When Bosses are Too Bossy



I bet you don’t know the name Darren Treadway.

Until I read an article by Allison Linn, a reporter for CNBC, neither did I.

Mr. Treadway is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management who’s most recent research looks at bullies in the workplace. Darren Treadway is studying why bullies are able to make it in the workplace and even continue to get ahead and become very successful, despite their disposition and behaviors.

This is a growing area of interest for a number of researchers who are finding that some of the more successful bullies in the workplace are “very, very socially skilled.” They are also “capable of disguising their behavior.”

Abusive, difficult bosses/managers can hurt people’s careers as easily as good bosses can really help a person’s career. According to a study earlier this year by Glassdoor, involving 2,000 adult workers, 2 out of 10 say a manager has harmed their career.

What makes it possible for bad bosses to continue bullying and abusing their workers is that many of them are usually smart enough to manipulate and charm some people at the same time they abuse other people. They are good at being able to determine who they can charm successfully and who they can manipulate successfully.

An ‘in-the-news’ example of this involves alleged bullying of San Diego mayor Bob Filner, who was accused this week by his communications director of harassment. Irene McCormack Jackson claimed Mayor Filner dragged her around in a headlock while whispering sexual comments and advances. These claims were denied by Filner.

It is generally accepted in the workplace that good bosses need to be bold and aggressive. They possess a mentality of getting things done at all costs and not letting anything get in the way of achieving results. Not only is this mentality accepted in the workplace, in most cases it is expected.

This may be more of an ‘old school’ mentality, and hopefully people are beginning to realize that a good boss can be predictable, tough and fair, still getting things done.

But in his research, Timothy Judge, a management professor at the University of Notre Dame finds that although they do as good a job as disagreeable people; cooperative, nice and gentle people who are agreeable in nature, do not end up becoming leaders. According to Judge, although “we have this quality that we say we really want in people…if you look at the labor market, it really punishes that.”

Being agreeable can harm many aspects of career success, as Judge’s data shows, including occupational prestige, salary negotiations and career attainment.

Bullying at Work

Bullying at Work

In reality, we are most likely not to have the boss who is truly a psychopath, nor are we likely to have an uber-nice-guy for a boss. The ‘average’ offensive boss is the way he is due to being unskilled and unpolished. He doesn’t handle stress well, so he tends to yell at people in public. He isn’t fair toward you because most likely, he isn’t always fair throughout most of his life.

So, rest assured, if you truly feel your boss falls into the absolutely awful category, this will more than likely be discovered as they ‘climb the ladder’ and their climb will be short lived. The amount of time you will have to endure your miserable boss, will hopefully not be very long and you will be able to breathe more easily in the near future.

If you have an interesting boss story that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


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