So very true. I once worked at a company where one of the Vice Presidents took obviously sadistic pleasure in torturing people below him in the company hierarchy.
He even said to me once in private, with a smirk on his face, “I love scaring the hell out of people. Watch how I can make them shake when I threaten their ability to support their family. It feels good to have this much power.”
Adult bullying—particularly in the workplace, where people are often terrified of losing their source of income—is a serious problem and society has to stop ignoring it. You may be “the boss” but that does not give you the right to brutalize and abuse the people who work for you. –Father and Husband, Seattle
This comment is from an NYT op-ed piece on about bullying and Lady Gaga’s official unveiling of her Born This Way Foundation at Harvard.
Sadly, the comment isn’t outlandish or even a recent phenomenon.
A memory dating back to the late Seventies is of a VP whose favorite pastime was forcing the managers under him to run layoffs a few days before Christmas; he really got off on that.
Last year Stanford prof Bob Sutton published Good Boss, Bad Boss about how power makes us focus more on our own needs and wants and less on others, also to act like the rules apply to others and not to us.
Based on new research Sutton has added more material on what he terms “power poisoning” to the recently released paperback version.
“Alas, recent developments suggest that staying in tune with the people you oversee is even more difficult than this book suggests. And the other disturbing effects of wielding power over others are even worse than I thought.”
Worse than Sutton thought? That, indeed, is a scary statement and one that should get your attention.
Bad Bosses are the source of bad cultures; there is absolutely no way to separate them.
Bad cultures are the source of bad results; there is absolutely no way to separate them.
This makes it simple for you to know if you have a case of power poisoning, as well as how severe it is.
Look at the results of your organization, whether team, department, division or company.
Just yours, not in combination with the rest of the company or in light of the economy or any other of the dozens of rationalizations available.
If you can actually do that you are at least half way to being able to counter the poison and reading Good Boss, Bad Boss will actually be worth your time.
Image credit: B Garrett