I have spent much of my career coaching people to become the best they can be. I want to believe that the 'better angels of our nature' will win.That phrase, a powerful one, appears in the final paragraph of  Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address in 1861.

The phrase is also the title of Steven Pinker's best selling book by the same name, where he talks about the decline of violence in our modern world.

I can make a case for less violence. And then I see the news of today and wonder if we have changed at all.

In Don't Bring It to Work I list the 13 most common behavior patterns that impact workplace negativity. Then I talk, cheer-lead, request, beg, that you look at the better angels of your nature and transforming patterns of being a persecutor, pleaser, victim, avoider to the healthy and positive opposite.

Lately, I think maybe I've been totally wrong.

Here's why:

Persecutors (aka bullies) love to be in control. They see others as weak. They are determined to get their way and will talk over or about anyone in their midst. They love the aphrodisiac of power and will blame, judge, or withhold information. Anything to be 'the one.'

Persecutors cause others to shrink and concede and do their bidding. They are loud and bombastic. They cause fear that lowers the self confidence of their teams.

I always thought it would be better if they transformed and became great creative collaborators.

Not so sure.

Most managers who are persecutors think they are doing a great job. Anbd, when I look at the stats, well, often their careers flourish just being jerks.

Pleasers, you know the type. They rarely offer an opinion and are the 'yes' people in the crowd. They play it safe by rarely offering an opinion. As Samuel Goldwyn of MGM fame once said "I don't want any 'yes men' around me. I want everybody to tell the truth, even if it costs them their jobs."

Those who smile and simply please the higher-ups are in line for a promotion. While truth tellers, the transformed pleasers, are often voted off the island for speaking up.

I could go on and prove my point about each of the 13 behavior patterns learned as kids that show up at work.

So, I ask you?

Which is better? To be a jackass and disliked with a faster, shinier car and a lot of power or let your better angels take charge?

Published on: Mar 5, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.