Should Leaders Be Nice or Not?

Interesting article on “Academic Assholes” that got me thinking.

I have to admit that I have less and less patience for working with people that are jerks. That may¬†give the appearance of greater intelligence and competence, but they’re usually not. There are lots of great business (and academic) leaders out there who are “nice” and successful. You just don’t get to hear about them because they’re also not narcissistic or histrionic (i.e. they don’t sell books or newspapers).

3 thoughts on “Should Leaders Be Nice or Not?

  1. Thanks for sharing! I really liked the article.

    In business, most will say there is a mismatch between perceived competence and actual performance in managers/leaders. Maybe this comes from the fact that there are no fool proof ways to determine which of the many factors contributed most to the success of a project or group? So we have to make our best guess based on our own beliefs and biases.

    I bet any group of self proclaimed “nice” people would say that the success of assholes is not based in merit! Such is the way we are. And maybe, sometimes, “asshole” qualities contribute to success more than we would like to admit.

    Then again, I would trade top performance for a functional and happy team every time, and I hope my bosses would do the same.


  2. Define ‘happy’. I think the better word is ‘fulfilled’. Fulfilled teams tend to know the mission of the company and how they fit into that mission. Fulfilled teams are aware of the day to day situation and leverage channels to the max to stay on top of things. Fulfilled teams get regular feedback (good and bad) from their superiors. These conditions can provide for sustained performance, IMHO.


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