The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

32 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL ... except when you are interrupting bullying behavior. e one exception to the previous point is bullying, which needs to be interrupted publicly sometimes to reinforce the norm against that behavior. is responsibility is on everyone. ere is no precise formula for doing this. I am not suggesting we need to go around policing each other. However, I do wish that someone had jumped in when everyone was piling on at the meeting I mentioned above. While multiple people approached me privately afterward, it would have meant a lot more if someone had intervened to back me up in the moment. For the target of bullying behavior, there is no substitute for someone naming or interrupting what is happening as it unfolds. Lead from wherever you sit. I often use conversations on executive presence to point out moments where a member of the team shifted the course of a meeting with more senior colleagues (including some at the very top of the State Department) through timely, thoughtfully delivered, pitch-perfect questions, ideas, challenges, or suggestions. ose brave souls are my heroes. Can it be frightening? Absolutely. Can you prepare in advance to help ease the stress of engaging with peers or leaders you know in advance will be di cult and intimidating? Absolutely. I encourage everyone to run your points past trusted listeners, build alliances in advance of meetings, and listen for good ideas that are being lost in the ether and seek to reinforce them. Every so often, I look up and reread Secretary Blinken’s April 2022 remarks on diversity, equality, inclusion, and accountability. Doing so reinspires me to work toward the broad cultural transformation the Secretary called for in that speech. I believe we can all build workspaces of which we are proud, using whatever span of control each of us can exert. Obviously, accountability for senior leaders is a key component in addressing a culture of bullying behavior. at said, enduring change will come only from the collective e orts of a critical mass of Foreign Service, Civil Service, EFM, contractor, and locally employed sta who model and carry forward new norms of behavior into our hundreds of o ces, missions, and consulates worldwide. is is a challenge we can all embrace to change our organization for the better. n