Corporate Psychopaths

Raquel and I regularly watch this weekly science show on ABC (Australian TV Network) called The Catalyst. The show would have one to five segments on different science-related topics. Think of it as 60 Minutes but about science only.

Last night, there was a segment on The Catalyst titled Corporate Psychopaths (click to see the segment’s transcript). Psychologist and criminal profiler Dr John Clarke described a corporate psychopath:

There are 20 characteristics to define a psychopath. Really the fundamental factor is an absolute lack of remorse or guilt for their behaviour, pathological lying, manipulative, callous, egotistical, very kind of self centred individual, glib and superficial charm…
They steal other people’s work. They spread rumours about people, character assassination. A range of different strategies they will use to move up through the company.

He could’ve just described the corporate psychopath as EVIL, I thought. Anyway, in a company we used to worked for, we knew of somebody who actually fit Dr Clarke’s description to a tee. We labeled him as “ahas” (snake) because he was such a snake in the grass. We didn’t realise there was a more sinister label. Was he really a corporate psychopath?

On the show, they had this short quiz to determine if your boss (or somebody you’re working with) was what could be called a corporate psychopath.

Corporate Psychopath Test (Click here for the actual quiz.)
1. Does your boss come across as smooth, polished and charming?
2. Has your boss ever taken credit for work you or someone else has done?
3. Is your boss prepared to do whatever it takes to get what they want – regardless of the cost to other people?
4. Does your boss enjoy being feared by you?
5. Is your boss opportunistic, ruthless…hating to lose and playing to win?
6. Does your boss consider people they’ve outsmarted as dumb or stupid?

I couldn’t really be absolutely certain if he was a corporate psychopath based on the questions on the quiz because, honestly, I don’t know what he’s thinking. But if I go by Dr Clarke’s description, then I’d say he’s pretty close to being one.

The scary part of the segment was that there is a chance that being a corporate psychopath could be inborn and couldn’t be fixed even with proper upbringing. That meant that if I have a child that has this deficit, no matter how much I raise the child properly, he/she could still grow up to be a corporate psychopath: a non-caring, without remorse, manipulative person. I truly hope that this deficit isn’t inborn. Otherwise, there is a small chance (0.5% for females, 2% for males) any of us could have an inately evil child!

So, could you actually be working with/for a corporate psychopath? Maybe. At least, now you know that such a person could exist in your workplace. Be sure to read the entire transcript of the segment for more details.

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Published in: on May 6, 2005 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment