No one is perfect, but there are certain people who are expected to perform better than everyone else. Bosses, in particular, are always under scrutiny. According to a new study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, one mistake or lapse in judgment on their part may have lasting negative consequences.

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Researchers recruited 283 undergraduates from a northeastern university in the US, all of whom had an average of three years’ worth of work experience. The volunteers were asked to read a couple of fictional e-mails, which described two types of errors a leader may make: task errors and relationship errors. The participants were then asked to imagine themselves working under the said subject of the e-mails. An online survey helped researchers measure how competent the participants perceived the leader to be, how much they desired to work for him or her, and how effective they thought the leader was.

Results revealed that errors do affect the way people see leaders. Participants answered that lapses in judgment made them think less of the leader and made them less willing to follow his or her lead. In addition, male bosses appear to be more harshly judged in male-dominated industries than female bosses are. Researchers speculate that males who make mistakes are seen to be violating some sort of male code, while women who make errors are expected to do so.

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Still, regardless of gender, the study shows leaders can’t afford to make too many mistakes. When it does happen, however, researchers recommend that "they recognize the different types of errors they make and consider how these errors impact their followers in different ways."

(Screencap from The Office courtesy of NBC )

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