Millennial Lawyers Think They Work for Jerks: Are They Right?

I hear it all the time from our newest generation of lawyers. “I work for a jerk.” “I can’t please my supervisor with ANYTHING I do.” “Everything has to be PERFECT. Nothing else matters,” and “This guy thrives on my weaknesses and failures.”

According to a recent article, there are some tell-tale signs that, indeed, your boss may be a jerk. A brilliant jerk at that, but, nonetheless, a certifiable jerk.

So what does it take for a hardworking and dedicated boss to become a jerk? Here is how it is explained in the article:

A brilliant but abrasive leader is extremely talented but is driven to gain recognition above all else. They are exceptionally intelligent, but they use that intelligence for their own professional benefit rather than in the best interest of the company. … They are blinded to the costs their behavior has for individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. They can destroy people’s self-confidence and inflict serious, lasting damage on their company. This toxic environment erodes morale and causes turnover to spike.

Pretty harsh but probably well-deserved. Even though it may be difficult to be a manager — and I know from personal experience that it is — that is no excuse for the kind of self-centered and destructive behavior described above. And that kind of behavior needs to be called out and avoided at all costs.

So beware of these bad managers. Look for the following characteristics:

  • Lack of empathy;
  • Volatile and manipulative behavior;
  • Perfectionism, including setting unrealistic standards and deadlines for themselves and others;
  • Difficulty with personal relationships, including low emotional IQs and trouble dealing with individual weaknesses; and
  • Fear of failure and belief that their leadership is always being challenged and judged by the failures of their direct reports.

And commit the following words to memory:

Abrasive leaders can be incredibly charismatic, especially to clients. Due to their razor-sharp intelligence, they have strong powers of persuasion. But they also create a culture of fear that robs employees of their voice and deadens creativity.

Don’t be robbed. Leaders with these kinds of negative characteristics do not change. But you can. You can change departments or change employers. Anything less is self torture.

And you deserve more.

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