How to spot the psychopaths in corporate life

by | Sep 12, 2011 | News

Simon Hayward, managing partner of Cirrus, writes for the HR Bullets website

Can it really be true that one in 25 business leaders is a potential psychopath as was claimed by psychologists Paul Babiak and Robert Hare in a recent BBC2 Horizon programme?

I’ve been working in the area of leadership development for over 25 years and have had the privilege of working with leaders from some of the world’s leading organisations. It’s fascinating to observe different styles of leadership and to see how the most effective leaders inspire and engage others. Babiak and Hare claim that psychopaths are actually attracted to business life because they are adept at looking like they’re good leaders – even when their true actions and results may tell a very different story. Should we be worried? And how can we spot – and stop – a psycho?

This article looks at the traits psychopaths display in corporate life and explains how they get away with being manipulative, callous, breaking promises, and taking credit for the work of others. Psycho leaders are skilled at identifying the traits their employer values and projecting them. In other words, they are master manipulators. It also looks at why the pace of change in corporate life is increasingly appealing to psychopaths, who thrive in environments with few rules and regulations.

So how can the non-psychopathic leaders amongst us address this issue – and how concerned should we be? While it’s a good idea to be aware of it in the workplace, there’s no need to get too worried that your charming and charismatic colleague is turning into Hannibal Lecter next time he says to you, “I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.” That would just be paranoia – which is a topic for another day.

Click here to read Simon’s article in full.

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