The corporate psychopath, also called sociopath or anti-social personality, is able to hide in plain sight. His brain is wired in the exact same way as those of the serial killer or armed robber.
Yet corporations today shower him with adoration and reward. The psychopath is able to manipulate those around him into believing in his charm and ‘talent’. He lies and deceives and leaves financial destruction and immeasurable human suffering in his wake. And he is never held accountable.
Characteristics of psychopaths:
- They do not tell the truth and cannot be trusted to carry out any task or adhere to any conventional standard of morality.
- In prison populations the prevalence of psychopaths may be as high as 75 percent.
- Psychopaths are highly represented by so-called con-men.
- A notable finding is a lack of remorse for those actions; that is, these patients appear to lack a conscience.
- Once a psychopathic personality disorder develops, it runs an unremitting course.
- Patients with a psychopathic personality disorder often present a normal and even a charming and ingratiating exterior.
- They are highly manipulative.
- As mentioned, the patients may appear composed and credible in the interview.
In the world of the business organisation it is most important to note that although psychopaths are poor work performers research showed that they are most always able to convince leadership to promote them into ever higher positions.
A psychopath’s disruption of a team, his bullying, and back-stabbing costs the organisation lots of money. Lots of sick leave taken, low morale and high staff turnover are all signs that there is a psychopath at work.
The saddest thing to see is how the psychopath manages to get talented people to start doubting themselves.
Attempts to then coach, manage, and motivate your team are expensive, time-consuming and very often futile. I believe that the extremely low success rate in the implementation of strategic management projects is due to the fact that the existence of psychopaths in the organisation is not taken into account.
As painful as it is to admit; we have to realise that we have all been conned. Simply because we believe a number of myths about psychopaths.
Some myths about psychopaths:
- Psychopaths have no emotions. False!
- Psychopaths perform better. False!
- Psychopaths will make us rich. False!
- Psychopaths have courage. False!
- Psychopaths make strong leaders. False!
- Psychopaths are more intelligent. False!
- Psychopaths are strategic thinkers. False!
- Psychopaths can be rehabilitated. False!
- Some psychopathic traits are good. False!
What can be done?
- Never be naïve. The psychopath problem is real.
- Do not just believe everything you hear or read. Investigate. Make sure for yourself.
- Do not blame yourself. “It is not you, it is him”.
- Do not play the psychopath’s game. You will lose.
- Keep a paper trail. Record everything in writing. Document what happens, when.
- Get help. Business organisations, your network, friends and professionals such as attorneys, psychologists and computer forensic experts can all make a contribution.
- Minimise contact with the psychopath. Do not waste your time thinking you can “talk things through”. It is foolish to believe that you will be able to change his behaviour. Decades of research proved that not even experts are able to do so. [The only thing that happened was that the psychopath patients became better at lying, increasingly telling the therapist what the therapist wanted to hear.] In fact it is not even a good idea to be alone in a room with a psychopath.
- Increase your personal security and vigilance. Lock your computer screen when you step away from your desk. Do not leave your cell phone lying around unattended. This guy will go through your handbag in your absence. Getting drunk at the office party has never been a good idea; in the presence of a psychopath it is career suicide.
- Treat everyone equally. This means applying the rules to everyone. The psychopath is forever trying to establish to be treated as an exception when it comes to the rules.
- Have the courage to do the right thing. Stand for ethics and the Rule of Law.
You have been warned: He is only in it for himself.
More about Albert Marais
Albert Alexander MARAIS has been practising as an attorney since 2014. His practice, located in the heart of the Sandton Central Business District, focuses on business law, cyber law and family law. Albert’s academic qualifications are a BA in Politics, B.Proc, MBA (with distinctions in 5 subjects), and a Diploma in Treasury Management & International Trade Finance.
Before entering private practice he was an exchange control investigator in the Financial Surveillance Department of the South African Reserve Bank.
He also served as an expert adviser on the subject of “the Fiscal & Financial Sustainability of the State’s Wage Bill” to the Presidential Remuneration Review Commission.
Albert wrote a book on preventing the recruitment of psychopaths, titled “He is perfect; don’t hire him”.
Leading a purposeful life he has also been employed in law enforcement, crime intelligence, banking and freight & logistics. It is said that over the years he has lost many friends but he has never lost an argument.