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…and do we need psychopaths for company survival?
Psychopaths are drawn to and thrive in roles where people need the ability to make “objective, clinical decisions divorced from feelings”, the Business Insider reported. By Dr. Celeste Fabrie
What is a Psychopath?
"Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret. Their bewildered victims desperately ask, 'Who are these people?'" We often think of psychopaths as the disturbed criminals who capture headlines and crowd the nation's prisons. But not all psychopaths are killers. They are more likely to be men and women you know who move through life with supreme self-confidence -- but without a conscience. "What makes them the way they are? How can we protect ourselves?" -- Robert D Hare, "Without Conscience"
The Human Capital and Management Library says: "High-functioning psychopaths...tend to rule the world. They rise to the highest levels of power in politics and business." They are smooth, charming and persuasive. Sometimes they project an image of caring. Sometimes they shy away from the spotlight. But the only thing they are really interested in is power. Dr David Mashburn says "high-functioning psychopaths can be very successful. They appear to be confident and calm and seem to have their act together. The defining characteristic is that they are insatiable liars and skilled manipulators." It's appropriate that we should be thinking about this right now because we are in a year where much of the leadership of the world will be changing gears. We can sense it in the air.
Significantly, it's happening in the two most powerful countries in the world. China has already selected its next president.. Elections, uprisings and threats of removals are also happening from Syria to France and from Russia to Mali. Politicians are not in this for the altruistic ideals they espouse. The political aphrodisiac is power. It is the ability to stride with kings and presidents, and the sure knowledge that your opinions will be listened to and acted upon.
And before we laugh, it is no different in business. In a recent piece of research, Clive Brody at Nottingham Trent University referred to the "corporate psychopaths" who caused the economic crisis because of "their lack of conscience... and their inability to have any feelings, empathy or sympathy for people". The other expert in psychopathy is Canadian Robert Hare, who found that a significant percentage of business leaders display "definite signs of being psychopaths". The extraordinary thing is that it is the very qualities that make people attractive to us as forceful, strong leaders that often conceal the worst parts of their personalities. So, in business as in politics, watch out for the suave manipulator who makes all those promises, and look again at what Jim Collins, author of Good to Great calls the "level five" leader: the outstanding one who will do an excellent job and who is usually an introvert, the one who shies away from the limelight.
Dutton claims the professions that seem to have the most psychopaths are: 1. Chief executive officer 2. Lawyer 3. Media (Television/Radio) 4. Salesperson 5. Surgeon 6. Journalist 7. Police officer 8. Clergy person 9. Chef 10. Civil servant Dutton also lists the following professions as least attractive to psychopaths: 1. Care aide 2. Nurse 3. Therapist 4. Craftsperson 5. Beautician or stylist 6. Charity worker7. Teacher 8. Creative artist 9. Doctor 10. Accountant
According to the authors: Babiak and Hare, the corporate worlds (any organization run like corporations), are increasingly “target-rich” environments for psychopaths for four basic reasons: 1) Some core psychopathic personality traits (“talents”) may seem attractive in job applicants and get them hired; traits such as: assertiveness; ability to appear genuine when faking sincerity and honesty; ability to quickly assess vulnerabilities of people and manipulate them; shallow affect; take-charge narcissism; and expertise manipulating through schmoozing and networking; etc.; 2) Superficial notions of effective management and “leadership” (focus on hierarchy; taking charge; exercise of top-down power and decision-making but with avoidance of accountability; etc.) play right into the hands of psychopaths. Typical proclivities for megalomania, malignant narcissism, manipulation, intrigue and using/treating people as mere useful objects or instruments, may appear, to those themselves not real managers or leaders, or even to fellow psychopaths, as “decisive management”; and even “leadership”. Either like attracts like, or, those lacking substance, typically, are not willing to select for substance even if they could recognize it.
3) The changing nature and structures of businesses often favour psychopaths. As businesses become less hierarchical, more lean, more complex and more flat, and as businesses have to become increasingly flexible and agile, the devolution of power and accountability—or at least accountability—to what were “lower” levels of corporations, then, in such contexts, the “take charge”, ruthless, demanding, manipulative and apparently “results-oriented” managers, often psychopaths, appear increasingly attractive to those at the top who want power and perks but not proportionate accountability on themselves. What appear to be “take -charge”, as well as “take-theheat” types, sometimes psychopaths, appear to be perfect for those at the very top who want power and perks but not accountability. Of course, psychopaths typically do the same to those below them. 4) In the context of increasingly lean, complex and agile businesses and other institutions, the types of individuals who are willing to ignore “cumbersome” and “constraining” rules, laws, best practices in management, and, are ruthless and devoid of empathy, coupled with abilities to con and manipulate as well as “direct”, may be attractive in some fast-paced and ultra-competitive organizations. As Plato, one of the first recorded analysts of psychopathy (along with Lao-tze) put it: "Those who seek power are invariably the least fit to hold and wield it." Plato understood, perhaps instinctively, or perhaps from examples around him, that those who would self-anoint, self-proclaim, self-credential themselves as "leaders", to be parachuted "down" on and over, those they purport to "lead", demonstrate a certain level of hubris, absolute certainly, malignant narcissism and megalomania that is breathtaking and extremely dangerous. As an old Chinese aphorism goes: "Power is something a good person will not seek, and a bad person should not have." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmUXp_zE14E
“Corporation: an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce
What is an Alpha male? Does an Alpha male have similar psychopathic characteristics?
In the Alpha Male Syndrome, Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson tell us that alpha males “are aggressive, results-driven achievers who insist on top performance from themselves and others.” At the extreme, “alpha anger is explosive, alpha competitiveness is ruthless, and alpha aggressiveness and urgency is in the red zone.” Former Disney chief Michael Eisner is a classic alpha male as is Chainsaw Al Dunlap, who was famous for his ruthless cost-cutting. Importantly, Ludeman and Erlandson continue, “the alpha male drive for dominance that once assured the survival of t he toughest has become increasingly maladaptive. In an environment where brains count a whole lot more than brawn, a physical pipsqueak can be a giant.” The co-authors endorse a more feminine style of leadership, noting that “female managers tend to be perceived as more consultative and inclusive, whereas men are more directive and task oriented.”
Similarly, in the Harvard Business Review article, “Leadership Run Amok: The Destructive Potential of Overachievers,” Scott W. Spreier, Mary H. Fontaine and Ruth L. Malloy explain how overachievers “command and coerce rather than coach and collaborate, thus stifling subordinates.” Overachievers are so bent on getting results that they cut corners, keep their plans to themselves and run roughshod over anyone who opposes them. Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There covers similar territory. He coaches executives on how to stop 20 bad habits such as never apologizing or thanking people, taking all the credit, interrupting rather than listening and, generally, needing too strongly to be right. Explaining why he put the excessive need to win at the top of his list of bad habits, Goldsmith states: “Winning too much is easily the most common behavioral problem that I observe in successful people.” He adds that the need to win is the core issue, because “it underlies nearly every other behavioral problem.”
Becoming an alpha male is one of the highest achievements a man can ever have. It’s not just about learning how to be smooth with the ladies (but that’s also part of it), there is so much more to the Alpha male lifestyle. It’s all about living a life full of fulfillment and self-actualization. An alpha male lives inside all men; it’s what makes us manly as men. It’s the Big Difference between us and the ladies. And women love it! They find it so irresistible. It’s what really attracts them to men. A woman will say she wants a man who buys her flowers and listens to her stories and cares and bla bla bla (all that sissy stuff) but at the end of the day she will fall for the alpha male (Usually found in bad boys) and break all her rules. This is because for women attraction is not in the head; it’s in the heart. It’s how they are wired – To fall for Alpha Males – And they can’t help it. This is why you want to become an alpha male. But does been an Alpha Male mean we are also psychopathic?
Here are the 25 Traits of an Alpha male:
1. An Alpha male is very comfortable with himself. He always radiates confidence. He does not fear anyone; he does not really care how people think of him. Confidence is him. He knows he is more important than anyone else in his life. 2. Is very passionate in life. He knows what he loves to do and follows his dreams. A true Alpha male has goals and ambitions, and really high ones. He follows these to the ultimate end, and ends up living a fulfilled life. (And women love passionate men with ambition. They see these kinds of men becoming very successful in life and in their subconscious minds this is a qualifying factor in choosing a mate that will be able to provide for their future kids.) 3. Failure is only a minor setback for a real Alpha Male. Its only part of the process, he is learning. He is moving. He will always bounce back from failure, learn from the experience and move ahead with life. Nothing holds him back; after all, he is the Alpha male. Nothing can put him down. This is how he overcomes the challenges in his life. 4. He is always composed. An alpha male never loses composure; he is always himself, thoughtful and calculated. He won’t be carried away in emotional spasms. 5. Driven. A real Alpha male is very self- driven and self-disciplined. Once he decides his target, all his attention will be at achieving his goal. He will do everything persistently to achieve what he wants. This is also why Alpha males drive women crazy, they are men of their own, they don’t need to be told what they should do. Women prefer men who make the decisions. 6. High morals and values. A true Alpha male is not what we will call a ‘loose’ man. He has high moral principles. He is not abusive or arrogant and does not look down upon others. Many people confuse Alpha males and Bullies. But generally, while bullies are very aggressive on the outside, alpha males are very calm, calculated and controlled people. 7. An Alpha male is a natural leader. He is always looked up upon to provide direction when needed. 8. An Alpha male is a Problem Solver. In a company or organization, he will always be put in a challenging position and because of this; he will be highly regarded and compensated. He will always be the best at what he does. 9. Dress- Code- Smart. Not that he really cares what anyone thinks of how he dresses; that is not very important to him. But he still dresses the best way possible, always. It’s just part of his nature, after all, he wants the best in life! He doesn’t have to but he knows he should. 10. He believes in growth. He knows that change is an internal process and takes time. He does not blame anyone for his mistakes because he knows that he has the power to make his life better and become a better man. Life for him is all about constant growth. This is the real essence of a man living a life of purpose. Every successful man in history knew this. That life is learning process. It is only an arrogant person who thinks they know it all. Humble yourself and learn! 11. With women he always poses a challenge. No, he is not chosen by women, he CHOOSES them! He does not throw himself at women and start acting needy with women. For him it’s the other way round. They really have to impress him and earn his attention. 10
12. A True Alpha male is not bossy. Not at all. He likes to listen to others’ opinions. If he is in a position of leadership he will let everyone share their thoughts and collectively find the solution. That’s why his co- workers love him! His team always wins. 13. He is not afraid to face his faults or admit when he is wrong. For a real Alpha male, there is nothing wrong with admitting when he has done something wrong. Its all about moving on with life, finding a solution, moving forward. If he wronged someone, he will politely admit and apologize, without making a big deal out of it, then move on to the next best thing. 14. He does not have to prove himself. An alpha male is being of very high self-esteem, he does not need anyone’s approval to make him feel better about himself. 15. Alpha males are very clever, smart and cunning people. He’s got a real keen mind. He will assess situations and find the best logical solutions. In business alpha males do very well, their analytical skill and keen mind goes a long way. 16. Dominant, not aggressive, Alpha males also possess superior social skills. 17. Social behaviour – Hang out mostly with other alpha males. A true Alpha male finds the most value in hanging out with others like him. He also finds growth in doing this by learning from others who are better than him at one thing or another. That is why he never fails in life, he surrounds himself with people who are either like him or better achieved than him. Those are his company. 18. Physically fit. Alpha males are into healthy living and proper eating. They work out regularly; this also helps them become more focused on their goals and ambitions. This is why most Alpha’s are well built and all masculine. 19. Optimistic. Alpha males will always see the positive side of things and make the best out of what they have. A true Alpha male knows that in every problem there lies therein an opportunity. They just have to find it. Body Language 20. Alpha males talk slowly. They never rush things, they are always in control. They have a way of having their audience eat at their every word. They know they are important and when they talk they command this importance. 21. They walk slowly, not lazily. There is a difference. Alpha males are very controlled people. They are not always in a rush like everyone else. An Alpha male will be very disciplined to be on time or earlier for a meeting and well prepared. He will therefore have enough time to observe and think through his strategy. 22. Really Good Communicators. The alpha male is a great communicator both verbal and nonverbal. He shows his feelings through positive body language and is not afraid to show his sexual side. Women love this too – Men who are not wussies at flirting and showing their sexuality. It is not about telling a woman that you love her. It’s about expressing it in body Language and letting her read it with her subconscious mind.
23. Witty. Alpha males have a high sense of humor; they always live on the fun side of life. It’s never always too serious for them. 24. Alpha males know that they are important. When you call them (unlike Beta Males) they will take their time to turn their head and focus on you . You always have to prove worthy of their attention. 25. Alpha males Demonstrate Strength. The kind of strength that will make a woman believe that she is safe with him and that he can protect her when it comes to that. Women are generally the weaker sex, and always look for comfort in Alpha males; men who are dominant.
The question is: Do we need psychopaths for company survival?
If Dutton's sources are to be believed, then yes, we as a society couldn't survive without them. Dutton describes psychopaths as brilliant, calculating, often highly intelligent people, who feel no emotion and don't even understand what an emotion is or why non-psychopaths feel them. "I think every society needs particular individuals to do its dirty work for it," says Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford. Dutton, who's is also a research scientist at the same university further emphasizes the psychopath as; "Someone who isn't afraid to make tough decisions. Ask uncomfortable questions. Put themselves on the line. And a lot of time those individuals, by the very nature of the work that they're asked to do, aren't necessarily going to be the kind of people who you'd want to sit down and have afternoon tea with." And it seems Dunbar isn't alone in his hypothesis. Psychopaths account for one to two percent of the general population, suggesting they can't all be bad, according to an article that bioethicist George Dvorsky wrote for io9. “Clearly, given that nearly 2 in every 100 persons is a psychopath, they can't all be bad — otherwise society would have completely imploded by now," according to Dvorsky. In an interview with Smithsonian.com, Dutton stressed his belief that psychopathy, in the right doses, is actually a good thing for society. „Psychopaths are assertive. Psychopaths don’t procrastinate. Psychopaths tend to focus on the positive. Psychopaths don’t take things personally; they don’t beat themselves up if things go wrong, even if they’re to blame. And they’re pretty cool under pressure. Those kinds of characteristics aren’t just important in the business arena, but also in everyday life." 14
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