But researches have never take a close look at the negative elements.
"Was it possible that they might be beneficial in some contexts?" Harms asked. "For some of them, it turns out that the answer was yes."
The study followed more than 900 officer cadets in their second, third and fourth years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It used the Hogan Development Survey, a comprehensive measurement of traits that can derail managers, to predict changes in a variety of leadership areas that were regularly assessed in developmental reviews at the Academy.
Several of the 12 "dark side" traits -- such as those associated with narcissism, being overly dramatic, being critical of others and being extremely focused on complying with rules -- actually had a positive effect on a number of facets of the cadets' leadership development over time, the study found.
Stubbornness is a bad-but-good trait that Marko Salonen sees in his manager.
"It gets things done. She won't let go. She won't let go," he said. "In any other relationship, it would be a bad thing, but at work it's a good thing."
"By themselves, these ... traits had fairly small effects, but when aggregated, they played a substantial role in determining which cadets developed leadership skills," Harms said. "Assumptions about how these traits affected performance and development were mistaken ..."
The impetuous, raging, Faustian, hateful, bigoted, radical animal emerges as possibly more effective than the kumbaya, "rational," neurotic modern.
No mention of whether it was beneficial to sodomize those you defeat in hand-to-hand combat, but I'm sure it was just an oversight.