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This blog post ties in quite nicely with your recent blog post about the book "Getting Even". After reading the book, I had an entirely different perspective of how to look at others in the workplace, especially managers. Perhaps managers become a-holes because they lose perspective on what effects the people around them. They become so focused on pleasing their bosses and surviving that they forget to think hard about how their actions effect others, and they cause damage and appear to be a-holes by accident. This isn't to excuse managers who become a-holes, but at least the book provided me with the alternative explanation of "don't attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity".

Deb Owen

You know, I just wrote about this today. Although, I'm not sure the asshole bosses/owners are worse than they were before, the people who work for them aren't so much turning into assholes themselves -- as just becoming more and more disheartened and depressed.

But they aren't 'gathering info' to be used at a later date to fight back, they're planning an exit strategy. They might not leave the company next week, but they will leave. (And they might leave next week, since they're 'A-players' and still have a possibility of finding another job sooner than people might think.)

The asshole bosses might be getting worse. But that's going to cost them in the long run when they lose the people who are 'sticking with them - for now' while the economy is poor.

All the best!


I think another reason is because of a correlation between the age that people become bosses with periods of their life. Simply put, i think people start becoming bosses exactly when many of them need to start focusing on things other than their jobs.. i.e. family life, work-life balance, mid-life-crises.. The traditional company has expected management to rest in the hands of the middle aged, assuming that age brings certain virtues (which im sure it does), but examples of companies where young leaders have taken the helm (Google/Apple/..) show that such leadership can fare just as well, despite the shortage in the "trips around the sun" department..

Andrew Kramer

I was recently given responsibility to manage a weekly call for my team. I should preface this by saying that I work for a huge asshole boss (we had two people with no job prospects who work directly for her leave just this week--that was 10% of our workforce!)So needless to say, almost everyone that works here has a little bit of asshole on display. When I sent the agenda for the call out I wanted to make some changes (and did) but I might have been a little more aggressive about it than I had anticipated--in other words, I was a little bit of an asshole myself. What I hadn't expected was how much that little bit of control made other people--people who I call friends--turn into raging, ignorant moron assholes themselves. I had one guy call me and apologize for letting his ego get in the way; I also had to say I was sorry for going overboard (just a little but it turns out, that's exactly what my bosses wanted me to do.) I wonder, you spend so much time talking about asshole bosses, but what about asshole subordinates who do everything they can to make everyone miserable and aggressive like them.

I was really shocked to find that I was in an escalating conflict with the guy who eventually apologized. Of course, I should cut him some major slack--he had to spend several hours with our horrible boss the previous two days!

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