How do people get ahead in the workplace? One way seems to be by making their subordinates miserable, according to a study released on Friday.
In the study to be presented at a conference on management this weekend, almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in an online survey said the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways.
"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe ofin .
Despite their success in the office, spiteful supervisors can cause serious malaise for their subordinates, the study suggested, citing nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion as symptoms of serving a brutal boss.
The authors advocated immediate intervention by industry chiefs to stop fledgling office authoritarians from rising up the ranks.
"As with any sort of cancer, the best alternative to prevention is early detection," they wrote.
They faulted senior managers for not recognizing the signs of workplace strife wrought by bad bosses. "The leaders above them who did nothing, who rewarded and promoted bad leaders ... represent an additional problem."
Would this hold true for educational leadership, too, I wonder? While I can claim to have seen some incompetent choices over the years, l'enfant terrible as boss has (thankfully) been a very rare occurrence. I suppose that still puts me in the majority, however, which is really rather sad. It would be interesting to learn about the qualities people had in mind when they thought of a "bad boss." The adjectives used in the article (tyrannical, brutal, spiteful) conjure up the vision of someone who is cruel, rather than simply inadequate. It seems like there needs to be some serious changes in the culture of the workplace and the values we place upon selecting leadership in order to prevent more bullies from getting to the top.