Exploring the Psychology of the Boss Most people have dealt with a bad boss: the micromanager, the bully, the glory hog. So how do lousy managers make it to the top of the corporate ladder in the first place? Actually, it might be the employees' fault. Workers often see the biggest jerk as the best boss material.
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Exploring the Psychology of the Boss

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Exploring the Psychology of the Boss

Exploring the Psychology of the Boss

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington, D.C., sitting in for Neal Conan.

Death, taxes, working for a jerk, some things in life are certain. The rude, stupid or passive-aggressive blowhard many people call my boss remains a fixture in office culture. The bad boss icon has been captured in countless books, TV shows and movies - most recently by Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada."

(Soundbite of movie, "The Devil Wears Prada")

Ms. MERYL STREEP (Actor): (As Miranda Priestly) I need 10 or 15 skirts from Calvin Klein.

Ms. ANNE HATHAWAY (Actor): (As Andy Sachs) What kind of skirts do you...

Ms. STREEP: Please bore someone else with your questions.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. STREEP: (As Miranda Priestly) I don't understand why it's so difficult to confirm an appointment.

Ms. HATHAWAY: (As Andy Sachs) I know. I'm so sorry, Miranda. I actually (unintelligible)...

Ms. STREEP: (As Miranda Priestly) The tales of your incompetence do not interest me.

Is there some reason that my coffee isn't here? Has she died or something?

I said to myself go ahead, take a chance, hire the smart, fat girl. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more than - more than any of the other silly girls.

ROBERTS: So how is it that this jerk makes it up the ladder? Steve Fishman, contributing editor for New York magazine, went in search of a scientific explanation of what makes some people manager and the rest of us, well, not. In last week's issue he wrote about some social pathologies that categorize bosses: the narcissist, the nurturer, the neurotic.

Later on in the program, Sherman Alexie talks about his latest novel. But first, boss psychology. We'll talk about several types of bosses today, so tell us what kind of boss do you have? Or what kind of boss are you? Our number is 1-800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. E-mail us at talk@npr.org. You can also join our conversation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

Steve Fishman wrote "Boss Science" for New York magazine, and he joins us from NPR studios in New York. Welcome.

Mr. STEVE FISHMAN (Contributing Editor, New York Magazine): Hi, there.

ROBERTS: So do you have a terrible boss? Where did the idea to write an article on the science of bosses come from?

Mr. FISHMAN: No, I don't have a terrible boss, in case he's listening.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FISHMAN: It was, though, a point of some interest as I was handing this article in to him, because I know he read it with great interest. The idea for the article really came from looking around and getting the sense that in the culture, our notions of the workplace have shifted over a long period of time. Our expectations of the workplace have shifted. But some things seem to remain constant, and one of those is that really - according to the research - all of us will at some point work for a boss who's a jerk.

ROBERTS: And there seems to be a pretty deep body of research on this subject.

Mr. FISHMAN: There is, surprisingly. Surprisingly, there is an industrial organizational psychology, an academic tradition going back some years and lately really gaining in respect, which explores in a peer-reviewed context the kinds of things that lead not only to manager's getting ahead - that is to some people being selected as the boss - but also to why those people don't necessarily turn out to be the best bosses.

ROBERTS: Well, this is this dichotomy that seems to keep showing up, this sort of person who appears to be a leader, and the person who actually is an effective leader.

Mr. FISHMAN: That's right. And that's actually one of the fascinating things that I came across. There's this series of experiments or observations that the researchers do, one of which is in what they call a leaderless group. They basically put a dozen people in a room together, they give them an assigned task without saying who should lead the group. And at the end of an hour or two, they ask that group to vote on who the leader should be.

So this is totally an uncontrolled environment, in which people have certain expectations of what a leader should look like. And in the end, they vote those expectations. And what the researchers find is that the person who emerges as the leader after that vote is the person who is going to be seen as leader-like, but not necessarily the person who will be a good leader. In fact, there's one provocative paper that says the overlap between the person who gets chosen as leader and the person who will be the good leader is as low as 10 percent.

ROBERTS: So you say that people choose what they think a leader should look like. Does that mean literally physical characteristics? I mean, is it a generally a middle-aged white guy, or are we talking about traits?

Mr. FISHMAN: The answer is both. Actually, if you look at the research, there's some fascinating papers which suggest that height is a - one of the factors that people look for and recognize as a leadership quality. I mean, there are all kind of study that link height to increased income, increased success, but in this particular experiment, it is also linked to being selected as the leader.

The other kinds of things are more personality driven, and they have to do with, interestingly, intelligence, but not so much intelligence as the ability to appear intelligent. They also have to do with an ability to - and, again, this is the ability to appear empathetic rather than entirely being empathetic. But there's a sense in which someone actually functions as a leader in a group that determines if he or she will be selected as the leader.

And one other thing that struck me as interesting is that the leader - and this has to do perhaps with the conceptions we all have in our minds of what a leader should be - but that person that we think should be a leader often is a disagreeable person. He's often - or she's often a person who actually uses intimidation, dismissiveness, a kind of demeaning attitude towards another person's concerns to establish him or herself as the person to whom others look.

ROBERTS: Also with us is Robert Sutton. He's a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and he's the author of a book...

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: ...whose title our bosses would not let us say on the air. So let's call it for the purposes of broadcasting, "The No Jerk Rule." But then if you're looking for it in the bookstore, you might want to look under the A's, not the J's. If you need to see the real title, you'll find it at our Web site: npr.org/talk. Robert Sutton joins us from a studio at Stanford. Welcome.

Professor ROBERT SUTTON (Organizational Behavior, Stanford University; Author): Thanks.

ROBERTS: So you've been studying leadership science, boss science. What do you...

Prof. SUTTON: Yes, I actually am an organizational psychologist, and actually, Steve Fishman has done a great job of summarizing the research about the kind of individuals who will tend to be given leadership, and also the way they tend to act in leadership positions. But the missing part of the story - and he's completely right about the individual research - is that there's some cultures, there's some organizational contexts that encourage and glorify that behavior, and there're some - the ones that I would say have the no A-blank-blank-blank rule - that don't allow it to happen. So the missing part of the story - and I'm a psychologist, but we're getting more in the domain of sociology and organizational psychology here - is that norms are very strong.

So if you're in the sort of firm where you hire people who yell and scream and that's your model of the leader who gets ahead, that's what you will end up with. But there are plenty of firms out there who squish and don't allow that sort of behavior. So from Google to Proctor & Gamble to Success Factors - which is a software firm in San Mateo - there's lots of cultural contexts that don't allow that sort of behavior.

But on the whole, Steve's right. If you just throw together people in an unstructured group, or if you have the kind of norms that he's talking about where people believe that nastiness is what a good leader does, that's what you end up with. So I agree with him completely, but there are ways you can stop it with the right kind of leaders and social norms - plenty of examples.

ROBERTS: It also seems that jerkiness is contagious, that if you work for a bully, you're likely to become one.

Prof. SUTTON: Absolutely, and to Steve's point about you can produce that experimentally in the lab, and, in general, emotions are one of the most contagious things among human beings.

ROBERTS: Let's take…

Prof. SUTTON: So he's right on target.

ROBERTS: Let's take a call from Scott, in Ann Arbor. Scott, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

SCOTT (Caller): Thank you. Thanks for taking my call.


SCOTT: What I feel about management is that it often fails in American company culture because it's not considered its own discipline. Often people are promoted from production into management, but the study of management, I don't think, is emphasized strongly enough to where someone develops it as their own trade, if you will. Often I've been on hiring committees where I've asked the question of someone who is potentially to be my boss: In your view, what is the function of management? And that's usually when the interview falls apart. They struggle with the question repeatedly. And the answer I'm looking for is management exists to facilitate production, whether it's sales production, material production, or what have you, it's the facilitation part that is management.

ROBERTS: Scott, thanks for your call. Robert Sutton, what do you think about that, that we don't study management as its own discipline?

Prof. SUTTON: Well, actually that's a wonderful point that Scott makes. In fact it - management is not a profession by the way sociologists would define professions. Anybody can be a manager, and you can look - anything from a Santa Claus to Tony Soprano to Rudy Giuliani, they're all models of management, and he's absolutely right. And what management seems to be very often with MBAs is some weird combination of accounting and marketing, and the people stuff is pushed aside. And once people get jobs as managers, it's amazing, the longer they've been in the positions, the more they want to talk about those darn people getting in the way, so I agree completely.

ROBERTS: Let's take a call from Lorenzo, in Phoenix. Lorenzo, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

LORENZO (Caller): Thank you very much. You know I - two points, first of all, what Scott said, I got to agree with him. I mean the job of a manager is to get the job done and to make sure that everyone else gets it done. But I was a manager for many years in the automotive retail business, which is a tough business in and of itself, and everything was results oriented and, you know, that was my job, to get it done, sell cars, you know, get them over the curb, get as many out of here as possible. And it really didn't matter, you know, how you went about doing it as long as - you know, it didn't matter who's feelings you hurt or whatever.

The other thing I learned in being a manager for 14 years - or I don't know if I'm wrong or right about it - but it always seemed like I was the only one who cared about what happened to the company, whether or not we got things done. It seemed like the average employee just cared about getting their paycheck every - you know, every week. I had to be responsible for a lot more of that, and that puts you in a group that's very lonely.

ROBERTS: So do - are people forced to be jerks because they're not getting a lot of help, Robert Sutton?

Prof. SUTTON: Well, sometimes they are forced to be jerks, and in fact if you think of the situations in which people get sort of grumpy or nasty, it's when they're overloaded, they're not given enough support, so sometimes that is the case. But then I go back to the - a sort of culture of the organization. So if you think of a place like Google or Proctor & Gamble, those are environments where people give each other a lot of support and it's somewhat what less likely to happen. But, yes, I agree completely. When you put people in a difficult position, it makes them grumpy, it makes all of us grumpy.

Mr. FISHMAN: You know, if I can jump in.

ROBERTS: Very quickly, because our bosses are telling me I need to take a short break.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Actually, let's take a - take the break first, and then we'll jump in. We're talking with Steve Fishman and Robert Sutton about boss psychology. What category does your boss fall into? 800-989-TALK. You can also send us e-mail. The address is talk@npr.org.

I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts, in Washington, D.C. Neal Conan is away.

When it comes to bad bosses, we've all been there. They're even books on how to survive a lousy leader. Today we're talking about the science and psychology of bosses and how bad bosses make their way into top positions in the first place. Our guests are Steve Fishman, contributing editor at New York magazine, and Robert Sutton, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University and author of a book that we are calling "The No Jerk Rule." There's a link to his blog, and you can see the real title of his book at npr.org/talk.

And we want to know what kind of boss do you have? Or if you're the one in the corner office, what kind of boss are you? Give us a call at 800-989-TALK or e-mail talk@npr.org or chime in on our blog, npr.org/blogofthenation.

Steve Fishman, I cut you off just before the break, which was rude of me. I apologize. Now's your chance.

Mr. FISHMAN: No problem. Now it's raised the expectation level.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: So had better be brilliant now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FISHMAN: There were just two quick comments I was going to make in relation to the last two callers, and that's about how people get to be bosses. Because when I was talking to a variety of people who intervene in the boss selection process, their complaint were - was twofold. One is that a boss gets to be boss because often he or she was a good employee. So you have, for instance, the person who's a technical wizard who then is promoted to manage other technical wizards and yet he or she is not necessarily endowed with the skills or even the inclination to do that managing. So that might go some distance towards explaining why we end up with the jerk boss.

I think the other thing perhaps worth mentioning, and the last caller talked about being in an interview where he was one of the people interviewing a potential boss, was that we probably should ask the question about whether interviews are the best way to choose the next boss. I mean what do they really reveal? In Bob Sutton's book, and some of his terrific research, he points out that people tend to choose people who they like. And then, of course, people who like one another tend to become more like one another. And while that's perhaps good culturally, as he points out, the notion of whether it's the best quality that you need in somebody who's going to be a big manager, I think is open.

ROBERTS: I'm curious if you found, Robert Sutton, or you either, Steve Fishman, about gender differences in this. Because when we talk about somebody who sort of looks like a leader or seems like a leader because they toot their own horn or because they're sort of the loudest person in the room versus the person who's actually a better leader because they're able to reach consensus and are able to get the best out of their employees, sometimes that seems to me the difference between men and women, not to put, you know, too general a point on it. Is there some sort of correlation in gender here, Robert Sutton?

Prof. SUTTON: Well, from my knowledge of this research, first of all, sexism is with us, and if you look at the proportion of senior executives in Fortune 500 firms who are women, it's still quite small, so there is something going on with sexism in our society. But the fact remains that both women and men, when they're in these positions, are capable of turning fairly nasty. And also I think that, to Steve's point about the research, that women who are probably somewhat more narcissistic and better at being aggressive are probably more likely to be promoted into such positions. But the question remains whether that's indicative of the skill required to get the best out of the people around you and to manage what's going on. So there are gender differences.

In bullying it's actually quite interesting, because it turns out that most of the bullying, or jerk bosses, is men doing it to men and women doing it to women because of the structure of occupations that - in some occupations, like, say, human resources or public relations, there tend to be more women, and in engineering, there tends to be more men. So it tends to be men on men and women on women, although there's some indication that men are bigger jerks than women, which doesn't surprise most of the women that I know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SUTTON: But Steve may have something to add as well.

Mr. FISHMAN: Well, the one thing I would add is that it seems to me that the style of bullying is a more masculine style. So whether it's a man or a woman doing the bullying...

ROBERTS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FISHMAN: ...we tend to recognize the way they're bullying as being masculine. One example that immediately comes to mind, it's been in the news a month or so back, is Judith Regan, who was kind of publicly booted out of her position. She was editor-publisher of her own imprint, working for News Corp. And one of the things that really became public as she was booted out was how much she was a tantrum-thrower, how she was always yelling at people that she had the most testosterone in the room. And it was kind of fascinating, not just because she was a jerky boss, but the way in which she was a jerky boss seemed to me to be kind of very typically, stereotypically, almost '50s, 1950s-ish, kind of masculine.

ROBERTS: Well, we've been talking about the bully, but here's a different prototype from Cindy, a e-mail from Cindy at work. I'm fortunate that my boss now fits into the nurturer category. However, my last boss was the worse kind. She pretended to be a nurturer but really only cared about herself and would stab anyone in the back to make herself look good. She told so many lies that she couldn't keep them straight. As a result, no one respected or listened to her. The sneaky boss.

Prof. SUTTON: I think that's one of the worse types of jerks to deal with because they seem nice and then they stab you in the back, and I agree with her. They're one of the most difficult kind because, to Steve's point, the male aggressive stereotype - and by the way, men can be sneaky, too - but the male aggressive stereotypes, in some ways you know what you're dealing with. So in that case, sometimes confronting them works directly, but in the case of the sneaky boss, that's one of - for me one of the most difficult kind to deal with because they smile and they're real nice, and then, pow, they stab you in the back. So that's a tough kind to deal with.

ROBERTS: Let's hear from Kristin(ph), in Indianapolis. Kristin, welcome to the program.

KRISTIN (Caller): Oh, hi, Rebecca. Thank you for taking my call. One of the earlier callers prompted me to think about - he made a comment about how we really don't study management and leadership, and I actually was fortunate enough to major in it in college. There's a great program at Vanderbilt University. And one of the questions that we often came back to, and in my experience in the military as well, is this term boss that we use. Are we talking about leadership or are we talking about management? Because in my experience, there are differences in leadership versus management, and I would love to hear what your panelists have to say about that.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Kristin.

Prof. SUTTON: Well, I - Steve, I don't know whether you want to jump in, but this is something that some people have written about. Warren Bennis, for example, talks - at the University of Southern California - talks about the difference between leadership and management, but I view it as in part a dangerous distinction. Because the notion is that leaders are these people who sort of like set visions and they're real charismatic, but they don't actually do anything. And the people who I tend to like are the leaders who actually get stuff done. So I think that that's something that's in a lot of the literature, but it's also dangerous because - and we see this in some of the leadership program. It's almost like we're producing performers rather than people who can actually run organizations.

So on one hand, I've seen that distinction in the literature, but I also think it's dangerous because it's sort of like actually running an organization becomes like a demeaning thing when in fact you look at the most effective organizations, they have people who actually run the organization and keep it going everyday. And I'll give you an example of Mark Hurd, who's the CEO of HP and has done a great job of turning around HP. He was joking that everybody was at the World Economic Forum a couple of years ago, but he was staying home to run Hewlett-Packard because he thought that's what his job was.

ROBERTS: So it's the difference between someone with vision and someone who can have the vision but also implement it.

Prof. SUTTON: Yeah, I'd worry about that vision thing. I think it's massively overrated...

(Soundbite of later)

Prof. SUTTON: ...and when you start looking - I'm serious - they're the people who do really well in job interviews. This is to Steve's point, that the people who are good at getting jobs are not necessarily the people who are running companies. And although I have some issues with Jim Collins' research, you look at the people who run those effective companies he talks about, they're remarkably mundane, boring people who actually just know how to run an organization. So I think that charisma stuff, although the research shows it helps you get a job, whether we should give those people leadership position remains to be seen.


Mr. FISHMAN: The one point I'd add to that is - and this is going in the same direction - is that if you look at studies of charisma and the correlation between charisma and effective management, there's not really much correlation there. The correlation between charisma - or with charisma - is between charisma and getting ahead in an organization. So it's very much a characteristic that's identified with the leader, but as Bob points out, it's not really clear that it's what gets the job done.

ROBERTS: Let's hear from Taj(ph), in Tempe. Taj, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

TAJ (Caller): Thank you for taking my call.


TAJ: I just wanted to comment on - I'm a personal assistant, and you guys played that - the clip from "The Devil Wears Prada"...

(Soundbite of laughter)

TAJ: ...and I just want to put that urban myth to rest, because my boss is my best friend. Like, I have the greatest relationship with my boss. And I also wanted to comment on how people take on their boss's persona, and I end up doing that sometimes. And it's so funny when I do that because he can call me and yell about something, and then I have to go to that person - I usually nice it up. You know, I like to make things nice. And then - but sometimes I lose it, and I act just like him, and I just wanted to comment, it's so funny how I get so close with him that we start acting like each other. It's really weird.

ROBERTS: Taj, thanks for your call.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Are there dangers to that, too - to having too much in common and liking each other too much?

Prof. SUTTON: Well, yeah, because then - well, when two people are identical, they always think alike. So it's tough for creativity. But I actually thought that was a great call for two reasons.

One is it showed the emotional contagion of both positive and negative emotions. And then the other part is that you don't have to be a jerk to get ahead. It sounds like this guy's got a perfectly civilized boss, which is, I think - one of my sort of key points is that you can set up an organization where civilized behavior is the norm, or set it just in your own little work group. So I thought that was a fascinating call.

ROBERTS: We've got e-mail from Pete in Portland, Oregon, who says, what role do non-jerks play by possibly not seeking positions of management? Is there some greed is good mentality that makes jerks seek positions of authority, and non-jerks shy away from it?

Steve Fishman?

Mr. FISHMAN: That is what - one of the thrusts of my article, which is really that the person - the key qualification in some ways for being a leader is wanting to be a leader. It doesn't have to do really with self-insight and really deciding whether you are the person who should be the leader. So I think in some way that probably is true.

The other thing that I'd raise - and I'd be interested to hear Bob weigh in on this, I know he has a strong point of view on this - is whether you really do want everybody in an organization to be nice, to get along together. He has a concept - I think you call it constructive conflict.

Prof. SUTTON: Confrontation.

Mr. FISHMAN: Constructive confrontation - and, you know, it does seem to me that there's - you know, when you look at the system that is nature, robustness is bred into it by a kind of randomness. You bring in all kinds of types, and then those that are strong get selected out. And I wonder if an organization could be thought of in the same way.

Prof. SUTTON: To Steve's point - and I think Steve actually indirectly brings up a great point, which is there's a difference between being a jerk and being sort of tough enough to get the job done. And so it's one thing to argue over ideas. It's another thing to demean people in the process.

So there's actually a fairly large literature now on the difference between personal conflict and they call it intellectual conflict - fighting over ideas. And in both lab studies and field studies, organizations where people fight over ideas rather than personal matters - and teams too - tend to be more effective.

So what Steve was referring to with constructive confrontation is actually a class that they teach at Intel. They teach all employees how to fight over ideas in a way that's constructive. And this is sort of an outgrowth of Andy Grove's - the former CEO of Intel's amazing sort of personality where he'll fight over ideas like crazy, but is actually quite constructive and intellectual.

ROBERTS: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's take another call. This is Kevin in Indiana. Kevin, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

KEVIN (Caller): Thanks for taking my call.


KEVIN: I've been a supervisor for about eight years, and that was after coming off the floor from 21, all in the same company. When I first took the position - a lot of these guys I basically grew up with - we sat down and we had a talk. I said, you know, this is the way it is, guys. We've all got a job to do. We can either work together and I can be as nice a guy as you let me be, or we cannot work together and I can be as rotten a guy as I have to be.

My guys are the best group of guys in the plant. We get along great. If I need something done, they do it. If I need extra stuff done, they do it. I don't have a hassle.

ROBERTS: Have you ever had to be that rotten guy?

KEVIN: Probably one time, I think, with a specific employee, and it's been probably six years ago. And that was the extent of me being a rotten guy.

The only bad part of my deal is my boss's boss is just the opposite. It's always pointing the finger. It's - I've actually had my boss's boss call me a liar to my face on the floor in front of one of my guys until I explained myself to him and told him that I had an e-mail from one of the VP's in the company and the VP made the statement, not myself, as I was being accused of.

And he does this on a regular basis. Matter of fact, we've been through three plant managers in the last four years. And the plant manager we've got now -who plans on retiring from there I'm sure - is a puppet. And he knows that he's got to do exactly what his boss says, or he won't be there.

ROBERTS: Kevin, thanks for your call. This brings up the issue of layers of bosses, that you may have your own division that you feel that you're running in an enlightened way, but you're beholden to other people. Robert Sutton?

Prof. SUTTON: So I found that to be a fascinating tale. And it's the classic situation that a good first line supervisor is in, in that what part of their job to do is to buffer the people who work for them from the stupidity of management. And it sounds like this guy's doing a good job.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SUTTON: I'm not kidding. I'm quite impressed. And also, the other thing you noticed he was doing was using the hierarchy to get back at this incompetent and jerky person in the middle. Sounds to me like that's the kind of guy that I want to work for. And, in fact, this notion that what a supervisor's supposed to do is to buffer the people who work for them from sort of external shocks, it's quite interesting. But sounds to me like this is a good guy to work for.

ROBERTS: We haven't talked about the micromanager boss, the boss who hovers over your shoulder and tries to do everything for you.

Prof. SUTTON: My colleague, Jeff Pfeiffer, actually did a bunch of - he's a professor at Stanford - did a bunch of research on this. And what his research shows is that if you're a micromanager, you believe your employees are doing a better job when, in fact, you're having no effect or negative effects on what their doing.

So it makes the manager feel better, but it's probably just a waste of time on the manager's side. And there's other research that shows the more questions you ask, the more closely you watch people, it again makes the manager feels better, but it actually interferes with progress and creativity. So there's sort of this cognitive error that bosses make that the more they watch their people, the better they do, when, in fact, all they're doing is getting in the way.

And that's - Jeff Pfeiffer and I have written some books and one of our mottos is managers, like physicians, you should first do no harm. But there's something about the whole MBA education system that seems to treat people - to sort of like monitor people more and more closely and measure everything they do more and more closely. And there's no evidence that helps at all. It just sort of creates work for managers.

ROBERTS: Well, Steve Fishman, it also brings up this idea of seeking personal fulfillment at work, of getting fulfillment from your job rather than outside of your job.

Mr. FISHMAN: Yeah. I was kind of fascinated by that. And looking back - and actually thinking back to what a previous caller said, talking about the division that leaders are supposed to emit. It does seem like there's been an evolution in how we as people who work in offices think about those places we go.

You know, the organization man had entirely different expectations than, for instance, those that become popular when you think of the Internet era. When we - when it seemed to be very popular to have all kinds of, you know, foosball and games and you were going to spend all your time there and the people at work were going to be your friends and it was one kind of big family. And I think…

ROBERTS: And we have to leave it there. I'm so sorry. Steve Fishman, contributing editor for New York magazine, and Robert Sutton, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University. Thanks, both of you.

When we come back from a short break, author Sherman Alexie joins us. I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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