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

06 January 2017

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

These are the key findings of research from the University of Manchester's Business School which was presented at the Division of Occupational Psychology's annual conference in Liverpool today by lead researcher Abigail Phillips.

A total of 1,200 participants from a wide range of industries and countries took part in three studies, completing questionnaires relating to their own psychological wellbeing, the prevalence of working bullying in their organisation and their manager's personality.

Analysis of the data showed that those working for leaders who display these negative traits had lower levels of job satisfaction and scored higher on a clinical measure of depression.

Beyond this, instances of counterproductive work behaviour and workplace bullying were also higher under their leadership.

Ms Phillips commented:

“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.”

Further coverage on this study can be found in the Daily Mail.

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