“Puppet Master” Bullying
In these situations, a chief aggressor’s power and influence over a group of subordinates may be sufficient to enlist their participation in mistreating a target, creating what looks and feels like a mob. For example, if the aggressor is a mid-level manager, they may recruit HR to help out with the dirty work and encourage the target’s peers to shun or bully.
In cases of peer bullying, one aggressor can use intimidation, belittling, persuasion and manipulation to turn others against a peer-level target. Someone with low self esteem can easily first be the target of bullying, then in the want to feel included is more than happy to follow the main aggressor to bully/team up against others in order to no longer be the target.
Puppet Master Bullies are clever, and can use their puppets by empowering them to bully others leaving the main bully/aggressor out of the main spotlight. This happens all too often and when the bullying is actioned by a higher power the main aggressor, seeing they used their puppets to do their work for them is ok and out of danger of prosecution. Their manipulated puppets however, go down in flames.
One of the key indicators of puppet master bullying, all too infrequently realized, is what happens when the master is removed from the scene. Typically, much of the malicious energy that fueled the puppets originally fades away, and so with it much of the bullying behavior.