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What makes a bad boss?

A Bond University study will seek to determine the level and nature of bad leadership in business by seeking to define ‘what makes a bad boss’.

Professors Ben Shaw and Anthony Erickson of Bond University’s School of Business first broached the topic of bad leadership in 2006 when they undertook a study that revealed that one way people get ahead in the business world is by making their subordinates miserable.

Almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in their initial survey indicated that the local workplace tyrant was either never censored, or was promoted for domineering ways.

Their research made headlines around the world, and now the Professors are conducting a broader, more quantitative follow-up survey to determine the extent of bad leadership in organisations, and the common characteristics of a ‘bad boss’.

They are looking for 1,000 people to answer an online questionnaire about their current boss, and Dr Erickson says it doesn’t matter if you think they’re good, bad, or average at their job.

“It’s a very engaging survey that will make you think about the boss you have now, and the bosses you’ve had in the past.

“Some people who have already responded have commented about it being quite cathartic – a good venting session!” he said.

Dr Erickson says that while there has been plenty of research into what makes a good leader, the ‘dark side’ of leadership remains relatively unexplored.

“If this was medicine, it would be like studying health without looking at disease;” he explained.

“We need to be able to recognise the characteristics of bad leaders – what are the causes of their adverse behaviour and how do we fix it?”

“The results of this survey will contribute to the development of new theory on bad leadership and a greater understanding of leadership overall,” Dr Erickson said.

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