Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Natural consequences

Executive psycopaths, Gardiner Morse, Harvard Business Review October 2004:

Chances are good there’s a psychopath on your management team. Seriously. I’m not talking about the “psycho” boss that employees like to carp about—the hard-driving supervisor who sometimes loses it. He’s just difficult. Nor am I referring to the sort of homicidal “psychopath” Hollywood likes to serve up—Freddy Krueger, say, or Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. Neither is, clinically speaking, a psychopath.

I’m talking about the real thing, the roughly 1% of the population that is certifiably psychopathic. True psychopaths are diagnosed according to very specific clinical criteria, and they’re nothing like the popular conception. What stands out about bona fide psychopaths is that they’re so hard to spot. They’re chameleons. They have a cunning ability to act perfectly normally and indeed to be utterly charming, as they wreak havoc on the lives of the people around them and the companies they inhabit.

Many of psychopaths’ defining characteristics—their polish, charm, cool decisiveness, and fondness for the fast lane—are easily, and often, mistaken for leadership qualities...

Beware corporate psychopaths – they are still occupying positions of power, Brian Basham, Independent, 29 December 2011:
My companion, a senior UK investment banker and I, are discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.

He then makes an astonishing confession: "At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles."

Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.

Clive Boddy (2011) "The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis", Journal of Business Ethics 102:255-259:
The knowledge that Corporate Psychopaths are to be found at the top of organisations and seem to favour working with other people’s money in large financial organisations has in turn, led to the development of the Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis. The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis is that Corporate Psychopaths, rising to key senior positions within modern financial corporations, where they are able to influence the moral climate of the whole organisation and yield [sic] considerable power, have largely caused the crisis. In these senior corporate positions, the Corporate Psychopath’s single-minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations has led to an abandonment of the old fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fairness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.


senior level remuneration and reward started to increase more and more rapidly and beyond all proportion to shop floor incomes and a culture of greed unfettered by conscience developed. Corporate Psychopaths are ideally situated to prey on such an environment and corporate fraud, financial misrepresentation, greed and misbehaviour went through the roof, bringing down huge companies and culminating in the Global Financial Crisis that we are now in.

Writing in 2005, this author commentating on Corporate Psychopaths predicted that the rise of Corporate Psychopaths was a recipe for corporate and societal disaster. This disaster has now happened and is still happening. Across the western world the symptoms of the financial crisis are now being treated. However, if the Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis is correct, then this treatment of the symptoms will have little effect because the root cause is not being addressed. The very same Corporate Psychopaths, who probably caused the crisis by their self-seeking greed and avarice, are now advising governments on how to get out of the crisis. That this involves paying themselves vast bonuses in the midst of financial hardship for many millions of others, is symptomatic of the problem.