Why there is a good chance your boss is a psychopath

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A study shows that senior managers and CEOs are four times more likely to be psychopaths than typical members of the general public. Managing editor David Donovan reports.

Did you have a nice weekend? Are you at work now?

Well, don't be too alarmed, but research shows that there is an excellent chance your boss may actually be a psychopath.

A recent study from Britain compared senior managers and CEOs with psychopathic patients at Broadmoor mental asylum — and on certain indicators of psychopathy, their scores matched or exceeded those of the patients.

These  are people who are probably not getting any treatment — and who also running our big businesses. George Monbiot details these findings in The Guardian:
In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses’s scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact on these criteria they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare point out that as the old corporate bureaucracies have been replaced by flexible, ever-changing structures, and as team players are deemed less valuable than competitive risk-takers, psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded(4). Reading their work, it seems to me that if you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family you’re likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family you’re likely to go to business school.

Read the rest of this story in The Guardian by clicking here. (There is some other highly interesting research on the sorts of people running our companies and what they get up to — usually at our expense.)

And a more comprehensive study cited by JobMouse says that one in every 25 bosses could be a secret psychopath — that's four times more than the general population:
In a recent study of more than 200 executives, nearly 4 percent scored at or above the traditional cutoff for psychopathy, using the Psychopathy Checklist – a checklist researchers regard as the “gold standard” for assessing this personality disorder. These findings were cited by Paul Babiak, one of the researchers who conducted the study and co-author of the book, “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.”

One out of every 25 bosses is believed to have the mental disorder, but disguise it through their high status, charm and manipulation in the workplace. In contrast, a mere 1 percent of the general population is categorized as having psychopathic tendencies. Therefore, the study suggests that business leaders could be four times as likely to be psychopathic than the average person.

Read the rest of this report by clicking here.

Have a great week at work ... and good luck!

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