Organizational psychologists often seem content to define and categorize relevant behaviors and stop there. But curious minds wonder about why people do what they do; curious minds want to go deeper into the problem.
It’s no secret that the corporate world is overrun with bad managers, but why do these leaders behave in ways that destroy the teams for whom they are responsible?
Most people behave badly because they are preoccupied with their own agendas and unable or unwilling to consider how their actions might affect others. There are two causes of self-centered behavior:
Insecure leaders lack confidence and react emotionally to real and imaginary perceived threats. If a subordinate makes a mistake that may reflect badly on the leader, they may react angrily and disproportionately to the subordinate’s mistake. When confronted with data indicating that they have made bad decisions, they could explode and blame the mistake on external factors.
Arrogant leaders have too much confidence, and see others, especially subordinates, as objects to be used for their own purposes. They feel entitled to exploit and abuse their subordinates because the subordinates are existentially unworthy. When confronted with data indicating that they have made bad decisions, they typically ignore the feedback and say it is time to move on.
To learn more about destructive leadership, and how to prevent it, check out Dr. Robert Hogan’s recent Q&A on the subject here.