The Devil In Your Workplace? Bad Bosses Are Bad For You

Toxic bosses

There are those people who are lucky enough to only ever work with wonderful colleagues and kind, supportive bosses. Unfortunately though, some people find themselves stuck with mean spirited people which can make work life much harder.

Anyone who finds themselves with a cruel boss can find their working life increases in difficulty in all areas. While this may be just an annoyance for some, research from the University of Manchester’s Business School has shown that it may be more serious than expected.

Toxic Bosses Have An Effect On Health

The study involved 1,200 participants in a wide range of industries along with a variety of countries. They took part in three studies and also completed questionnaires that specifically related to their psychological wellbeing, the personality of their manager along with the prevalence of bullying in their organisation or company.

It was found that bosses who displayed negative personality traits in turn had employees who had lower levels of job satisfaction. As well as this, employees also unfortunately scored higher on a clinical measure of depression.

This information may not be particularly surprising for anyone who has worked under a leader who has bad personality traits. What is perhaps shocking is that the negative personality traits of bosses had an effect on employees.

A Domino Effect On Employees

Under the leadership of bosses who displayed negative personality traits, there was a correlation of higher instances of both counterproductive work behaviour as well as workplace bullying. This startling revelation means that mean and cruel bosses can turn their employees mean and cruel as well, creating a cycle of negativity.

Lead researcher Abigail 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.”

The findings were presented at the Division of Occupational Psychology’s annual conference in Liverpool.


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Sarah Jubb

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