My Boss is a Psychopath!

Chances are that either you or some of your colleagues are working for a psychopath. And I don’t mean it in the name calling way. I mean in a diagnosable way.

Don’t believe me, consider the following studies:

  • A study of supply chain managers in different companies indicated between 3% and 21% of them were were clinically psychopathic. (Its only 1% in the general population)
  • A study from Bond university found that 55 out of 261 corporate leaders had significantly levels of psychopathy.

While it is hard to fully study psychopaths at work (I mean who wants to admit they are one), more and more researchers are finding the corporate life attracts psychopaths. Some researchers have even speculated that 1 in 10 C-level leaders are psychopaths.

While I am skeptical on the 1 in 10 estimates, there is no doubt that some psychopathic traits fit nicely into corporate life. Imagine Frank. He is the CEO of a medium sized marketing company. He is known for his charm and being incredibly persuasive, but with the competition, he is ruthless. Some might say he has an over inflated ego, but he is the one who makes the tough decisions and doesn’t fear the risks. While this could be any CEO, he could also be a psychopath.

The impact of Psychopath Leaders on the business

And in some ways it makes sense for organizations to be attracted to psychopaths. They come across as smart, energetic, charming, and are great at influencing others. Combine that with the fact that they are fearless and confident in their vision, it makes for a compelling hire. Psychopaths can be incredible successful, and your business may benefit… at least in the short term.

Just like psychopaths who actually kill people, psychopathic leaders leave a trail of bodies. They are emotionally manipulative, control freaks, liars, and will not hesitate for a second to protect themselves by throwing someone else under the bus. Whatever short term gains the department or business may benefit from a psychopathic leader, the long term costs are your team (your talent will leave) and your culture (it will be a toxic swamp).

So what can you do about it:

I don’t recommend becoming the corporate version of Dexter. It’s a nice fantasy to imagine the psychopath leader getting a just punishment, but that isn’t likely. They have been a successful psychopath for a long time, so don’t try doing corporate battle with them.

But don’t be intimidated either. Psychopathic leaders try to control others through their emotions whether that is fear (through intimidation) or kindness (through sympathy). Don’t fall for their tricks to raise your emotions.

Another important thing to do is to call out their lies. These types of leaders lie like it is their second nature. You don’t have to call them liars to their face, but you can challenge them with the facts.

But the biggest recommendation I have is to leave. Move to another department or leave the company. The short term gains might be great, and your team might get a big bonus as your leader will ruthlessly achieve success. But sooner or later it will be your turn to be the victim.

Don’t be the young teen searching different rooms for the killer. Just get the hell out of the house, and don’t look back.

My Boss is a Psychopath

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There are more psychopathic leaders than we want to admit, even though some researchers say that its 10% of C-Levels. Don’t be the one in denial. That is the character in the movie that gets killed off first. @Caveman_In_Suit #HR #Leadership

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