Nathanael Fast, a management and organization professor at USC, led a research study that “found a direct link among supervisors and upper management between self-perceived incompetence and aggression.”
“Incompetence alone doesn’t lead to aggression,” said Serena Chen, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley who helped author the study. “It’s the combination of having a high-power role and fearing that one is not up to the task that causes power holders to lash out.”
Bosses who are in over their heads are more likely to bully subordinates and create a hostile work environment. That’s because their own feelings of inadequacy trigger them to lash out at those around them.