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1 In 5 CEOs Are “Successful Psychopaths”

"We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there’s an adequate assessment to hopefully identify [these successful psychopaths] – to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly…"

That is the cunning plan of Australian psychologists following a study that found that about one in five corporate executives are psychopaths – roughly the same rate as among prisoners. As The Telegraph reports,

The study of 261 senior professionals in the United States found that 21 per cent had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. The rate of psychopathy in the general population is about one in a hundred.

 

Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist who conducted the study, said the findings suggested that businesses should improve their recruitment screening.

 

He said recruiters tend to focus on skills rather than personality features and this has led to firms hiring “successful psychopaths” who may engage in unethical and illegal practices or have a toxic impact on colleagues.

 

“Typically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other,” he said.

 

“For psychopaths,  it [corporate success] is a game and they don’t mind if they violate morals. It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others.”

The global financial crisis in 2008 has prompted researchers to study workplace traits that may have allowed a corporate culture in which unethical behaviour was able to flourish… ironic indeed as Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf blames 5300 of his employees for 'nasty' behavior and is unable to see any top-down ethical collapse as behind the systemic fraud.

To help CEOs "self-identify" as psychopaths, here is a quick test…

How to tell if your boss is psychopathic, Machiavellian, a narcissist or – even worse – all three.

For each character trait decide whether you strongly agree, agree, feel it applies sometimes, disagree or strongly disagree and give a score from 5 for strongly agree to 1 for strongly disagree.

 

The higher the score, the more they have combined psychopathic, Machiavellian and narcissistic tendencies.

 

1. They tend to exploit and trick others for self-advancement.

 

2. They have used lies and deception to get their way.

 

3. They have used ingratiation to get their way.

 

4. They tend to manipulate others for selfish reasons.

 

5. They tend not to feel regretful and apologetic after having done wrong.

 

6. They tend not to worry about whether their behaviour is ethical.

 

7. They tend to be lacking in empathy and crassly unaware of the distress they can cause others.

 

8. They tend to take a pretty dim view of humanity, attributing nasty motives and selfishness.

 

9. They tend to be hungry for admiration.

 

10. They tend to want to be the centre of attention.

 

11. They tend to aim for higher status and signs of their importance.

 

12. They tend to take it for granted that other people will make extra efforts to help them.

* Courtesy of Office Politics by Oliver James (Vermillion)