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Study finds bad bosses could turn employees into great bosses

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Having a horrible boss could actually make you become a better leader rather than turn you abusive, a new study suggests.

The study was done by the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) College of Business professors, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso, Suffolk University and Singapore Management University, and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

As part of the study, researchers spent several years examining the differences in attitude and behaviour of supervisors who had been abused by their superiors and those who had not, and in turn, how each group treated their own employees.

According to UCF professor Shannon Taylor, the findings shed light on a silver lining of sorts for people who receive abuse at work. He said: “Some employees who are abused by their bosses resolve not to repeat that pattern with their own subordinates and become exceptional leaders of their teams.

“Some managers who experience this abuse can reframe their experience so it doesn’t reflect their behaviour and actually makes them better leaders.”

In fact, the study found that employees who relied on their morals and integrity to defy an abusive manager felt encouraged to prevent it when they moved on to their own supervisory roles.

That said, Taylor stresses: “The lesson here isn’t to hire more abusive managers, of course, but to try to encourage people who have been abused, among other things, to say, ‘Look, I’m not like my boss.’

“You can take a stand—not just by reporting the bad behaviour, but by actively rejecting this abusive leadership style.”

Photo / 123RF

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