Psychopaths in Management are More Common Than You Think
By Victor Lipman of Predictive Index
What would you say if I told you there was a higher incidence of psychopaths in business leadership than in the general population?
Sound outlandish? That’s what I thought too until I began to read the work of Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, whose book, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, provides an outstanding foundational knowledge on the subject.
Their conclusion, based on years of anecdotal research and a study of management development programs, is that an incidence of 3% psychopaths in management is well above the roughly 1% incidence of psychopathy in the general population. (By comparison, the figure is approximately 15% in prison populations.)
Psychopathic behavior is characterized by egocentric and grandiose actions accompanied by a complete lack of conscience and empathy. As I’ve reflected back on my decades in management and my more recent work in consulting, the conclusions of Babiak and Hare, seem to me, sadly, all too accurate.