Does It Pay To Be Mean, Captain Kirk?

Last time I asked, Do Girls Have It Easier, Superman? This time, for all you Star Trek fans, Does It Pay To Be Mean, Captain Kirk? In a recent study, researchers found mean people earn higher salaries. Men who were disagreeable earned 18% more than their agreeable counterparts. After the shock wore off, it actually makes sense.

What Makes A Good Leader?

I’ve been through a few jobs and have seen my fair share of supervisors. They had different personalities and management styles. At the end of the day, the more effective leaders had a mean streak in them. I couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back, it actually takes a person with a backbone to call the shots and lead a team. They have to be able to put their neck on the line, make a decision in tough spots, and not just go with the flow.

My Friend, My Boss

At one company, a friend of mine actually rose to become the head of the department. He was the coolest guy around. Laid back, easy going, always had a smile on his face and got along with everyone. Sadly, some of my more unscrupulous co-workers had a field day. Since he was so nice, these co-workers took advantage of him. They played by their rules because they knew there would be no consequences. To be an effective leader, the lines of friendship can’t be blurred and words like respect, discipline, and even a little fear can’t be forgotten.

Final Thoughts

When I saw this study, I thought the disagreeable ones deserved their higher salary because they probably were managers and led teams. When I was younger, I thought managers were good for nothing and just barked senseless commands. I thought, “Just get out of my way and let me do my job.” Now that I am a bit wiser, I see it takes a special person to plan, strategize, manage resources, and be the fall guy.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Star Trek episodes. Captain Kirk was split into two after a transporter malfunction. There was the soft, caring, sensitive side and there was also the wild, barbaric, mean side. Ironically, when the soft side was placed in the captain’s chair, he was unfit for command. In a crisis, he was indecisive and was a shadow of himself. He needed his mean side to make the tough calls during life and death situations. This is the James Tiberius Kirk we all know and love. Going forward, I suggest we all harness our mean streak. We all bring something to the table. We all have skills and experiences that make us valuable assets. It’s comfortable to be safe, not rock the boat, listen to orders, and be a yes man.

But are you really being all that you can be? Does it pay to be mean?

Stay Inspired!

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20 Responses

  1. MoneyCone says:

    I remember that episode, one of my favorites! Kirk wouldn’t be Kirk if he didn’t have a little bit of both sides!

    Nicely done Buck!

  2. krantcents says:

    Everyone has their own management style and uses it to motivate their employees. The really good managers learn what works for each of their employees and uses that to get them to perform at their best level. Do you have to be mean, I don’t think so. Everything depends on what works!

    • Buck Inspire says:

      You are so right. My point is if you are too nice, you won’t be an effective leader or contributor. It pays to be mean is more catchy than it doesn’t pay if you are too nice.

  3. It certainly doesn’t pay to be mean. When you really need help, you’ll notice that all your friends have deserted you.

  4. Those A type mean guys probably die 18% faster too. (from all the stress)

  5. I think the best leaders are those that are the most respectful. When you are treated like a team mate not a subordinate, given the authority to make decisions, and supported when you are facing difficulty, then you have an awesome boss. I am really fortunate where I am right now because my boss is like this. This is why I won’t change jobs for a while.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      I agree with you totally. The point I was trying to make was leaders can’t be so nice that respect and authority get thrown out the window. When something goes wrong, friendship has to be temporarily put on hold so the problem can be solved. Sounds like you’re in a good spot. Thanks!

  6. Doctor Stock says:

    I suppose it’s like the bully in the playground. Yes, they get their own way and more time doing whatever… but is that an effective life strategy? I wonder by being mean if those same people were passed up for other positions that would have provided them with 25% higher incomes… so in the long run, they actually are disadvantage. I suppose that’s the problem with stats.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      I don’t believe it is an effective life strategy. I was focusing on the workplace, but maybe it’s impossible to turn it on and off. Great point about them missing out on 25% higher ones. I never thought of that. Thanks!

  7. It upsets me that meanness and pay are correlated. I can understand the importance of drive and passion for what you do, but it’s sad that the laid-back, approachable types statistically won’t make it in business.

    In my view the best managers are those who adapt their leadership style to suit the needs of the team and its individuals, who respects their staff enough to do their job without micromanagement and who give regular, useful and constructive feedback.

  8. That’s quite a jump in pay. I need to take my nasty pills more often.

    I hate to bring up politics, but I will anyway. I like President Obama. Perhaps he would be more effective at leadership if he wasn’t always trying to be the nicest person in the room?

    Before he leaves office, I want to be one of those guys that has a beer with him in the rose garden. It must be my turn soon.

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