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Psychopaths in the workplace: 1 in 5 are CEOs

Psychopaths in the workplace could teach us all a thing or two about keeping our eyes on the career prize, even if popular culture depicts them as murderous villains devoid of emotion.

However, could their behavioural anomalies inspire success?

To go boldly where no human has gone before requires courage, grit, and vision. Add a dash of cold indifference, and you could have a winning recipe for achievement.

In a world where CEOs are the highest ranking professionals with psychopathic personalities, considering the disorder’s career advantages is tempting. One in five CEOs are psychopaths.

Psychology’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categorises psychopathy as an Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).

Not to be confused with sociopaths, psychopaths are traditionally described as being charming, able to hold a steady job, successful, and lacking empathy.

Sociopaths however, often live on the fringes of society and have a high predisposition towards volatility, and unpredictable behaviour.

While the above attributes can easily be confused with coffee-withdrawal, the distinction between these two types of ASPD is crucial.

In regards to professional relationships, psychopaths are often maligned as career terrorists. Popular descriptions portray them as playing their colleagues against one another for their own betterment.

However, if we banish images of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman from the discussion, then perhaps a surface evaluation of the disorder could render insightful tips for professional growth.

psychopaths in the workplace - Compelo

Hesitant to ask for a raise?

A stint in grandiose delusions, a common feature of psychopathy, could abolish self-limiting perceptions.

Experts commonly point out that this type of personality disorder feels convinced of its superiority.

In the business world, moving up the corporate ladder requires impressing the right superiors.

Thus, high performing psychopaths in the workplace exercise their curated charm, magnetism, and dauntless self-assurance to good effect.

If confidence doesn’t come naturally to you, fake it. Embark on visualization techniques to transform success from a possibility to a probability.

Develop a firm handshake. Establish eye-contact. Improve your posture. Pretend to be your favourite character from an inspiring book, film, or TV series. Carry a good luck charm in your pocket. Rope a loved one into giving you a pep talk.

Regardless of you method, unshakable confidence is a key attribute that psychopaths share, one that gives them the competitive edge.

However, it’s also an attribute than anyone can channel.

Can you talk the talk?

Research also indicates that psychopaths are adept in the art of communication. In particular, one-on-one discourse is an area they excel in, as it provides the perfect arena for their manufactured charm.

Thus, having a silver tongue is a weapon they don’t hesitate to employ. In fact, they wield it with the single-mindedness of a skilled mercenary.

Articulacy is a talent that can hold anyone in good stead, regardless of their profession. Furthermore, the process of conveying meaning through language is universal, and provides opportunities for improvement in every interaction.

If expressing your thoughts in a clear manner is not your strong suit, consider fundamental issues first.

Don’t mumble. Speak slowly. Think before speaking. Read more and work on your vocabulary. Be aware of your audience. Make sure the person next to you can hear you. Maintain eye contact.

While the above seem like shallow appraisals to a complex issue, they provide immediate solutions. Finely tuned communication skills can foster authentic relationships in the workplace, and are integral to networking.

psychopaths in the workplace - Compelo

Do you care too much?

Empathy for others is an invaluable trait that an individual should never reduce or eliminate.

However, when it manifests into over-thinking and putting others’ needs before your own, it can become a handicap.

In order to achieve the dreams that inspire motivation, a degree of self-centeredness is a good thing, and makes complete sense.

To accomplish anything in life the ego must be stimulated in the healthy objective of setting goals, and achieving them. While psychopaths can be ruthless towards others in their pursuit of success, some of us can learn ruthlessness towards our inner demons.

Since habitual thought processes lead to long-held beliefs, caring less about what others think will not happen overnight.

However, ensuring your needs are consistently met before anyone else’s is a healthy practice in achieving personal and professional goals.

Learning from psychopaths in the workplace

The full implications of psychopathy in the workplace require further thought and analysis from qualified professionals. Nevertheless, people can use the surface traits of its presentation for the power of good.

Humankind’s urge for progression and growth is as natural as the need to survive.

Regardless of personal career goals, there are some traits inherent in psychopaths that can inspire success and positive change.

When used with respect towards others, attributes such as genuine charm, effective communication, and determination can stimulate career progression.