Blog 3: relation-oriented leadership

Upon the recommendation in class, I read “Competent Jerks, Loveable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks” by Casciaro and Sousa Lobo. I think this is an excellent read and recommend it to my classmates. The summary of the article is that employees can be classified into two categories; likeability (stars and jerks) and competence (competent and incompetent). The article also provides strategies on how to deal with each combination of categories, particularly the likeable fools and the competent jerks.

One issue I have with this article is that they seem to generalize on the agreeableness on the categories. That is, that everyone in the team agrees on who the stars and jerks are. I think that in reality, people often have different opinions. Brian may think that Steve is great, while Aaron thinks that Steve is unbearable. The article does provide recommendations about how to deal with jerks, but when the team members do not feel unanimous about someone’s likeability, a manager would have difficulty in employing an effective strategy from the article. Instead, I recommend a manager solicit feedback about a supposed jerk from all members of the team to validate the strength of agreement. If the opinion is more or less evenly split, the manager will need to address these issues on a person-by-person basis.

One section of the article talks about the benefits and harms of having a highly likeable team. Highly likeable teams have better collaboration and efficiency, while less likeable teams can bring a broader set of perspectives (through conflict) and ensure that the best people are assigned to the task (instead of just the most likeable). Of the two ends of the spectrum, I would prefer to lead a more likeable team. I want my team members to feel happy and secure in their work environment. I believe that highly likeable teams allow members to communicate more openly, since they would not feel threatened by suggesting something. Furthermore, I feel that they would also be more critical of discussions and ideas for the same reasons. Teams that are not likeable and trusting are probably more likely to hide mistakes and not support each other. I would be curious on the research on this topic: do more likeable teams perform better?

I did some quick research and found some supporting conclusions. The article “Relation of Collaborative Interpersonal Relationships to Individual Satisfaction and Organizational Performance” concluded that “team collaboration is significantly related to satisfaction of individuals’ needs”. Another article “nterpersonal aggression and team effectiveness: The mediating role of team goal commitment.” found that “Interpersonal aggression is negatively related to team performance”. Therefore, it seems as though happy teams are better performers. A further avenue for research would be if unhappy or less likeable teams are more innovative.


Aram, J. D., Morgan, C. P., & Esbeck, E. S. (1971). Relation of Collaborative Interpersonal Relationships to Individual Satisfaction and Organizational Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 16(3), 289-297

Aubé, C., & Rousseau, V. (2011). Interpersonal aggression and team effectiveness: The mediating role of team goal commitment. Journal Of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 84(3), 565-580. doi:10.1348/096317910X492568

Casciaro, T., & Lobo, M. (2005). Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks. Harvard Business Review, 83(6), 92-99.

One thought on “Blog 3: relation-oriented leadership

  1. I would recommend caution in regards to having a manager soliciting feedback about a supposed jerk in order to build consensus. If someone is a real jerk, that’s one thing. However, one would want to make sure that the ‘jerk tendencies’ are not just symptoms of personality conflicts between well meaning people. If it’s just personality conflicts, then there may be more appropriate ways of dealing with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *