Why you don’t get ahead by being a jerk at work

Sure, being assertive and developing thick skin can serve you well, but adopting a mindset where you are just for yourself, it turns out, can be good for nothing.

According to a study published on Monday in the journal, people who are hostile, deceptive and manipulative for their own benefit, ignoring the concerns and well-being of others, cannot gain any greater power in the workplace. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study notes that when people start their careers they are aggressive, scheming, and selfish, more likely to become powerful than agreeable people, “long before philosophers, scholars and ordinary people alike Have given.” Yet prior research had not given us a definitive answer until now.

“Many people believe that good people end up being the last,” said study lead author Cameron Anderson, a professor of organizational behavior at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers found that the culturally persistent myth has blinded us to the reality that there are, in fact, those in power who have made it to the top without stepping on their desk neighbors.

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Anderson said, “When we are introduced to someone in power who is a jerk … it sticks out for us. It’s awesome.” “And I think we look at the people (people) that we are more than the people in power who are good – those people have different kinds of mixtures in the background. Examples of people in power who just Terrible humans are, they are more available in people’s minds. ”

How this perception occurs and affects people’s attitudes to their careers is a phenomenon that Anderson plans to study further, he said.

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Researchers conducted two longitudinal studies in which they measured the personality traits of American college students before entering the workforce and then gained power within their workplaces by 2018, approximately 14 years later.

Participants noted their power, control over their subordinates and rank in their company’s hierarchy, three factors that were combined into an overall power score. The research subjects evaluated the competence and size of their company and included how long they worked.

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Those who were more sociable, energetic, and outspoken (extroverted) in their college years gained high power after years in the workplace, while those who were more selfish, belligerent, and deceitful did not have much euphoria for power – sex. , Regardless of age, ethnicity, degree program, work culture, industry and college grade point average.

“It just seemed that no matter what kind you were,” Anderson said, this kind of bad behavior, bullying, behaving in a selfish manner does not help you. “

The findings of the second study, which considered input from colleagues, were similar.

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Those who disagreed were more likely to dominate and be aggressive, but less communal towards allies. Extrovert people dominated and behaved aggressively, but they were also able to be lenient to their allies; Contribute and work hard; And push and support support for their ideas.

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“Our findings suggest that if people who had disagreements were good and perhaps more communal with their allies, they might have set foot in the competition for power,” Anderson said.

Anderson said bad relationships could threaten power because “everyone needs allies to be powerful.” “Very few people can have power and do not have a strong set of coalitions and a strong network. … and therefore for those who disagree, that the erosion of their alliances is a killer.”

Amy Cooper Hakeem said, “We’ve all heard the stories of a calm, humble person who has come forward to bully to do great work for a team or organization. A calm, level-headed person to solve the problem The approach promotes trust and horse-trading. ” , An industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and co-author of “Working with Difficult People: Handling Ten Types of Problems without Losing Your Mind”, via email.

“Movies and television show that the person in power promotes the character of a ‘bad boss’ rather than a transformational leader,” said Cooper, who was not involved in the study and Cooper Strategic Was the founder of the group, a management consulting service. “While they can work, the atmosphere is hostile and promotes insecurity.”

Good news for good guys and girls

The bad news from this study is that being a jerk does not kill your chances of gaining power, because organizations employ people with disagreements in powerful positions just as much as they do agreeing individuals.

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“The reason for this is that there is such a problem (because) there is a ton of research into the situation of people who disagree people once, and it’s all bad,” Anderson said. “There is a thorough grocery list of studies, which shows how toxic those leaders, departments or organizations can be.”

The good news is that even being a jerk does not give you an advantage in your career. “If you try to bring change and so you’re trying to get influence and power, you don’t have to play dirty,” Anderson said. “It just doesn’t help.”

It is also good to know that behaving in ways that others think of you can benefit your relationships and in this way can become your strength in the workplace. “If you are very generous, behaving with assertiveness – where you too are looking out for yourself and you are pushing to get things done – it’s a combo of magic,” he said.

Cooper Hakeem said that those who understand their strengths and opportunities make the best leaders. And by focusing on people, leaders can get the job done using the strengths of each member of the team.

So pay attention: Even if the time we live in is particularly challenging, you don’t have to play dirty to be the leader of the pack.