The data has confirmed all of our suspicions: one in five chief executives are psychopaths. At least, thatâ€™s what was found by a recent study of 261 senior corporate professionals in the United States.
What exactly is a psychopath? Websterâ€™s Dictionary defines the condition as â€œa person who is mentally ill, who does not care about other people, and who is usually dangerous or violent and affected with antisocial personality disorder.â€ Yeah, that pretty much describes me on some daysâ€¦and my entire client base most of the time!
â€œTypically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other,â€ Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist and the lead researcher of the study said in this report from The Telegraph. â€œFor psychopaths, it [corporate success] is a game and they donâ€™t mind if they violate morals. It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others.â€
Brooks blames bad screening practices during the hiring process.
By the way â€“ psychopathic behavior in the general population is about one in a 100.Â Whatâ€™s a little disturbing in this study is that not only are 21 percent of corporate executives psychopathic, but so is the same percentage of prison inmates.
Also disturbing: this isnâ€™t the first time researchers have noted psychopathic tendencies among senior executives. In research also reported by The Telegraph a few years ago, a psychologist warned of a growing number of â€œtriadic personsâ€ in the workplace who combine three types of dysfunctional personalities among white-collar workers: psychopath, Machiavellian, and narcissist. Such people, he warned â€œhave a dangerous, yet effective mix of a lack of empathy, self-centeredness, deviousness and self-regard which can propel them to the top of the organizations.â€
The good news?Â I thought the number would have been higher.