A recent study at Bond University in Australia, led by Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist, has confirmed our suspicion that one in five CEOs have psychopathic tendencies. Alarmingly, that’s the same ratio as that found amongst prison inmates!

Psychopaths are like robots as they lack emotional intelligence and so cannot empathise. Consequently, they never feel guilty about anything; even when they go out of their way to disrupt, cause chaos and take unjustifiable risks. They have supreme self-confidence and they think that the entire world revolves around them. They see life as a game which has to be won by any means-fair or foul and they will stop at nothing to reach the top. They treat their employees like pawns and are ready to play them off against each other, happily trading them for bigger fish.

The psychopath’s rise to success is, of course, not a new phenomenon. As far back as 1941, an American psychiatrist, Hervey Cleckley, published a book entitled ‘The Mask of Sanity’ in which he describes the ability of an apparently normal person to mask his or her destructive behaviour. Those who have a psychopath as a leader see a boss who oozes charm and charisma on the surface but eventually realise that beneath this veneer lies a narcissist who is selfish, cunning and ruthless. As a result, their employees lack energy and commitment and get lost along the way and, as they are rudderless, they soon begin to underperform. Job pressure and mental stress fuel fear and are caustic. Employees resort to absenteeism as the only solution and the business is at risk of long term failure.

The best leaders are genuine, honest and efficient. Their team members pull in the same direction as they have a cox who gives them a shared sense of purpose and belonging.  They are creative thinkers, they have a positive attitude and they are determined to succeed.

So why are there so many bosses with such personality flaws employed at the top level? Is it because top recruiters focus more on skills than personality? Or is it simply because a disproportionate number of ruthless, exploitative career orientated professionals gravitate towards businesses where they can gain power, status and wealth? What do you think..?