How ‘Brilliant Jerks’ Can Ruin a Workplace

Yesterday I discussed the revelation by a former Uber employee that reporting incidents of sexual harassment to the human resources department was useless. This really hit a nerve with readers, who left many comments about how futile that still is. It’s no surprise that this behavior continues. In his article in the New York Times, Mike Isaac reveals how the “focus on pushing for the best result has also fueled what current and former Uber employees describe as a Hobbesian environment at the company, in which workers are sometimes pitted against one another and where a blind eye is turned to infractions from top performers.” 

In my work for psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces I am often challenged by executives who claim my findings and assertions are too extreme and do not reflect the real world. Clearly, they reflect what is going on at Uber, and Uber is not alone. In 2015, Amazon was exposed for their brutal culture. I discuss these sorts of toxic workplace cultures, how to recognize them, and how to change them, in my new book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire.

Change may be coming at Uber. The exposé by the brave former employee captured the attention of CEO Travis Kalanick, top management and the board. Perhaps with solid leadership a healthier culture could be implemented. I applaud board member Ariana Huffington's vow that company will no longer hire “brilliant jerks.”

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