Toxic bosses are bad for your health and bad for your reputation

People who work for bosses who display psychopathic and narcissistic traits not only feel more depressed due to their bosses bullying behaviour they are also more likely to engage in undesirable behaviours at work.

These are the key findings of a research team from the University of Manchester's Business School. Lead researcher Abigail Phillips will present the findings today, Friday 6 January, at the British Psychological Society's annual conference of the Division of Occupational Psychology in Liverpool.

A total of 1,200 participants took part in three studies that required them to complete questionnaires relating to their own psychological wellbeing, prevalence of in their organisation and their manager's personality. The samples consisted of workers from a variety of industries across a number of different countries.

Analysis of the data showed that those who work for leaders who display these traits had lower job satisfaction and scored higher on a clinical measure of depression. Also not only did employees' wellbeing suffer but incidents of counterproductive work behaviour and workplace bullying were higher.

Ms. Phillips said: "Overall the picture is clear leaders high in dark traits can be bad news for organisations. Those high in psychopathy and narcissism have a strong desire for power and often lack empathy. This toxic combination can result in these individuals taking advantage of others, taking credit for their work, being overly critical, and generally behaving aggressively. In other words, leaders high in psychopathy and narcissism are more likely to be bullies."

"Workplace bullying is obviously unpleasant for the target but also creates a toxic working environment for all involved. In short, bad bosses, those high in psychopathy and narcissism, have unhappy and dissatisfied employees who seek to 'get their own back' on the company."

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Provided by British Psychological Society
Citation: Toxic bosses are bad for your health and bad for your reputation (2017, January 6) retrieved 22 October 2019 from
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Jan 14, 2017
IOW, do not work for narcissists with ego problems. When can that come up?

Jan 14, 2017
Does this also work the same on the citizens for psychopathic and narcissistic presidents (un-legitimate leader)???

Jan 14, 2017
Overall the picture is clear leaders high in dark traits can be bad news for organizations.

Not so fast. While the effects of such leaders can be shown to be detrimental to individual workers they are actually beneficial to organizations as a whole. As the individual worker is seen as expendable and ultimately replaceable those not adhering to protocol are to be reprimanded to allow for maximized productivity for the organization.

The big problem is intelligence in the workplace. When you have an employee with above avg intelligence, he/she has a tendency to create their own work practices (to save time, improve product etc.). While this may appear as beneficial when examined under its own merits the problem arises when you pull back and look at the organization in its entirety. You have a broken cogwheel. An outlier to protocol is disruptive to the system.

An emotionally detached manager is most efficient at fixing these "mechanical" (cogwheel) errors.

Jan 14, 2017
Once a company has a psychopath as a manager it starts a slow trend that leads to the business becoming overlooked in the market. Unless the managers behaviour is checked, they tend to hire more people that are the same as them or will enable their behavoiurs. Rather than hire relationship builders they want " go-getters, who are dynamic and motivated", management speak for sell at all cost. Customers often find the company imposssible to deal with once the product or service has been delivered, because the psychopaths care about their bottom line not the customers'. For a short while the company looks good, lots of sales or product delivered but no ability to problem solve. If the competition offers better overall service, you know who wins in the long run.

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