Why being an abusive boss doesn’t make you feel better

Abusive bosses are a sufficiently common aspect of working life as to have earned the moniker ‘bosshole’ from Stanford’s Bob Sutton.  It’s sadly all too common that such abusive bosses emerge in times of high stress.  For instance, a study published a few years ago found that during a crisis, just such an abusive relationship can often emerge, with bosses taking out their fears and frustrations on those with least power, rather than perhaps those responsible for events.  It’s what’s known as displaced aggression theory.

Whilst this may give them temporary relief from their stresses, a recent study suggests it does little to improve their wellbeing.

“We always think those who have power are better off, but having power is not universally or exclusively good for the power holder,” the authors say.

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