Sorry for the language, but I just watched the following Google talk by Robert Sutton (author of Good Boss, Bad Boss) and he doesn’t shy away from such language so I figured I wouldn’t either:
It occurred to me that, using his language, we can divide bosses (and co-workers) into the following categories:
- Nice and competent
- Assholish and competent
- Nice and incompetent
- Assholish and incompetent
Of course, everyone likes #1 and no one likes #4. The question is which you prefer between #2 and #3. Would you rather work with a productive asshole or a friendly slacker?
I’m not sure if it has to do with my upbringing, or more specifically my temperament in the face of conflict, but in people I work with I always prefer competence without much value assigned to personality. I feel like a common ground (where things can get done) is much easier to come to when both parties are willing and able to work at it.
But of course we all should strive to be #1: both nice and competent.