Saturday, June 25, 2016

1 in 25 Business Leaders May Be Psychopaths

Based on my own anecdotal research, I think it's much worse than 1 in 25 as this 2011 TIME article suggests.  My own non-scientific polling suggests that bad managers far exceed the good ones by at least 10 to 1.  It's almost the exception to the rule to find a good, honest manager in any organization public or private.  All these bad managers may not be certifiable psychopaths but I think in their quest for power at any price they learn that dishonest, unethical, immoral behavior is encouraged and rewarded whereas the opposite is not the case.

It seems the scum always rises to the top when people are promoted.  Why is this?  Well I think it's because promotions have less to do with merit and more to do with popularity.  In most cases, people are promoted because those in decision making positions personally like them and the amoral compass they live by.  And people tend to like those who are just like themselves; as the old saying goes, birds of a fetter flock together.  So the vicious cycle continues and good, honest people are consistently passed over for promotions and relegated to irrelivant positions as worker bees where they cannot do much to affect positive change in their organization.

And in this age of the financialization of America where Wall Street's demands for quarterly profits coerces business managers into making short-term financial decisions at the expense of the long-term viability of their company, who wants to hire a manager with long-term goals and objectives at the expense of short term gains?  Bad management at all levels in an organization just facilitates Wall Street's demand for a profit at any price!


Regardless of the type of organization you work for, start paying attention to who gets promoted and who doesn't; pay attention to the behavior rather than the words of those in management positions; pay attention to the subtleties; and I think you'll confirm for yourself my suspicions that good managers are few and far between.  But read this article and judge for yourself.

TIME

Study: 1 in 25 Business Leaders May Be Psychopaths



One in 25 bosses may be psychopaths — a rate that’s four times greater than in the general population — according to research by psychologist and executive coach Paul Babiak.
Babiak studied 203 American corporate professionals who had been chosen by their companies to participate in a management training program. He evaluated their psychopathic traits using a version of the standard psychopathy checklist developed by Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Psychopaths, who are characterized by being completely amoral and concerned only with their own power and selfish pleasures, may be overrepresented in the business environment because it plays to their strengths. Where greed is considered good and profitmaking is the most important value, psychopaths can thrive.
They also tend to be charming and manipulative — and in corporate America, that easily passes for leadership. But, as the U.K.’s Guardian reported:
The survey suggests psychopaths are actually poor managerial performers but are adept at climbing the corporate ladder because they can cover up their weaknesses by subtly charming superiors and subordinates. This makes it almost impossible to distinguish between a genuinely talented team leader and a psychopath, Babiak said.
In fact, it can be hard spot the psychopath in any crowd (according to Hare, psychopaths make up 1% of the general population). They’re not all ruthless serial killers; rather, psychopaths who grow up in happy, loving homes might end up channeling their energies in a less violent way — say, by becoming a CEO. “Psychopaths really aren’t the kind of person you think they are,” Babiak said.



Szalavitz's latest book isBorn for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential — and Endangered. It is co-written with Dr. Bruce Perry, a leading expert in the neuroscience of child trauma and recovery.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Old Friend

Melancholy by Edvard Munch 1891
When I was in high school, I had a close friend who fell very ill.  My friend came from a broken home.  His parents divorced and his younger sisters went to live with his mother while he stayed with his father.  We spent a lot of time together and had many happy memories.  We became best friends.

In the early 1980s, when I was visiting him in the hospital, I suspected then that he’d never really recover from his illness.  He moved away to live with his mother and sisters and we lost touch.  We briefly reunited a year after I joined the Navy and came home on leave.  We took a fun road trip together and rekindled our friendship, but we lost touch once again. Many years later when we reconnected through the Internet, my suspicions were confirmed—he never really recovered from his illness.

I had hoped when we reconnected that I’d discover that he’d gotten better, fallen in love, gotten married, had children, and built a career.  But none of that ever happened.  Despite his superior intellect, a college education, and handsome features, he’d never married, had children, or became successful; instead he's now living the life of a bohemian recluse just scraping by.  It was very sad for me to learn this.

But my old friend seemed to be quite happy with his life choices and has absolutely no regrets. He's quite happy living where he does and doing what he does for a living. He's no dummy.  If anything, he feels sorry for me for having the burdens of marriage and children, a mortgage, car payments, and maintaining a  career.  So we no longer have much in common.  Our lives went in opposite directions. I went the traditional route in life, and he went the bohemian route. He’d lost his Christian faith years ago and has become something of an agnostic.  And without that moral compass to guide him, he's developed some very unusual beliefs.

Mental illness can be a debilitating disease that, if left untreated, can literally ruin a person’s life, the lives of their family, and everyone who cares about them.  And it can rob them of their ability to live up to their full potential in life and become productive members of our society.  In the early 1980s when my friend was first diagnosed with a mental illness, it was socially taboo to discuss it. Today it’s gotten a lot better and I regularly see public service announcements on television educating the public about mental illness.   Having a mental illness is not that different than having diabetes; with the proper treatment, care, and support, it can be managed so they can live more normal lives.

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