90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
When Workplace Jerks Get Promoted

When the boss is a bad apple. How some pretty dark traits can push some to the top.

A comical sign suggest the modern workplace is anything but collegial . (KW Reinsch / Flickr)

A comical sign suggest the modern workplace is anything but collegial . (KW Reinsch / Flickr)

It takes all kinds to turn the world.  In the world of work, some kinds are harder to take than others.  Psychologists point to what they call a “dark triad” of traits that mark a particular kind of corporate climber, workplace striver, who can rise but can also make a mess.  The triad of traits, they say, is this:  that ambitious colleague who is also narcissistic, anti-social, and manipulative/Machiavellian.  A little bit of that mix can be rocket fuel.  A lot can be a problem.  Maybe you’ve seen it.  This hour On Point:  the “dark triad” at work.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Sue Shellenbarger, work and family columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Seth Spain, professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University-SUNY’s school of management. (@SethMSpain)

Nancy Koehn, historian and professor of business at the Harvard Business School. (@nancykoehn)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us — ” So-workers may possess a dose of one of the personality traits that psychologists call the ‘dark triad': manipulativeness, a tendency to influence others for selfish gain; narcissism, a profound self-centeredness; or an antisocial personality, lacking in empathy or concern for others. These traits are well-known for the bad behavior that they can cause when dominant in people’s personalities. At milder levels, however, they can actually foster skills that can help people rise through the ranks.”

Inc.: What Leaders Can Learn from Narcissists, Manipulators and Psychopaths — “Sometimes scientific research teaches us things we might not want to know. That happened when organizational psychologists studied West Point cadets to learn what personal qualities were most likely to predict success. The No. 1 answer? Narcissism.”

Psychology Today: Shedding Light on Psychology’s Dark Triad — “Lurking beneath the surface of people who use others to their own advantage is psychology’s ‘Dark Triad.’ Defined as a set of traits that include the tendency to seek admiration and special treatment (otherwise known as narcissism), to be callous and insensitive (psychopathy) and to manipulate others (Machiavellianism), the Dark Triad is rapidly becoming a new focus of personality psychology.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 30, 2015
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch gathers her papers during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination. (AP)

Obama abroad. Hostage drama. Attorney general hearings. Snow days. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Jan 30, 2015
In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

“American Sniper.” Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s war film keeps crushing at the box office and stirring more controversy. We’ll go to it.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 29, 2015
This Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 a street side memorial with a painted portrait of Ezell Ford near where he was shot when police confronted him on Aug. 11, 2014, on a street near his home in South Los Angeles. (AP)

The author of “Ghettoside” takes us deep into murder and law enforcement in minority neighborhoods. We want your story.

 
Jan 29, 2015
Mike Johnson, a sales manager at a local Honda car dealership, walks past a row of Honda CRV SUVs Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz.  (AP)

Is it the next subprime scandal? Banking giants piling into high-interest auto loans for the poor. We’ll investigate.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment