Most of us would like to believe that we can spot a psychopath a mile off, but history has proven otherwise. The truth is, according to recent research on the subject, many of them exist within the higher echelons of society and we may even support their insanity. With the recent study showing that the US is an oligarchy, there is even more reason to watch out.
The more competitive an environment, the more that the ruthlessness of an individual seems to help them climb the ladder. Those who start out with the greatest of CEO intentions may find the dark side of their nature takes over when they are in positions where they may lose power, attention or wealth.
The story may be quite different in cooperative environments, something that exists in certain business sectors, but not others. There are many young people in the world who are approaching business from a much more cooperative standpoint and they want to believe that business can positively influence the future. They are proving that some of our better natures are the ones that can thrive in a world of cooperation.
Before that can happen we should be aware of where the psychopaths still reign and that there is indeed work to be done. What follows is a list of the predominant traits as determined by Dr Robert Hare who developed a psychopath test. If you know someone who possesses any of these traits it is not confirmation that they are a psychopath, but you may want to be careful before pledging lifetime allegiance to them.
10 They Don't Take Responsibility For Their Actions
We have all done something that we shouldn't have. We're talking about genuine mistakes that could definitely be pinned upon an action we took. Other times it is something that was out of our control, but due to our position of responsibility, we had to take the fall.
Then there are those who, even though they have been caught red-handed, refuse to take responsibility for what they have done and cast the finger of blame upon another. Some CEOs, despite knowing they are wrong, have used their exhaustive resources to lie their way to victory. Some have succeeded; thankfully, others have seen justice served. If you are able to take responsibility when the ship sinks with you at the helm, then you are probably not a psychopath.
9 They Manipulate Everyone To Get Their Way
Nobody likes to be manipulated, but it happens all to often at the hands of psychopaths, and we are very often unaware of it. In fact people will get quite defensive if you tell them that they have been manipulated.
Using their superior skills of manipulation, psychopaths are able to make people do things that would normally be beyond what their conscience would normally allow. They use guilt, coercive force and other methods of subjugation to get what they want. Even lovable Walt Disney was known for being a dictatorial boss who underpaid his staff.
A wholesome CEO will be willing to concede what their wishes are for the greater good of the many. If you allow people to be themselves, manage them with kindness and empower the use of their gifts and talents then you are probably not a psychopath.
8 They Have Superficial Charm
Psychopaths do not give praise or gifts to another out of a sense of goodwill and kindness. They give with the purpose of gaining your trust so that they can acquire something for themselves. They wear a mask that is intended to deceive, all smiles and laughter, none of it genuine.
A psychopath will be unwilling to pull away the mask in public, it will bring about their downfall. It takes honest evaluation for each of us to look within at the intentions behind our praise of others. Genuine praise is fine. Praise with the intention of getting something from another is not sincere. If you are good at sincere praise then you are probably not a psychopath.
7 They Are Impulsive
Psychopaths are impulsive; they do things on a whim and they don't think about the consequences to others. In business we need to be willing to take risks, but impulsive actions that are not intuitive or rational are further symptoms of the psychopathic mind.
If it is a choice that negatively affects the long-term goals of the company, the well being of people within the company, or those served by the company, it would be considered impulsive. Of course, if it turned out to be positive in each of the above situations it would probably be welcomed. If you are spontaneous and do what is right most of the time you are probably not a psychopath.
6 They Are Full Of Themselves
A healthy self-esteem is needed to get things done in our world. Arrogance and grandiosity, on the other hand, are turnoffs for most of us and yet many of flag bearers of grandiosity are given all the attention that they want. The psychopath believes that their charisma and coercive leadership is the cause of their success.
They seldom appreciates those who have played a part in their success and forms this identity around themselves that is largely delusional. If you are able to acknowledge and appreciate all those who have helped you get where you are, then you are probably not a psychopath.
5 They Need Excitement And Are Being Prone To Boredom
The psychopath always needs stimulation. They are not ok with silence and sitting down and doing nothing. We all need stimulation and some excitement in our life, and that is only an issue when the need for it is constant. Those who suffer from addiction problems need fun all the time and their drug of choice is the source of that fun.
There is little in the way of delayed gratification, it needs to be immediate, no matter what the consequences are to anybody else. This becomes a problem when CEOs, or mayors, are having fun at the expense of someone else. Rob Ford not only seems to need constant stimulation, he also lies quite regularly, another trait associated with psychopaths. If you consider how others are affected by your choices of fun, then you are probably not a psychopath.
4 They Lack Guilt Or Remorse
Even if you believe that guilt is a choice, one that doesn't help anyone, you probably experience it from time to time. A psychopath will experience very little in the way of guilt and will show very little remorse for anything they do that hurts another.
How did you react the last time you found out that your actions hurt another? If you felt guilt, at least enough to correct your actions in the future, then you are probably OK. If you don't know what guilt is, then the rest of us implore you to let go of your CEO aspirations.
3 They Lack Empathy
Empathy is the ability to feel the pain of another and even put yourself in their shoes. A psychopath is unable to do this, and in the face of another person's pain remains distinctly unfeeling.
Spock from Star Trek could be diagnosed with this psychopathic trait, but he also has a habit of doing the right thing and guiding others to do the sane. The same could not be said of some others in positions of power. If you are someone who is always aware of another persons feelings, or even putting them ahead of your own, then it is unlikely you have to worry about this psychopathic trait.
2 Their Goals Are Hugely Unrealistic
When you talk to the average person about their goals, they will have clarity about what they want to achieve and they will be aware of what needs to be done. The psychopath will have wholly unrealistic long-term goals or they will not have any at all. They have an overinflated idea of their abilities and their plan for getting there will border on ridiculous. But in their mind they will believe that it is possible and go for it any way.
Do you have long-term goals for yourself? Do you think that these goals stretch you sufficiently but are not unbelievable to you? If you are setting challenging, reasonable, and well-planned goals and strategies, then you are probably not a psychopath.
1 They Are Sexually Promiscuous
The line-up of leaders who would fall under this category are many. In recent years tabloids have been strewn with stories of politicians and people of power who engaged in relationships outside of their marriage, showing little or no remorse about their sexual promiscuity. And then there are the people who defend them, who keep their secrets, so that they can keep their jobs or their wealth.
It takes people of courage to stand up and speak when they see something untoward happen. Look at how difficult it was for people to speak up against former IMF boss Dominique Strauss Kahn.