There’s a common misperception, particularly in media, business and politics, that being a jerk is a necessary ingredient on the way to becoming and staying successful.
But there’s no data to support this. Sure, some people succeed despite being jerks, not because of it.
For every person who has a reputation as a bully, a deal breaker, an intimidator—someone who fights for every scrap—there are many people who succeeded by weaving together disparate communities, by keeping their word, by quietly creating value.
Both roads can work. The presence of jerks at the top confirms this, and so does the predominance of good folks.
The problem with the jerk path is not that it isn’t more effective, it’s that you have to spend your days being a jerk.