Self-doubt and the bullying boss

The BPS Digest reports that Self-doubt turns bosses into bullies. If power corrupts it may not corrupt equally. They describe some small scale experiments from which researchers concluded:

Power holders who do not feel personally competent are more likely than those who feel competent to lash out against other people.

That makes some kind of sense to me, and reminds me of Richard Farson’s formula, that responsibility plus helplessness leads to abuse.

The researchers add this slightly depressing suggestion:

Additionally, the finding that self-worth boosts assuage the aggressive tendencies of such power holders implies the effectiveness of a strategy commonly employed by underlings: excessive flattery.

I bet we’ve all seen that strategy in action and I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past. It stores up even more trouble for the future.

1 thought on “Self-doubt and the bullying boss

  1. Chris Corrigan

    This is sad. There is so much fear and confusion in leadership and leaders who are lonely and have no one to help them do tremendous amounts of damage. My father in law penned a book about this phenomenon called “Toxic Emotions at Work” (HBR, 2002) which talked about the role of the toxin handler in organizations who help mitigate the damage done by leaders who operate in this paradigm of solitude.

    This underscores my contention that relationship is at least as important as work in any gathering.


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