Everyone reading this newsletter knows someone who got to the top by being (or in spite of being) a total jerk.
If you don’t know that person, you are that person. And people hate you.
But you don’t care. Because everywhere you look, you see more proof that money, power and fame will always come to the bullying, vacuous, and self-obsessed.
Failed footballer and make-believe hardman Gordon Ramsay made a gajillion dollars by intimidating people on TV. World-class bastard Tom Armstrong is pocketing $180m after selling AOL to Verizon for $4.4 billion. Arrogant paranoiac Carly Fiorina damn-near ran HP into the ground, and she’s running for President.
Why bother being good when being bad gets you so much gravy?
Because if you keep this crap up, no one will want to work for you.
“I’m Angry Because I CARE, DAMMIT!!”
When confronted with their behaviour, the abusive and overbearing all draw upon the same litany of excuses: we’re passionate, we’re driven, we’re under incredible pressure. Or, my favourite, “people only complain about my behaviour because I make them work!”
No. People only complain about your behaviour because you’re being a dick.
“I’m not here to be liked . . .”
Another fallacy of the ferocious: to interpret any suggestion that they adjust their behaviour as a plea for turning the workplace into the land of sunshine and gumdrops. You don’t need to hug anyone. Just stop shouting.
3 Reasons People Follow Jerks
1. They Believe in THE CAUSE
If you’re leading people to the promised land, you can get away with almost anything. Moses got to smash golden calves and throw stone tablets at people because he freed them from Pharaoh and offered the Kingdom of God. Margaret Thatcher could bully her underlings because they shared her dream of a Britain modelled on the first third of Oliver Twist.
2. You’re Going to Make them Wildly Rich
People will put up with a heapin’ helpin’ of hot, steaming crap if they see an absurdly huge payout off in the distance. The aforementioned Armstrong, undeniably a total turd, would have been out on his ass but for the fact that he’s made his investors a giant pile of money.
3. You’ve Broken What’s Left of Their Spirits
Unless they’re committed to the revolution you’re leading or they’re certain you’re going to grease their gullets with gold, talented, capable people will stop working for you if you keep pushing them around. The only ones left will be the people whose confidence you’ve sapped – so convinced of their worthlessness they don’t even look for another job. They’ve quit, but they haven’t left. And all they dream about is your eventual failure.
Sometimes, We NEED Wolves
When you’ve got a corpse, minus a head in the garage, you want somebody to take charge. In certain circumstances, arrogant, rude, even aggressive behaviour is exactly what we want from a leader. We’re more likely to follow visibly confident, highly assertive people. But only when they can controltheir behaviour – choosing when to take it to 11.
For more on this complex point, read this article from The Atlantic. It’s long, but fascinating.
So What’s the Point?
If your management style includes yelling, throwing things, or insulting people, it’s time to stop. Grow up. Stop making excuses. If you lose control of your temper, you’re forfeiting your right to lead. If your authority depends on undermining the confidence of the people who work for you, you have no real authority.
And if you’re working for a bully who’s not paving the road to Valhalla or securing the financial future for you and your family for generations to come – then show yourself enough respect to find a better boss.