Being Aggressive And Cutthroat Doesn’t Get You Ahead In Your Career, Study Finds

September 1, 2020

Staying motivated at work is crucial for employees’ long-term career success, but having the right attitude is also key for both personal and employment-related advances.

Now, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have found that being aggressive at work doesn’t always lead to the best results. According to their findings, being more aggressive at work at the expense of others can hurt both personal and professional outcomes.

“I was surprised by the consistency of the findings,” said researcher Cameron Anderson. “No matter the individual or the context, disagreeableness did not give people an advantage in the competition for power — even in more cutthroat, ‘dog-eat-dog’ organizational cultures.”

Finding the right attitude

To understand how consumers’ attitudes can affect their career gains, the researchers surveyed groups of undergraduate and graduate students in the business world to gauge their personalities. The researchers then tracked their professional growth over more than 10 years and also surveyed the participants’ coworkers to better understand how they were viewed in the office environment.

Anderson explained, being selfish and trying to get ahead wasn’t effective in attaining professional growth. Those who were kinder and more generous were more likely to gain more prestigious roles in their companies at a faster pace.

The researchers fear that more aggressive personality types can hinder both personal and professional accomplishments. Though those who were more selfish were able to succeed professionally, coworkers were less likely to think favorably of them, which can harm their personal relationships.

Moving forward, the researchers hope that those in the highest positions of power take these findings into consideration so they can be more selective about who gets promoted and improve workplace dynamics reports Consumer Affairs.

“The bad news here is that organizations do place disagreeable individuals in charge just as often as agreeable people,” said Anderson. “In other words, they allow jerks to gain power at the same rate as anyone else, even though jerks in power can do serious damage to the organization.”

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