boss a psychopath

Boss a psychopath - 13 it our BOSS a Psychopath‘ | Printer-friendly version 0(Wmmffjelupzie‘ Saws(761,4't-LPE’ WW Mufosis$ Is Your Boss a

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Unformatted text preview: 13 it our BOSS a Psychopath‘? | Printer-friendly version 0- (Wmmffjelupzie‘ Saws (761,4, 't-LPE’ WW: Mufosis$ Is Your Boss a Psychopath? Odds are you've run across one of these characters in your career. They're glib, charming, manipulative, deceitful, ruthless —- and very, very destructive. And there may be lots of them in America's corner offices. From: ,lssne 961 July 2005 _] Page 44 By: Alan Deutschman Illustrations by: wan—gwmmmaommmmu..~___m...w....m_.. __..............m....~ww._.......... Christian Northeast One of the most provocative ideas about business in this decade so far surfaced in a most unlikely place. The forum wasn't the Harvard Business School or one of those $4,000—a—head conferences where Silicon Valley's venture capitalists search for the next big thing. It was a convention of Canadian cops in the far-flung province of Newfoundland. The speaker, a 71-year—old professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia, remains virtually unknown in the business realm. But he's renowned in his own field: criminal psychology. Robert Hare is the creator of the Psychopathy Checklist. The 20—item personality evaluation has exerted enormous influence in its quarter-century history. It’s the standard tool for making clinical diagnoses of psychopaths ~- the 1% of the general population that isn't burdened b conscience. Psychopaths have a profound lack of empat y. my use 0 er peop e callously and remorselessly for their own ends. They seduce victims with a hypnotic charm that masks their true nature as pathological liars, master con artists, and heartless manipulators. Easily bored, they crave constant stimulation, so they seek thrills from real—life "games" they can ~' _‘in —— and take pleasure from their power over other people. On that August day in 2002, Hare gave a talk on psychopathy to about 150 police and law—enforcement officials. He was a legendary figure to that crowd. The FBI and the British justice system have long relied on his advice. He created the P-Scan, a test widely used by police departments to screen new recruits for psychopathy, and E13 fleas have inspired the testing of firefighters, teachers, and operators of nuclear power plants. According to the Canadian Press and Toronto Sun reporters who rescued the moment from obscurity, Hare began by talking about Mafia hit men and sex offenders, whose photos were projected on a large screen behind him. But then those images were replaced by pictures of top executives from WorldCom, which had just declared bankruptcy, and Enron, which imploded only months earlier. The securities frauds would eventually lead to long prison sentences for WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Enron CFO Andrew Fastow. "These are callous, cold-blooded individuals," Hare said. "They don't care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt or remorse." He talked about the pain and suffering the corporate rogues had inflicted on thousands of people who had lost their jobs, or their life's savings. Some of those victims would succumb to heart attacks or commit suicide, he said. Then Hare came out with a startling proposal. He said that the recent corporate scandals could have been prevented if CEOs were screened for psychopathic behavior. "Why wouldn't we want to screen them?" he { red. "We screen police officers, teachers. Why not people who are going to handle billions of dollars?" It's Hare's latest contribution to the public awareness of "corporate psychopathy." He appeared in the 2003 documentary The Corporation, giving authority to the film‘s premise that corporations are "sociopathic" (a synonym for "psychopathic") because they ruthlessly seek their own selfish interests -— "shareholder value" ~- http:f/pffastcompany.com/magazine/96/Openwboss.html 5/19/2006 Page tors ted-Hf v mrcisgt‘s'ir Z,- “Amid—+7"; 5413765? K he”) firm : EVIL— fieofie ~%‘w calf} "ti-1 E or“ icatj ‘ e‘d— C n QM a... a UL“. .uuoo a .L eyuiiupautr | fr triter~rr1ena1y VBISIOI'I Page 2 of 5 without regard for the harms they cause to others, such as environmental damage. Is Hare right? Are corporations fundamentally psychopathic organizations that attract similarly disposed people? It's a compelling idea, especially given the recent evidence. Such scandals as Enron and WorldCom aren't just aberrations; they represent what can happen when some basic currents in our business culture turn malignant. We're worshipful of top executives who seem charismatic, visionary, and tough. So long as they're lifting profits and stock prices, we're willing to overlook that they can also be callous, conning, manipulative, deceitful, verbally and psychologically abusive, remorseless, exploitative, self~delusional, irresponsible, and megalomaniacal. So we collude in the elevation of leaders who are sadly insensitive to hurting others and society at large. But wait, you say: Don't bona fide psychopaths become serial killers or other kinds of violent criminals, rather than the guys in the next cubicle or the corner office? That was the conventional wisdom. Indeed, Hare began his work by studying men in prison. Granted, that's still an unusually good place to look for the conscience- impaired. The average Psychopathy Checklist score for incarcerated male offenders in North America is 23.3, out of a possible 40. A score of around 20 Qualifies as "moderately psychopathic." Only 1% of the general population would score 30 or above, which is "hi hly s cho ath' " he ran e for the most violent offenders. WK On the broad continuum between the ethical everyman and the predatory killer, there's plenty of room for people who are ruthless but not violent. This is where you're likely to find such people as Ebbers, Fastow, ImClone CEO Sam Waksal, and hotelier Leona Helmsley. We put several bigmnarne CEOs through the checklist, and they scored as "moderately psychopathic"; our quiz on page 48 lets you try a similar exercise with your favorite boss. And this summer, together with New York industrial psychologist Paul Babiak, Hare begins marketing the B—Scan, a personality test that companies can use to spot job candidates who may have an MBA but lack a conscience. "I always said that if I wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, I'd do it at the stock tchange," Hare told Fast Company. "There are certainly more people in the business world who would score nigh in the psychopathic dimension than in the general population. You'll find them in any organization where, by the nature of one's position, you have power and control over other people and the opportunity to get something." - There's evidence that the business climate has become even more hospitable to psychopaths in recent years. In pioneering long-term studies of psychopaths in the workplace, Babiak focused on a half—dozen unnamed companies: One was a fast—growing high-tech firm, and the others were large multinationals undergoing dramatic organizational changes —— severe downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. That's just the sort of corporate tumult that has increasingly characterized the US. business landscape in the last couple of decades. And just as wars can produce exciting opportunities for murderous psychopaths to shine (think of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic), Babiak found that these organizational shake—ups created a welcoming environment for the corporate killer. “The psychopath has no difficulty dealing with the consequences of rapid change; in fact, he or she thrives on it," Babiak claims. "Organizational chaos provides both the necessary stimulation for psychopathic thrill seeking and sufficient cover for psychopathic manipulation and abusive behavior." And you can make a compelling case that the New Economy, with its rule—breakin g and rollerwcoaster results, is just dandy for folks with psychopathic traits too. A slowrmoving old—economy corporation would be too boring for a psychopath, who needs constant stimulation. Its rigid structures and processes and predictable ways might stymie his unethical soheming. But a charge~ahead New Economy maverick —- an Enron, for instance ~~ would seem the ideal place for this kind of operator. { how can we recognize psychopathic types? Hare has revised his Psychopathy Checklist (known as the PCL— R, or simply "the Hare") to make it easier to identify SO-Cfllled subcriminal or corporate psychopaths. He has broken down the 20 personality characteristics into two subsets, or "factors." Corporate psychopaths score high on Factor 1, the "selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others” category. It includes eight traits: glibness and http://pf.fastcompany.com/magazine/96/open_boss.html 5/19/2006 u i UuJ. uuan a reycnupauit I rriutcr~tr16nmy VEI‘SIOH Page 3 of 5 superficial charm; grandiose sense of self—worth; pathological lying; conning and manipulativeness; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect (i.e., a coldness covered up by dramatic emotional displays that are actually playacting); callousness and lack of empathy; and the failure to accept responsibility for one‘s own actions. Sound like anyone you know? (Corporate psychopaths score on 1y low to moderate on Factor 2, which pinpoints ichronically unstable, antisocial, and socially deviant lifestyle," the hallmarks of people who wind up in jail for rougher crimes than creative accounting.) This View is supported by research by psychologists Belinda B Surrey, who interviewed and gave personality tests to 39 hi h-level British executives and compared their profiles with those of criminals and psychiatric patients. The executives were even more likely to be superficially charming, egocen ric, instncere, and manipulative and 'ust as likel to be randiose, exploitative, Wmmmmfimht be called "successful psychopaths." In contrast, the criminals »- the "unsuccessful psy and physically aggressive. - W The Factor 1 psychopathic traits seem like the pi Manipulative? Louis B. Mayer was said to be a turn on the tears at will to evoke sympathy duri thugs to crush union organizers, deployed mac wife with his teenage personal assistant and th Lacking empathy? Hotel magnate Leona Hel employees allegedly for trivialities, like a m ascended to the top position at Gulf & West of the company‘s Manhattan skyscraper. Oil baron Armand Hammer laundered rn card and Katerina Fritzon at the University of chopaths" a- were more im ulsive aybook of many corporate power brokers through the decades. better actor than any of the stars he employed at MGM, able to ng salary negotiations with his actors. Callous? Henry Ford hired hine guns at his plants, and stockpiled tear gas. He cheated on his en had the younger woman marry his chauffeur as a cover. msley shouted profanities at and summarily fired hundreds of aid missing a piece of lint. Remorseless? Soon after Martin Davis em, a visitor asked why half the offices were empty on the top floor "Those were my enemies," Davis said. "I got rid of them." Deceitful? oney to pay for Soviet espionage. Grandiosity? Thy name is Trump. up separate partnerships, secretly run by himself, to engage in deals with Enron. The deals quickly made tens of millions of dollars for Fastow -~ and prettified Enron's financials in the short run by taking unwanted assets off its books. But they left Enron with time bombs that would ultimately cause the company’s total implosion —- and lose-shareholders billions. When Enron's scandals were exposed, Fastow pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to pay back nearly $24 million and serve 10 years in prison. "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap might score impressive] about a guy who didn't attend his own knives. She charged that he 1 divorce was granted on grou y on the corporate Psychopathy Checklist too. What do you say parents' funerals? He allegedly threatened his first wife with guns and eft her with no food and no access to their money while he was away for days. His nds of "extreme cruelty." That's the characteristic that endeared him to Wall Street, fired 11,000 workers at Scott Paper, then another 6,000 (half the labor force) at f, the very man who approved the handgun and do no sense economically, and Sunbeam's financial gains were really the result of Dunlap's alleged book cookin g. When he was finally exposed and booted, Dunlap had the nerve to demand severance pay and insist that the board reprice his stock options. Talk about failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions. I file knaves such as Fastow and Dunlap make the headlines, most horror stories of worl , (place psychopathy remain the stuff of frightened whispers. Insiders in the New York media business say the publisher of one of the nation's most famous magazines broke the nose of one of his female sales reps in the 19905. But he was considered so valuable to the organization that the incident didn’t impede his career. http://pf. fastcompany. comtmagazine/ 96/ Open_boss.html 5/19/2006 —_ - cw. muuu u. a uyvuuyuun I 1 LiuLCL'll'lCIlLuy versmn Page 4 of 5 Most criminals —- whether psychopathic or not -— are shaped by poverty and often childhood abuse as well. In contrast, corporate psychopaths typically grew up in stable, loving families that were middle class or affluent. But because they're pathological liars, they tell romanticized tales of rising from tough, impoverished backgrounds. Dunlap pretended that he grew up as the son of a laid—off dockworker; in truth, his father worked steadily and raised his family in suburban comfort. The corporate psychopaths whom Babiak studied all went to college, and a couple even had PhDs. Their ruthless pursuit of self—interest was more easily accomplished in the white-collar realm, which their backgrounds had groomed them for, rather than the criminal one, which comes with much lousier odds. Psychopaths succeed in conventional society in large measure because few of us grasp that they are fundamentally different from ourselves. We assume that they, too, care about other people's feelings. This makes it easier for them to "play" us. Although they lack empathy, they develop an actor's expertise in evoking ours. While they don‘t care, about us, "they have an element of emotional intelligence, of being able to see our emotions very clearly and manipulate them," says Michael Maccoby, a psychotherapist who has consulted for major corporations. Psychopaths are typically very likable. They make us believe that they reciprocate our loyalty and fn'endship. When we realize that they were conning us all along, we feel betrayed and foolish. "People see sociopathy in their personal lives, and they don't ave a c ue t at it has a la e ort a ct ers ave encountered it," says Martha Stout, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School and the author of the recent best—seller The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us (Broadway Books, 2005). "It makes them feel crazy or alone. It goes W" against our lI'ltUltIOIl that a small percentage of people can be so different from the rest of us -- and so evil. Good people don't want to believe it." Indeed, not every aberrant boss is necessarily a corporate psychopath. There's another personality that's often found in the executive suite: the narcissist. While many psychologists would call narcissism a disorder, this trait can be quite beneficial for top bosses, and it's certainly less pathological than psychopathy. Maccoby's book The Productive Narcissists The Promise and Perils of Visionary Leadership (Broadway Books, 2003) portrays the narcissistic CEO as a grandiose egotist who is on a mission to help humanity in the abstract even though he's often insensitive to the real people around him. Maccoby counts Apple‘s Steve Jobs, General Electric's Jack Welch, Intel's Andy Grove, Microsoft's Bill Gates, and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher as "product narcissists,” or PNs. Narcissists are visionaries who attract hordes of followers, which can make them excel as innovators, but they're poor listeners and they can be awfully touchy about criticism. "These people don't have much empathy," Maccoby says. "When Bill Gates tells someone, 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard,’ or Steve Jobs calls someone a bozo, they're not concerned about people‘s feelings. They see other people as a means toward their ends. But they do have a sense of changing the world -- in their eyes, improving the world. They build their own View of what the world should be and get others recruited to their vision. Psychopaths, in contrast, are only interested in self. " {Maccoby concedes that productive narcissists can become "drunk with power" and turn destructive. The trick, ’ "thinks, is to pair a productive narcissist with a "productive obsessive," or conscientious, control-minded manager. Think of Grove when he was matched with chief operating officer Craig Barrett, Gates with president Steve Ballmer, Kelleher with CO0 Colleen Barrett, and Oracle's Larry Ellison with COO Ray Lane and CFO Jeff Henley. In his remarkably successful second tour of duty at Apple, J' obs has been balanced by steady, http :f/pf.fastcompany.com/magazine/96/0pen_boss.html 5/1 9/2006 is t ULLI. purses a rsycnupauir j rrimer—Irrendly versron Page 5 of 5 competent behind~the~scenes players such as Timothy Cook, his executive vice president for sales and operations. But our culture's embrace of narcissism as the hallmark of admired business leaders is dangerous, Babiak lnaintains, since "individuals who are really psychopaths are often mistaken for narcissists and chosen by the organization for leadership positions." How does he distinguish the difference between the two types? "In the case of a narcissist, everything is me, me, me," Babiak explains. "With a psychopath, it's 'Is it thrilling, is it a game I can win, and does it hurt others?’ My belief is a psychopath enjoys hurting others.‘1 Intriguingly, Babiak believes that it's extremely unlikely for an entrepreneurial founder—CEO to be a corporate psychopath because the company is an extension of his own ego -— something he promotes rather than plunders. "The psychopath has no allegiance to the company at all, just to self," Babiak says. "A psychopath is playing a short—term parasitic game." That was the profile of Fastow and Dunlap -— guys out to profit for themselves without any concern for the companies and lives they were wrecking. In contrast, Jobs and Ellison want their own companies to thrive forever -— indeed, to dominate their industries and take over other fields as well. "An entrepreneurial founderuCEO might have a narcissistic tendency that looks like psychopathy," Babiak says. "But they have a vested interest: Their identity is wrapped up with the company's existence. They're ioyal to the company." So these types are ruthless not only for themselves but also for their companies, their extensions Of self. The issue is whether we will continue to elevate, celebrate, and reward so many executives who, however charismatic, remain indifferent to hurting other people. Babiak says that while the first line of defense against psychopaths in the workplace is screening job candidates, the second line is a "culture of openness and trust, especially when the company is undergoing intense, chaotic change." Europe is far ahead of the United States in trying to deal with psychological abuse and manipulation at work. the "antibullying" movement in Europe has produced new laws in France and Sweden. Harvard's Stout ' ' suggests that the relentlessly individualistic culture of the United States contributes a lotto our problems. She points out that psychopathy has a dramatically lower incidence in certain Asian cultures, where the heritage has emphasized community bonds rather than glorified self—interest. "If we continue to go this way in our Western ' culture," she says, "evolutionarily speaking, it doesn't end well." The good news is that we can do something about corporate psychopaths. Scientific consensus says that only about 50% of personality is influenced by genetics, so psychopaths are molded by our culture just as much as they are born among us. But unless American business makes a dramatic shift, we'll get more Enrons -- and deserve them. ' Alan Deutschman is a Fast Company senior writer based in San Francisco. «1: Copyright © 2005 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Fast Company, 375 Lexington Avenue.,New York , NY 10017 http://pf. fastcompany.com/magazine/Qé/open_boss.html 5/ 19/2006 ,3 The standard clinical test for psychopathy, Robert Here’s POL-Fl, evaluates 20 personality l traits overall. but a subset of eight traits defines what he calls the "corporate psychopath“—- the nonviolent person prone to the "selfish, callous. and remorseless use of others." Does ; your loose fit the profile? Here’s our do~it~yourself quiz drawing on the test manual and ; Hate's book Without Conscience. (Disclaimer: if you’re not a psychologist or psychiatrist, ,- this will he a strictly amateur exercise.) We've used the pronoun "he," but research suggests I; psychologists have underestimated the psychopathic propensity of women. For each question, score two points for "yes." one point for “somewhat” or “maybe,” and zero -. - points for “no.” I l E E. he SD. El~~ he can weasel out of it? Does he enjoy i never ask about the details of your his or hcially charming. a lying? Is he proud of his lcnaclc for deceit? your emotional state? Is he one of those Is he a likable personality and a terrific 5 Is it hard to tell whether he knows he’s a t tough-guy executives who brag about taflcer—entertahuing, persuasive, but liar or Whether he deceives himself and l how emotions are for whiners and losers? maybe a bit too smooth and slick? Can he believes his cum bull? pass bhnseli off as a supposed expert in a g SGDRE_ business meeting even Though he really IS he callous doesn‘t lmow much about the topic? 'l‘s'he g % » IS llf.‘ El. con artist 01' l l laClClIig' empathy? a flatterer? Seductive, but insincere? Does - - master manipulator? Does he not give a damn about the feel- he tell amusing but unlikely anecdotes Does he use his slo'll at lying to cheat or F| ings or well-being of other people? Is be celebrating his own past? Can he per— manipulate other people in his quest for profoundly selfish? Does he cruelly mock suede his colleagues to support a certain i money, power, status, and sex? Does he others? Is he emotionally or verbally abu- l l I l i position this week—and then argue with ‘ “use” people brilliantly? Does he engage ] sive toward employees, “friends,” and 3 equal conviction and persuasiveness for {: in dishonest schemes such as cooking l family members? Can be hire employees the opposite position next week? If he’ s a the books? without concern for how they’ll get by CEO, can he appear on TV and. somehow SGGRE__ without the job? Can he profit from get away without answm‘ng the inter— l - l embezzlement or stock fraud without viewer‘s direct questions or saying any i a. When he harms concern for the harm he’s doing to share» thing truly substantive? ' other people, does he holders or pensioners who need their SGDRE__ j feel a lack of remorse or guilt? Is be con— savings to pay for their retirements? corned about himself rather than the E DOCS he have 3. 5 wreckage he inflicts on others or society grandiose sense of at large? Does he say he feels bad but act ; E 8 Does he. to accept self—worth? Does he brag? Is he arrogant? as though he really doesn’t? Even if he - l‘CSpOIl-‘Slblllly scene“ 7 Superior? Domineering? Does he feel he‘s i has been convicted of a whirls-collar for his own actions? Does he always cook above the rules that apply to "little people"? crime, such as securities fraud, does he 3 up some excuse? Does he blame others Does he act as though everything revolves . not accept blame for what he did, even for what he’s done? if he's under investi around him? Does he downplay his legal, .- after getting out of prison? Does he blame , gotten or on trial for a. corporate crimr, financial, or personal problems, say the-yrs = others for the trouble he causes? like deceitful accounting or stock fraud, just temporary, or blame them on others? ; SGflRI‘.__ . I, does he refuse to acknowledge wrongdo- 50033... , ' 5 ing even when the hard evidence is _ _ I - Does he have a shal~ stacked against him? a: Is he a pathological F l i low affect? Is he cold scosa_ t- l E‘ liar? Has he reinvented his ‘ and detached, evon when someone near ' TOTAL own past in a more positive light—for : him dies, surfers, or falls seriously ill—Eur _______________________________________ ._- example, claiming that he rose from a _ example, does he visit the hospital or 5 If yum. busa snares: tough, poor background evon though he A attend the funeral? Does he make brief, ' really grew up middle class? Does he lie dramatic displays of emotion that are l—4 .... .. Ba frustrated l bitually even though he can easily be nothing more than putting on a theatrical 5-7 .... .. Becautious round out? When he‘s exposed, does he mask and playaeting for effect? Does he 8—12 Be afraid still set unconcerned because he thinks claim to be your friend but rarely or iB—fB Be very afraid 48‘ FAST chI‘flHV July 2005 uoplng With t’sycliopaths (q), Work [ Printer~triendiy version eerPANY Coping With Psychopaths @ Work Tips from Martha Stout, author of The Socioparh Next Door. Page 1 of1 From: issneilél July 2005 l Page 51 By: huh—m...“ M ~~W.-.—.mm_.~m...._..m...__.—.w- H... .. ~— w M grain of salt. Just because someone is older, has a higher position or more are does not mean his or her moral judgment is better than yours. [3] Always question authority when it conflicts with your own sense of ri ght and wrong. This may be hard to do, but it is crucial to your own career and well-being. ' [4] Never agree to help a psychopath conceal his or her suspicious activities at work. If you are afraid of your boss, never confuse this feeling with respect. well is the best revenge. it . . Copyright © 2005 Mansueto Ventures LLC. Ali rights reserved. Fast Company, 375 Lexington Avenue..New York , NY 10017 http://pf. fastoompany.corn/magazine/96/open_boss—tasttalce.html 5/19/2006 ...
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Boss a psychopath - 13 it our BOSS a Psychopath‘ | Printer-friendly version 0(Wmmffjelupzie‘ Saws(761,4't-LPE’ WW Mufosis$ Is Your Boss a

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