When I started the day I had no intention of writing a blog about bosses with psychopathic tendencies but my day took a turn when a young woman I have worked with and care for sent me a pained message saying her boss was doing to her exactly what I had experienced a few years ago. My heart ached for her but from my experience and what I’ve seen happen to others in similar situations I had to say, “the job isn’t worth your mental health so find a way to cut your losses and get out.”
“Psychopath” isn’t actually in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual anymore. I think we call them something much more politically correct now. “Anti-social is the term.” For the purpose of this commentary I will continue to use the term psychopath because I think “anti-social” is sort of like saying a junkyard dog doesn’t get along well with people.
There might be some good things about having a leader who is a psychopath because they are quick thinkers, organised and able to separate themselves emotionally from situations when important decisions are to be made.
Hiring boards should know that the psychopaths also shine in interviews because they are manipulative and charismatic. A good reason to consider hiring the third choice I would think. In the long run, it might cost less in staff turnover and lawsuits for wrongful dismissal.
The numbers in some articles on the subject are alarming but we should not be so surprised in this “Trumpian” era when the masses follow so easily the figures which are charming and know how to stir up the crowd rather than those who sensible and appeal to good sense and good morality.
One interesting story I found on the subject I read on Charity Villiage by Susan Fish four years ago, shortly after leaving a work situation akin to hell. It explains the high incidence of psychopathic personalities working in the not for profit sector and gives a good account of what it is like to work for them but the bottom line is basically, “you might as well get out because you won’t change their ways or their poor treatment of you and they likely have the board fooled too.”
An article in Forbes by Victor Lampan about psychopaths in business has similar warnings and details but also offers some “steps companies can take to help prevent costly and damaging hiring and promotion mistakes.” The Forbes article also highly recommends the book Snakes in Suits by Robert D. Hare
My great sorrow in this is for those who suffer at the hands of the psychopath with mental distress and job loss but I also fear for the likes of the agencies where they work. Good people with vision and compassion are being pushed out of the field which is supposed to be helping people and are replaced by pariah who care only for themselves, lie, cheat, steal and steamroll their way through life.