If you really want to get ahead - get nasty

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The Independent Online

Good looks count for little, and ambition and talent are sideshows. If you truly lust for power, be stubborn and be disagreeable.

Good looks count for little, and ambition and talent are sideshows. If you truly lust for power, be stubborn and be disagreeable.

From running the country, to leading your profession, researchers have found that the more unpleasant your personal characteristics the more likely you are to make it to the top.

A study of "greatness" presented at the American Psychological Association's annual conference in Washington shows that the more egotistical and manipulative you are, the greater your chances of going down in history as one of the world's great leaders.

Dr Steve Rubenzer, with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, enlisted 100 experts to assess the lives of all 41 US presidents to try and distil "the essence of greatness", which could be applied to those likely to be "great" in all walks of life.

"The research can equally be applied as a measure of who is likely to succeed in the workplace," said Dr Rubenzer, who compared the presidential findings with the personality profiles of normal people.

The findings of the survey were also applicable in Britain, he said. "Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher would seem to fit the bill as they were both seen as stubborn and disagreeable," said Dr Rubenzer. "Thatcher was a strong, tough and assertive leader. From the evidence it appears that it is these characteristics which contributed to her success."

Results of the research also show that great presidents had been more open to new experiences, on the lookout for new excitement, and more open to fantasy when compared with the normal population. Historically, great leaders have not been straightforward and open, but manipulative and lacking in conscience - so no surprises there.

Dr Rubenzer added: "Great leaders use a variety of tactics to persuade people and to achieve their ends. They are not above tricking, cajoling, bullying or lying if necessary. They are true politicians, playing the right tune to each crowd. Successful chief executives also tend to be stubborn and hardheaded, and not humble about their abilities. Happily for Bill Clinton, sexual misbehaviour has no impact on greatness."

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