Why is it that mean people are often more successful than nice people? Do nice guys really finish last?
Steve Jobs cursed his employees and constantly criticized their ideas. Donald Trump seems poised to be the Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidency as his abrasive style now seems to be the norm for USA politics. John Lennon was abusive toward women. Dr. Seuss never liked children.
I have a friend who hates the legal profession. Yet, he says if he ever needs a lawyer, he wants the meanest one in the Yellow Pages.
Hockey teams rely on physical enforcers as designated brawlers to protect their best players from being hurt.
We have these love/hate relationships with jerks. We abhor them and we need them at the same time.
The fact of the matter is, jerks are essential in the workplace. Without them, our organizations would crumble under the weight of volatility, uncertainty, constant change and ambiguity.
Argumentative, egotistical, aggressive and headstrong people are required to push ideas forward and defend the core values of the organization. In other words, they get things done.
They are scrappers. They can take a punch and give one in return. They are amazingly resilient. They can handle feedback. Their memories are short. They can forgive and forget. They tell like it is. They will give you the unvarnished truth. They keep us accountable.
For those experienced in sales, you know the value of a jerk. Oftentimes the top sellers are highly driven, results oriented and brash performers.
Jerks are like pirates. They are the risk takers in our organizations. They throw caution to the wind. They prize freedom and trust their impulses. They are not talkers but doers. They don’t mind being associated with bad news because they tell it like it is. They chase out fear in our organizations
Unfortunately, we stereotype disagreeable people in the workplace. She is not a team player. She is so selfish. She is all about herself. She is not sensitive to other people’s feelings. She is too passionate. She takes herself too seriously.
Inclusive, creative and innovative workplaces need difficult people.
Christians celebrate a man named Jesus who had a bunch of jerks as his sidekicks called disciples. They were able to change the world. Imagine what we could do if we followed their example.