Waldroop and Butler's Six Problem Behaviors

Overcoming Obstructive Behavior Patterns

Waldroop and Butler's 6 Problem Behaviors

Do you have a "bulldozer" on your team? Learn how to change their behavior.

© iStockphoto/perrykroll

However talented your people are, some of them may display behaviors that hold them back.

One might focus too intensely on potential problems. Another might consistently take on too much work, while another may achieve great things at the expense of his colleagues' feelings.

These people probably have the best of intentions: they want to deliver to the highest standard, and they honestly believe that they're doing this. But the behaviors that they have developed can undermine their effectiveness, damage team morale, and even stall their careers.

In this article, we'll look at six problem behaviors that business psychologists have identified in people who are doing their honest best. We'll also examine what you can do to help these people learn more positive behaviors .


Psychologists James Waldroop and Timothy Butler identified a number of behaviors that commonly hurt people's careers, and they described them in their Harvard Business Review article, "Managing Away Bad Habits" (2000). They later drew out six of the most troublesome traits, and assigned each an easy-to recognize "character." These are:

  1. The Hero.
  2. The Meritocrat.
  3. The Bulldozer.
  4. The Pessimist.
  5. The Rebel.
  6. The Home Run Hitter.

From "Managing Away Bad Habits" by James Waldroop and Timothy Butler. Published by Harvard Business Review, September 2000.


We've outlined the six characters' behaviors from a manager's perspective. However, it's important to focus inward as well. If you think that you may display some of these behaviors, ask a trusted colleague or friend for their opinion.

If any of the behaviors apply to you, you can apply the strategies given here to overcome them.

The Six Characters and Their Problem Behaviors

Let's look at the six characters – and the traits that they display – in more detail. We'll then outline how you can coach your people to learn new, more positive behaviors instead.

1. The Hero

Most managers love to have a Hero on their team. Driven by personal and organizational success, Heroes constantly push themselves and others to complete projects on time and on quality, producing top results.

But Heroes can...

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