Don’t think that just because your boss is an irritable, short tempered bully that this is how you have to behave to get on. It may appear that such behaviour is rewarded but new research says nice guys are just as likely to succeed.
Researchers at Berkeley University Business school carried out personality tests amongst business students over a 9 year period then followed up on average 14 years later to see if personality traits made a difference in climbing the corporate career ladder . Crucially they also interviewed their work colleagues confirming as might be expected the individuals personality had not changed from the original test.
To the surprise of those who have experienced disagreeable colleagues advancing ahead of them and to the disbelief of every one who has experience a bullying boss the research found Nice people reach positions of power just as much as Nasty people.
It might seem common sense that disagreeable people would have the advantage in businesses that were more cut throat and competitive where everyone is looking out for him or her self. But the research did not find this. Instead being nasty didn’t help any one in any setting. While nasty people were more aggressive which could help them climb the corporate ladder their behaviour tended to alienate colleagues and so cancel out any benefits.
I have certainly experienced working for both Mr Nasty and Mr Nice ( this is not a gender thing it can just as easily be Ms Nasty and Ms Nice). Mr Nasty was a bully and rather proud of his reputation as , “ a bit of a bastard” mistakenly thinking this proved he was a strong leader and probably wouldn’t have minded being told staff feared him rather than respected him.
Mr Nice was supportive and encouraging and found it genuinely difficult to believe than anyone wouldn’t want to work for /with him. You won’t be surprised to learn that Mr Nasty caused more work for HR but both ended up in top jobs, supporting the reach findings.
The Mr Nasties of the world of work won’t change but at least the Mr Nices know they don’t have to either.