The nasty boss

We do hear of bosses who go out of their way to make someone’s life miserable: to be cruel and abusive in the workplace.

That level of behaviour is, thankfully, rare at work. Our experience is that most managers improve their behaviour a lot when that becomes the new formula for their success, and the majority of those genuinely want to be nicer people. Managers are arseholes because they think that’s the job, and most of their bosses encourage that view. It becomes particularly bad when the cognitive capture normalises abusive behaviour, when the culture becomes toxic. People are trapped in social norms. Managers are victims of the same system. Most resort to bullying behaviour out of desperation. Unreasonable systems make unreasonable people.

Showing them that you make more money by being nice is a revelation.

Psychopathy is over-represented in management only when the system selects for it. And most psychopaths are not mentally ill, they don’t indulge in cruelty for its own sake. They do whatever they need to in order to thrive, including being nice. They’re high functioning.

I’m more concerned about dysfunctional psychopaths in politics than in management. Many government policies are clearly deliberately cruel.