Sometimes the boss really is a psycho

In general, Timothy Judge, a management professor at Notre Dame University, said his research has shown that agreeable people – those who are cooperative, nice and gentle – are less likely to emerge as leaders than disagreeable people. That’s even though agreeable leaders tend to do just as good a job as disagreeable people, he said.

More generally, Judge’s data also has shown that being agreeable can harm many aspects of career success, including salary negotiations, occupational prestige and career attainment.

“We have this quality that we say we really want in people, and yet if you look at the labor market it really punishes that,” Judge said.

The extremely bad bosses, such as the “aberrant self-promoters” Gustafson has identified, aren’t necessarily more prevalent in the upper ranks than any other type of personality, she said. However, these truly bad bosses are more memorable because they wreak so much havoc.

“They have more influence and they’re more likely to bully and intimidate and ruin other people,” she said.