEO, for example, has been aware of this really bad behavior for a long time and not addressing it. And so, your courageous agility comes through for me on that is, like, stick to your convictions about how people should behave and if you wouldn’t want your daughter or child or son or partner or grandma working with that person, then, they don’t… they shouldn’t be acting that way, right? So, being courageous enough to say, “I gotta call you out, and if you up and quit, so that you can go bully somewhere else then so be it.” By the way, that never happens.


    Karan Rhodes  34:05

    It doesn’t, does it? It doesn’t. All right. Well, our last segment is called “Full Disclosure” and I promise you, there’s no gotcha questions, but I always love to have a few of these listeners get to know just a little bit more about you and be very curious about, you know, reaching out to even for your assistance. So my first question for you is, how do you like to decompress after a long day?


    Catherine Mattice  34:34

    I need quiet and silence. So, I am an introvert at heart so I like to decompress, maybe in my room just kind of laying on my bed. I joke “Laying in your bed is an activity.” I think a lot of people see it as lazy. It’s an activity I have to pencil into my calendar. So, that is one way. I also feel very lucky to live in the house that I live. It’s got a beautiful yard which is rare in San Diego, all the houses are so close together. So, I love to sit out, have a glass of wine with my feet up on the table, you know, looking out into my beautiful yard and just recognizing I’ve worked really hard to own that house. So, that’s another way I like.


    Karan Rhodes  35:18

    Love that. Well, also tell me one song that would be on your playlist.


    Catherine Mattice  35:29

    Oh, that’s easy. Before I do webinars, I like to listen to “Eye of the Tiger”.


    Karan Rhodes  35:33

    Oh my gosh! Well, you know, as a former Microsoft (unintelligible) that was one of (unintelligible) favorite so I think I know almost every word to the song as he played it so much back in the day.


    Catherine Mattice  35:47

    (unintelligible) right before my webinars. Everybody, get into it.


    Karan Rhodes  35:50

    My… my song before I do webinars is “What Have You Done Today To Make Yourself Proud?” It was actually famous on the show “The Biggest Loser” when they were all losing weight but for some reason that really motivates me to build up the… try to be my best, you know, with… in front of an audience. I actually have a whole long list of songs, but that’s the one that, you know, really pops out.


    Catherine Mattice  36:20

    Yeah, yeah.


    Karan Rhodes  36:22

    And what is one of your biggest pet peeves?


    Catherine Mattice  36:26

    Ooh, I don’t know. Can I bring my children into this? When I have to ask…


    Karan Rhodes  36:31



    Catherine Mattice  36:32

    When I have to ask my eight year old over and over to do something and she doesn’t respond at all so I have no idea if she’s heard me or not and then, she’ll finally respond after my tenth time, “I know!” If you would have said yes after the first time, I wouldn’t have kept saying it. That is a huge pet peeve for me.


    Karan Rhodes  36:54

    I love that, I love that. And because you have been such a great sport, now, we’re going to turn the tables, I’ll give you one question that you could ask me.


    Catherine Mattice  37:06

    Hmm, out of your seven leadership tactics, which one most deeply resonates with you? Can you pick one?


    Karan Rhodes  37:16

    Oh, of course, I love all seven, but absolutely I love leading with intrapreneurship. I am an ideas gal who sees in a world of possibilities. I’m also very good about pulling the world of possibilities back and shrinking them a bit to decide which ones are the most possible but finding new ways to improve, you know, a service or a process or, you know, helping open up people’s ideas of what could be done. I’d live and breathe that all day every day.


    Catherine Mattice  37:56

    Oh, I see. Love it!


    Karan Rhodes  38:01

    All right. Well, thank you so much for this wonderful podcast. I literally blanked and we’re at the end of time, I cannot believe it but there’s such great nuggets that you have shared. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of listeners that will want to get in touch with you so would you like to share your website again? We’ll have it in the show notes but I’d love to capture it on the podcast as well.


    Catherine Mattice  38:22

    Sure, it’s And, you know, I’m thinking for all the leaders, we have an article somewhere on the worldwide web about 13 or 14 ways to know if you are considered a bully by the people around you. I have to see if I can locate it. For a long time, it was my number one LinkedIn post for… for a couple years even so, I’ll have to locate that. But, Civility Partners, I’m on LinkedIn. I’ve got LinkedIn learning courses, too, if you subscribe to LinkedIn Learning and, you know, Google me, send me a fax, whatever.


    Karan Rhodes  39:01

    Just find you, right?


    Catherine Mattice  39:03

    I’m here.


    Karan Rhodes  39:04

    You’re there. All right, well, thanks again for the gift of your time and sharing of some fantastic nuggets of information with our audience. We will share all your information including the link to your book and everything in the show notes but do you have a wonderful time and continue to enjoy that house of yours.


    Catherine Mattice  39:23

    Thank you, thank you!


    Karan Rhodes  39:26

    All right, bye bye!


    Catherine Mattice  39:27



    Karan Rhodes  39:31

    I hope you enjoyed our conversation with Catherine Mattice, founder and CEO of Civility Partners. Links to her bio, her entry into our leadership playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes both on your favorite podcast platform of choice and at Now, for “Karan’s Take” on today’s topic of workplace bullying. So today I wanted to share a few tips on how you can deal with a workplace bully. The first thing you should do is speak up early. Ignoring bullying behavior gives permission for that person to continue it. Try your best to muster up the courage to take the first window of opportunity to nip things in the bud and you can do this by calling attention to the behavior and share why it’s a problem. For example, you can say something like this, “Hey, Joe, I know that you really care about everyone feeling valued on the team but when you constantly ignore us on the Zoom call, it really undermines that intention. And when you ignore us, it makes it hard for us to foster a really tight team environment. And I’d like to ask that you treat all of us remote employees with the same level of respect of those in person. And, you know, I’m gonna do the same because we’re all in this together.” So the key thing to remember, it’s all about your approach and tact, but actually request the change in behavior. Then, make sure you document the abuse via a private worker. Keep a journal of the who, what, when, where, and why of how things happened. Specifically, make sure you make a note of the date and time who was treating you badly. Document exactly what they’re doing or saying, where it happens, who else was there if there was anyone though to witness it, and how it all made you feel. Check your workplace bullying policy and if you do decide to report the bully to HR or to someone else in power, you want to, you know, really be able to give concrete examples of the behaviors you’re describing. And also be sure to email the document to yourself so that you have a valid time and date stamp. And if you tried everything, but then the bullying still won’t stop. It’s probably time to bring the big guns and report the abuse to someone outside of work. For instance, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney to better understand your rent. Well, if you enjoyed this topic today, more info on developing stronger leadership acumen can be found by clicking on the signature program link on our website: Thanks for listening and see you next week!


    Voiceover  42:42

    And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you leave your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now.

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