“They use charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sexual intercourse and violence to control others .. Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please.” — Robert Hare
Over the weekend I came across an excellent article by Oliver James, however where Mr James argues that we should all engage in manipulating others for our own gain, I take the opposite view. Instead I want to raise awareness of the increasing problems caused by leaders who have been selected for their charisma, aggressive attitudes and love of risk. These leaders were all clearly appointed because they were charming and promised their boards whatever the boards wanted to hear.
Sadly the very criteria that prompted the boards to hire these leaders are also symptoms of a disease.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) describes this disease as antisocial personality disorder (ASD). The person suffering from this disease exhibits abnormally low empathy to others and they always destroy value, in themselves, those who surround them and the organisations they lead. They are invariably extraordinarily charismatic, highly aggressive towards their goals and love risk.
But they are also totally unable to understand morals, ethics or empathy to any living thing. It is these traits that make them tyrants to those beneath them in an organisation while remaining utterly charming to those they feel they need to please in order to get what they want.
There is no cure or treatment.
“Clinicians generally believe that there is neither a cure nor any effective treatment for psychopathy; there are no medications that can instill empathy, while psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy only become more adept at manipulating others.” – Christopher J. Patrick, Handbook of Psychopathy
The disease makes these individuals seek unethical, aggressive, high risk actions which eventually mean disaster for the organisation they lead. When things do go wrong the disease makes these people blame everyone but themselves. Although they are extraordinary skilled in communication they have no understanding of truth and have no care about misleading or damaging other people.
If you look in the newspapers at the terrible things being revealed every day about food contamination, where donkey meat is being sold as 100% certified beef, or where banks have acted to cheat their customers, or where politicians have lied and cheated; you can clearly see that boards have been hiring people who are sick with this disease.
I hope that this blog will prompt board members to look at their CEOs in a new light, examine honestly if they are sick with this disease and act to save their organisations by selecting for more traditional values of virtue, honesty and compassion rather than the impossible promises of sick people that always end in disaster.