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How to Tell if Your Boss is a Psychopath

Psychopathy is nothing new, but what many people don’t realize is that a high percentage of people in top positions exhibit a terrifying number of psychopathic traits. This doesn’t mean they are serial killers. Far from it, in fact. But what it does mean is that they are a nightmare to deal with and if you don’t watch your back, there could be trouble ahead. So what are the warning signs your boss is a white-collar psychopath?

Lying Schemers

Psychopaths are experts at their game. These people are not your average Hollywood axe murderer. No, they are scheming, lying, manipulative fraudsters, and cunning beyond belief. They are also very clever, so the fact they have an online executive masters in business administration from Washington State or an MBA from Harvard should not cloud your judgement. Besides, they might even have faked their resume in order to land the job.

Hollywood Psychopaths

Whilst Hollywood often creates over-the-top caricatures of cardboard cutout psychopaths, Jason from Friday the 13th being a good example, actors do sometimes hit the nail on the head in their portrayal of a full-on psycho. If you have seen The Devil Wears Prada, you will know exactly what I mean. The character of Miranda Priestly, fictional editor of a fictional glossy magazine, is about as close as it gets to a corporate psycho.

These people are also fairly common in real life, with some claiming Sir “Shifty” Philip Green, former head of retail scion, BHS, is a good example. Unfortunately, because of their prevalence in positions of power, you are more than likely to come across a corporate psychopath if you work your way up the corporate ladder after successfully completing an executive MBA program. So what should you look for?

The Psychopath Checklist

  • Does your boss frequently explode in an orgy of rage over the slightest thing and is the “blame game” a daily occurrence?

  • Does your boss adopt the ultimate passive-aggressive approach to conflict resolution, sending hundreds of snide emails but failing to tell you anything to your face?

  • Does your boss show no signs of empathy whatsoever, so when you ask for the day off due to stress or coming down with the flu, they merely laugh?

  • Is your boss charming and smoother than silk to anyone who in a senior position, but poison personified to everyone else?

  • Is your boss the worst project manager ever, but skilled at covering up their deficiencies and blaming someone else when it all goes wrong?

  • Is the staff turnover in your office five times higher than the company average?

If any of the above pointers make you sit up and take note, you may have a problem boss. Many bosses can be difficult – or even tyrants – depending on your perspective, but most are not psychopaths. However, if you do have a psychopathic boss, it is probably a good idea to start looking for another job on the quiet, as they are never going to change.

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