Lessons in Leadership: Jerks Like To Work for Jerks

You’re bound to have a few complaints about how your boss acts, but is there one correct way to manage people?  According to a new study, the effectiveness of your boss might have as much to do with your own personality as his or hers.  Friendly employees do not work well for angry bosses. However, angry people with a less-than-friendly disposition actually thrive under stricter form of management.

Experimenters recruited 144 people whose personalities were analyzed to determine whether they were friendly or unfriendly.  All subjects were then put in work scenarios with bosses of varying personality types.  The people that weren’t friendly, didn’t care that their bosses were mean. Not only did these employees not mind the yelling and conflict, they actually performed better at tasks.  Meanwhile, friendly people shrivel and underperform if their boss in angry, and they actually perceive their workload to be higher. That’s right, friendly people had a skewed perception of their workload under harsh management, because the volatile interpersonal atmosphere was so stressful for them.

Although most people probably think they want a nice boss, this approach doesn’t appear to get the job done.  This study affirms the idea that an effective boss needs to be a leader, not a friend.  Of course, that’s not to say that a boss needs to adopt the persona of a dictator either. If you like stressful environments and don’t mind being yelled at, you may perform better under the leadership of a Type A fanatical boss. If you can’t help but be kind, you’d probably prefer a levelheaded but distant boss.

Knowing which management style you can handle will make you not only a more successful employee, but also a happier one.

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