Introduction to Predatory Leadership By Matt Kramer This work evolved from the question “what can we do to make the

world a better place?” Additional questions – what makes it worse? Are the destructive factors applied consciously or unconsciously? How much of the problem results from acts, policies or decisions generated with the intention or knowledge that someone will suffer as a consequence? What appears to be lacking in public dialogue is an understanding of the nature of those who cause harm in the world. I do believe that most people are good. I used to believe that within even the most evil was a spark of goodness that could be tapped to create a transformation from evil to good. Now, older and wiser, I see that often what appears to us to be the greatest evil is truly not evil in the minds of those who actions cause harm to others. In their minds, they are the victims; those they hurt asked for it: “You made me do it.” I am a mediator, a student of people and stories. While I have taken a course in couple’s therapy at UCLA, I am not a psychologist. I am seeking people with expertise to expand, verify or correct, and help bring this conversation into the public forum. Below is a cobbling of ideas – I have yet to organize them into a cohesive and accessible order. It is easy for me to go in any number of directions in expanding this theory – that the psychological makeup of a few (4% according to Martha Stout – The Sociopath Next Door) has had a hugely destructive impact upon humanity. I do not believe that violence is man’s default behavior. I believe that with some study, we can create new ways to understand the nature of leadership, how the worst people are able to become our leaders (in all arenas) and how to create the kind of change that could transform society into a truly nurturing environment for all. At best, such a change will take at least two or three generations – our human desire for instant gratification is one of the obstacles to achieving that goal. I hope the following is of interest. Matt

Preamble – I have been told that I lack a succinct theory describing the paradigm resulting from the rule of predatory leaders. I’m starting with an attempt to define the theory. Theory of Predatory Leadership – While it is generally taken for granted that the degree of violence and corruption experienced in the world today is a

logical result of man’s nature, in reality, it is the nature of a very small segment of the population – the predatory leader - that is the source and driving force of events, policies and conditions that cause harm to others. The psychological (and possibly physiological) makeup of the perpetrators is measurably different than that of the general population. Over thousands of years evolution has been impacted to the extent that in government, military, religious and other organizations, perpetrators and victims to collude in conscious and subconscious ways resulting in the complicated nature of today’s status quo – a condition in which most people are passive and apathetic when it comes to engaging in making changes outside of their immediate sphere of influence. A metaphoric example in nature is the the parasitic wasp Glyptapanteles which turns its host into a suicidal body guard. ( ) Those who do work to make a difference are divided into two camps. One group is comprised of the predators and parasites who exploit the resources and efforts of humanity without any regard to the consequences; the other is defined by the work of those who seek to heal the damage and improve the conditions within which we all live.

I recently received a reply to my writing from a therapist who, in general, supports my sentiments. However, in reading the original article below, she said she couldn’t identify my theory. That tells me I have a lot of work to do to get this idea into a presentable shape that will make it more accessible to readers. This is one of the areas where I am seeking help. After reading her response, I went to Google and asked the question: What is a theory? From one of the websites, I gleaned the following: One sentence description: a theory is a tested and testable concept which is used to explain an occurrence. Or, from the same site: an explanation or thought which was based on observation and testing. With those thoughts in mind, I wrote this first section to serve as an introduction to the theory of predatory leadership. As a student of the world, I have often observed a repeating occurrence: people in positions of power initiating actions and policies that result in great harm to large numbers of people and to the environment. I have a theory that, if proven, could explain how these people are different than the majority of the population and how they are able to prevail to the extent that their actions appear to be widely condoned, often without question, until the consequences of their arrogance is so egregious that people finally rise up against them.

My hope is that when this theory is defined, widely understood and accepted, it can form the basis of dialogue and strategy for preventing “toxic” or “predatory” people from gaining such power while at the same time, establishing systems to identify and encourage capable people of a conscious and compassionate nature to earn positions of leadership necessary to support and maintain a peaceful and nurturing society. I also believe that such a theory can be used to create standards by which the actions of such people (and the organizations they rule) can be publically assessed and recognized for the damage they cause. At this point, I call this a theory of Predatory Leadership. My theory is that many people in positions of power were able to attain those positions because, possessed with an abusive or sociopathic personality, a combination of determination and drive, and exceptional expertise in exploiting and manipulating human nature, they were able to out compete (or eliminate) any competition that stood in the way of their goal. One reason they prevail is that, as predators on their way up the ladder, they are able to convince many of their followers that they are acting selflessly on their behalf when, in reality, they see their followers and others as a resource to be used, mined and exploited with truly no concern for their welfare. When they obtain control of the army, the reins of the corporation, the top position in their church or religion, etc., their position may be such that they have to maintain an outer façade of concern, or they may control such powerful forces that they can openly act on their agenda. One of the reasons this condition is repeated is that outside of a few academicians, few understand the elements involved and can see the overall and complex picture. Some of the elements include: <>-<> A public lack of understanding of the nature and behavior of the abusive or sociopathic mind. (As with squares and rectangles, I believe there are commonalities and differences between abusers and sociopaths.) <>-<> Akin to the medical profession prior to the discovery of microbes, a complete lack of awareness of how such personalities have formed, shaped and infected all facets of society since early history. (It is my hope that this theory or something like it can become the microscope through which humanity can finally recognize and understand the infectious nature of their predators.) <>-<> A desire on the part of the average person to want someone else to be in charge, someone to take care of them, etc. As a result they are more open to accepting the outright lies of their leaders. When a sociopath says to his constituents, “Your problems are the fault of those ‘others’ and when I get rid of

them for you, your world will be all right”, enough people support and believe the leader to the extent that dissenting voices are easily marginalized or eliminated. <>-<> An ability to create confusing environments in which truth is obscured and false premises are accepted as truth. Prologue "It is too difficult too judge us . . . because what we did goes beyond human imagination." Jean Hatzfeld (excerpt from an interview with a perpetrator of the Rwandan genocide) * * * There are wonderful things happening in the world today. All over the planet, thousands, if not millions of people are making bold and powerful efforts to end war, eliminate disease and famine, and, in general, make the world a better place for everybody. However, in addition to the resistance experienced from those entrenched in the status quo, the idealists face silent and relentless efforts to marginalize their work. I believe, if it were not for these obstacles, both visible and invisible, the majority of humanity's challenges could be conquered within a very short time. I have attended many lectures, seminars, conferences, rallies, marches, etc., to support the cause of peace, overcome inhumane corporate practices, and stop unnecessary war. Over and over again, I hear people talking about ways to heal the damage. Sincere and heartfelt statements are made about how we can do things better, improve governments and mobilize for change. But I have never heard anyone name the core problem let alone talk about how to eliminate it. The problem, the source of most of humanity's misery, is the predatory leader. Until we understand his nature and the successful methods he uses to achieve his goals, we will not prevail against him. Many feel that it is inevitable that people in power will succumb to the exploitive opportunities of their position (power corrupts . . .) and when idealistic youth ask why such people are in power and why don't we change, their wiser elders shrug their shoulders to say, "That's the way it's always been and that's how it always will be." I disagree. I believe there exists a systemic process yet to be publically identified that very efficiently exploits the positive traits of human nature. The predatory leader is adept at employing this process. It

allows those who are willing to do anything for power to outcompete those who have the capacity to be compassionate leaders of conscience. Its workings are generally unknown and we coexist with it in a way that is similar to the way medicine coexisted with viruses and bacteria before Pasteur's work revealed the microscopic agents of disease. The consequence is that over and over again, we passively allow the worst possible people to work their way into positions of power and control. My primary goal is to educate people about the invisible nature and practice of predatory leadership - how a small percentage of sociopaths, abusive personalities and those who single mindedly seek to dominate and control in their arenas are the major creators and contributors to our painful history and devastating conditions of our present day debacles. The first step towards an effective, healing change is to bring this subject into public dialogue and encourage brainstorming on reinventing the ways and means people have available to earn a place in positions of leadership. ============ Below is a draft article on the subject of predatory leadership followed by two email responses from academics in the field of leadership. While the researchers state that they are unable to get involved themselves, the nature of their response gives me some hope that this idea will be interesting to people who have the resources and expertise to study it more deeply. I have outlined some goals at the end of this email. I am particularly interested in the perspective of psychologists, historians, political scientists and sociologists. It will be extremely valuable to see how the predatory leader shows up in different arenas such as corporate, political, educational, religious, military, health care as well as in other cultures. You can access a rudimentary website on the subject at A more robust and interactive site is currently under construction. You may have ideas, suggestions or referrals; any input is welcome. All the best, Matt Kramer 707-795-6057 Predatory Leadership: A New Buzzword for Corrupt Times by Matt Kramer

Next to plagues and natural disasters, corrupt leaders may be the greatest contributors to past and present states of human misery. This article begins to explore the historic and the current nature of predatory leadership and its impact on humanity. The first step toward creating effective change in the methods available to those who work their way into positions of leadership is to understand how such people think and act, and how they are able to attain the power they seek. There was a time, in my naive youth, when I assumed that somewhere within even the most evil of us exists a spark of compassion and the possibility of reform. But now, from my perspective as an older and wiser man, I no longer believe this to be true for a specific percentage of the population. In my work as both a business and family mediator, I have had cases in which one of the parties was either uninterested or too self-interested to display any commitment to sharing responsibility for the conflict on the table. Instead, they fell into one or more of these categories: 1. They were expertly skilled at exploiting and manipulating every opportunity to get what they want. 2. They were adept at confusing and camouflaging the issues to the point that a fair resolution could not be reached . 3. They appeared incapable of any behavior other than bullying and manipulation to the extent that the mediation ended without resolution. Throughout my years in practice as a mediator I became fascinated with the ease with which these abusive, narcissistic personalities were able to control their spouses, employees, children and other primary relationships, and began to formulate my theories about "predatory leadership." For the most part, I support a generalization that "most people are good." In 30 years as a business professional and world traveler, I have had, at most, two incidents in which I encountered people who intentionally wished me ill. In general I've found the vast majority of human interactions to be positive experiences fueled by healthy intentions. So what is different about the minority? According to Martha Stout (The Sociopath Next Door), 4 percent of the population has an undiagnosed (and perhaps outwardly invisible) personality disorder that combines a narcissistic obsession for self entitlement with a lack of capacity for empathy. What happens when a member of that minority attains a position of social, corporate, political or religious power?

There is endless research on the symptoms of sociopaths and abusive personalities, and for a quick overview, here are a few primary examples. These traits might be present in a predatory leader (like squares and rectangles, sociopaths and abusive personalities share some common characteristics): . In their minds, they are the only victims. In their public trials, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic never acknowledged they were responsible for causing harm to others; their major efforts in the courts were to direct attention to how badly they, themselves, were being treated. . They lack the capacity for compassion, empathy, shame or guilt. . They make every effort to prove their actions are the fault of somebody else. . They often exhibit symptoms of narcissistic or borderline personality disorder. Research shows that the brains of abused children and sociopaths are physiologically different from those who were raised with the nurturance each child deserves from birth. Sociopathic behavior indicates that they lack the capacity for empathy and they appear to be incapable of taking responsibility for the harm they have caused others. In my own observations, within the abusers operates a mechanism that works desperately to keep them from ever acknowledging they did anything wrong. It's almost as if they are being controlled by a overpowering subconscious belief that they will self destruct if they ever really connect with either the nature of their submerged shame or fully grasped the degree of pain and suffering they inflict upon others. I correlate my own experience as a mediator with a quote from a review of "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout: "We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people - one in twenty-five - has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt."

Child psychiatrist Jack Westman estimates that each typical sociopath will cost society $3 million over the course of his lifetime, but society does virtually nothing to address this condition. In connection to Westman's statement, I personally support a number of well meaning, humanitarian organizations in which sincere, motivated people rally to stop war, heal the planet, stop famine, etc. As I listen to their impassioned speeches, I'm reminded over and over again, "These folks are talking about healing huge and significant damage but nobody is talking about how to eliminate the source of problem." The source is complex, insidious and in many ways, well hidden. At the same time, it is publically visible in a way that makes the horrible acceptable. The consequences of war is sold to the public as a solution because the other side, led by similar leaders selling the same propaganda to their people, is making demons out of the first population. In this way, the predatory leaders are partners in crime; they need and use each other's pathologies to justify their own. One of the greatest challenges is to define this complex issue in a way that is accessible and interesting to people who could be motivated to effect change. The first step is to bring the discussion to the general public so that more people have the opportunity to develop and carry out solutions. PREDATORY LEADERS UNMASKED For examples of predatory leaders we can immediately point to obvious examples of Hitler and Stalin who used dirty tricks, propaganda, demonization of innocent people, war and assassination to achieve their goals. But more pervasive and less obvious are the millions of petty tyrants working at all levels of society, including: . Government bureaucrats and corporate administrators, many of them in positions to make life miserable for hundreds or thousands of people daily. . Employers who exploit and take advantage of employees. . Abusive police officers who bully their neighborhoods . Abusive gang leaders who bully their neighborhoods . Abusive teachers who intimidate their students . Religious clergy who abuse their following . Corporate decision makers who hide or lie about toxic elements in their products or lay off their work force in exchange for using slave

labor overseas. . Insurgents who plant bombs and the people who recruit and train them. . The domestic abuser who emotionally or physically terrorizes his/her family. These are a few examples of people who decide to act -- consciously or subconsciously -- to exploit and oppress others for their own benefit. While there may be wide variations among these groups, they share a common mindset that includes an unchecked sense of entitlement coupled with a disregard for others that serves as the foundation for oppressive decisions and actions. One particularly dangerous aspect of predatory leaders is that their agendas, often couched in a message that they are "helping their people," provide opportunity for sociopathic personalities with fewer leadership skills to thrive in service to their leaders. In such service, a man who would be imprisoned for rape and murder in a peaceful environment can join or form a militia where his crimes are excused, overlooked or even requested as he carries out his mission. This appears to be happening in Darfur today. I will relate a brief story about a friend of mine who has the potential to be a humane, compassionate and effective political leader. He was on the ground floor of the national political arena and his friends and colleagues had high hopes for him. But in his professional environment, advancement in his field meant he had to compromise his conscience and morals so thoroughly that he chose to drop out. He would ultimately be replaced by someone who lacked similar conscience and was sufficiently self serving that he could do the dirty work necessary to move up in the organization. This is one of the key reasons that we find ourselves with malevolent, exploitive and murderous people in positions of power. While they may not be proactively murderous, they are sufficiently bureaucratic in mid-level positions to move through the ranks of the regime, corporation, military unit or religious institution while serving their own narcissistic agendas. The inhumane consequences of the bureaucratic nature of managed health care are a current example. In 1972 my friend took some time off from his studies at Harvard to work on George McGovern's presidential campaign in New Hampshire. He did so well that he was hired to run the state campaign for one of the Dakotas. He told me about how excited he was to be meeting the top players in the Democratic Party and that he could see making a career of this work. I told him I looked forward to voting for him in 30 years.

A year later he dropped out. It wasn't that the competition was too tough; he thrived on competition. The problem was that he was being asked to do things that were too filthy for his conscience to bear. But there were plenty of others waiting in line to do the dirty work, and they would advance as a result. In this situation a potentially great leader was marginalized while a sociopath forged ahead in the same organization. Over the centuries, the nature and path to power has become so infected with the poison of sociopaths and the opportunists who gild their pockets by serving the abusers in power, that a majority of the general public accepts such abuse as inevitable and feels powerless to do anything about it. This happens not just in the corporate, government, military and political arenas, but also in educational, non- profit and religious institutions. Most average folks complacently leave leadership to others, and when this happens, ruthlessly competitive goal seekers who will do anything to achieve their goals pervade all aspects of culture and society. For the sake of this discussion, from the Oxford English Dictionary, an applicable definition of leadership is "a person or thing that leads." Consider the position that all individuals are leaders in their own lives by virtue of the fact that on conscious and subconscious levels, they make leadership choices about every action they take. These choices are as personal as selecting a school for their children or as far-reaching as the decision to follow a leader who preaches harm to others. This raises the question about the distinction between sociopathic personalities and the actions of those who become enmeshed in their policies. How do we discern between a conscientious person who harms others because if they don't follow orders they'll suffer as a consequence (soldiers, intimidated employees or abused family members), and a sociopath who follows a murderous leader because the leader provides an opportunity for the sociopath to "legitimately" impose his will upon others without suffering any personal consequence.? Look at how leadership shows up in the nuclear family. To many, an ideal family is one where mother and father share roles as parents and leaders of the family. In many families in which one parent is abusive and controls the rest of the family, there is no room for shared leadership or any independent initiative on the part of other family members. Often this dysfunction is not visible outside of the family; friends will say, "I thought they were the perfect couple." This example of dual personalities exists in all forms of predatory leadership. In the broad spectrum between the domestic abuser and the dictator of a

nation, they share a common pathological mindset. It is the lack of understanding about how these sociopathic and abusive minds function that enables such toxic entities to get into positions of power over and over again. CAN PREDATORY LEADERSHIP BE HEALED? With the goal of healing leadership, we can create a public dialogue, encourage research and develop ways to educate consumers, voters, corporations, families, educators and others, especially school age children, to identify abusers before they complete the path to power. With this education, bullies will have much less power in a schools, neighborhoods and offices, and adolescents will be better able to understand the difference between toxic and healthy romantic relationships. An additional benefit of such education is that people will make better choices for their marriages, there will be less divorce, less abusive behavior and children will have a better chance to grow up in healthy, non-abusive homes. A program like this, carried out on a national basis, can go a long way towards breaking the cycle of abused children growing up to be abusive parents and abusive leaders. On the larger scale, I envision a manual of identified actions and behaviors that would unmask the those parading publically as benevolent leaders while behind the scenes, their actions are ruthlessly exploitive. In current events, the self serving interests of the predatory leaders were exposed in Burma in the wake of the recent cyclone devastation. Millions of dollars of aid and thousands of relief workers are standing by while thousands of Burmese are dying from lack of potable water, disease and starvation. The "leaders" are withholding their permission of a full scale rescue effort because, according to a Reuters' report published on May 9, 2008: "Myanmar is not in a position to receive rescue and information teams from foreign countries at the moment," the government-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper said in a report on the aid operation slowly building up for survivors of Cyclone Nargis." Reading between the lines with an insight to the pathology of the sociopathic leader, I know that what is happening is that those in power fear losing control. If thousands of foreigners gain unrestricted access to a population that has been rigidly denied contact with the outside world, Senior General Than Shwe would face challenges to the tight grip he has held on the nation since 1992. Maintaining that control is much more important than doing everything possible to alleviate the devastation in his country.

Epilogue Researching and developing programs to fight predatory leadership is a long term project and it is bigger than me. I do not want to own it or profit from it. I want people to gain tools and insights to protect themselves from the predatory personalities who lack conscience and empathy - a significant element in their ability to cause pain and harm to others as a byproduct of their pursuit of their goals. Short term, my goals are in the following order: 1. Enlist fellow humanitarians to collaborate on research and developing programs that will effectively address this monumental challenge. The end result - maybe a couple of generations away - will be a paradigm that includes a holistic process for identifying potential predators before they attain power, redirecting them elsewhere and, at the same time, identifying and nurturing potentially compassionate leaders. 2. Develop a more effective website - the current website is a hasty setup to get something online: 3. Write one or more books on the myriad aspects of this subject (the subject would progress geometrically if it could include contributions from professionals in the fields of psychology, poly sci, sociology, history, etc.) 4. Integrate these concepts into our educational curriculum in appropriate ways. For example, I believe there would be a significant reduction in abusive marriages if Patricia Evans' book, "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" was taught in junior high and high school. 5. Start a non-profit organization to bring in funding for promotion (speakers bureaus?) and to develop research and tools to ensure the development of the more humane aspects of the world's cultures. Not too big a task, eh? Thank you for reading this far. I look forward to interesting conversations and any insights or critiques you may have. Matt Kramer 707-795-6057 Correspondence with Professor Dean Simonton (UC Davis) and Professor Jack Glaser (UC Berkeley):

Begin forwarded message: From: "Dean Simonton" Date: September 19, 2007 12:37:57 PDT To: Matt Kramer Subject: RE: Introduction to Predatory Leaders Hi, Matt ~ Your concept of "predatory leaders" is a very interesting and potentially useful one. It has some affinity with other concepts in the literature on political leadership, such as Machiavellian, transactional (rather than transformational), and negative (rather than positive) charismatic leadership. Hence, one of your first tasks would be to specify how this particular form of leadership differs from these other forms. Unfortunately, my main research interests have drifted away from political leadership. What little work I now do is restricted to the predictors of presidential performance ratings. I wish you success. ~ Best, Dean Dean Keith Simonton, PhD Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair Department of Psychology One Shields Avenue University of California, Davis Davis, CA 95616-8686 Home Page - *************************************************** Begin forwarded message: From: "Jack Glaser" Date: September 19, 2007 10:37:19 PDT To: "Matt Kramer" Subject: Re: Introduction to Predatory Leaders Dear Mr. Kramer, Thanks for sending your message. The idea is extremely interesting, but it is so far outside my area of expertise that I'm afraid I can't be of help. The social psychologist who is most prominent in the study of leadership is Dean Simonton. You may wish to look into his work. Thanks again, and best of luck with your important work. Jack Glaser <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Jack Glaser Assistant Professor Goldman School of Public Policy University of California, Berkeley 2607 Hearst Avenue Berkeley, CA 94720-7320 510-642-3047, FAX: 510-643-3047 On Sat, September 15, 2007 3:06 am, Matt Kramer wrote: Dear Professor Glaser;

I learned of your work hearing you as a guest on Forum last week. I am very impressed reading your C.V.; I hesitate to contact you; you are certainly very busy. If you do not have time to respond to my query, maybe you can provide an appropriate referral. I would like to share a theory I am developing on the nature of predatory leaders. I have been working as a professional mediator since 1994. In the course of my work, I began to study the nature of abusive personalities and eventually recognized correlations between the behavior of such personalities in the domestic arena and practically all other areas of human interaction: corporate, government, educational, religious, military, etc. I feel this theory will be best served by sharing the development with people with different areas of expertise: political scientists, historians, psychologists, sociologists, etc. I do not wish to own this idea; my desire is to help it make its way into public dialogue - if the general population can learn to recognize the behavior patterns, maybe they will start developing ways to protect themselves in their private lives and find ways to redirect the predators away from access to positions of power and control. I know this is tricky ground but I don't know of any other efforts being made that address what I see as humanity's primary problem. Ironically, in my efforts to find partners, my own leadership abilities are challenged. When I started talking about this subject a few years ago, eyes glazed over rather quickly. I have fine tuned my elevator speech to the extent that now when I have an opportunity to share these ideas, people actually seem to get it. But the task feels much too big for me to do it justice. I'd like to see a poly-sci class or a sociology class take it on as a course of study. For your review, I will include a draft article I have recently begun to write.

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