Lars Dalgaard (pictured) used to act like a jerk at work. As a young manager rising through the ranks years ago at a consumer-products company, he was so brutally blunt with subordinates that a coach pulled him aside and told him to be more considerate, says Mr. Dalgaard, founder and chief executive of SuccessFactors, a San Mateo, Calif.-based software company. He has since realized that an old family pattern was at work, he says. His father was so tough and blunt with him when he was small that he was behaving the same way with others, trying to be “the hero CEO, the Rambo” who ignored people’s feelings. Now that he is conscious of the problem, he says he has changed his ways. He has even instituted a “no-jerks” policy at his company, banning similar behavior by others.