Feb 282012

A pre­vi­ous post, “Spot the Psy­cho­path”, talked about Down­ward Focus com­ing wrapped up in the shape of a psy­cho­path. These dan­ger­ous indi­vidu­als are not the obvi­ous, grot­esque creatures por­trayed in the movies, but charm­ing and manip­u­lat­ive — traits that can pass for lead­er­ship and are con­sequently extremely hard to identify.

mask of sanityRecent research by Paul Babiak claims that as many as one in 25 busi­ness lead­ers could be a psy­cho­path. The busi­ness envir­on­ment plays to their strengths, when greed is good and profit­mak­ing the over­whelm­ing pri­or­ity. One of the fea­tures they share with another Down­ward Focus work­place char­ac­ter, the nar­ciss­ist, is lack of empathy.

An expert in this area, Sam Vaknin, warns that these people will do any­thing to pre­serve their own sense of superi­or­ity, are patho­lo­gical liars, and are “their own confabulation.”

When deal­ing with a boss you sus­pect is psy­cho­pathic or nar­ciss­istic, Vaknin advises:

  • Never dis­agree or con­tra­dict them
  • Never offer them any intimacy
  • Look awed and inspired by whatever attrib­ute mat­ters to them

This is hard advice to swal­low, but the nar­ciss­ist and psy­cho­path are ruth­less. If you sus­pect one of these char­ac­ters is lurk­ing in your work­place — or else­where in your life — trust your gut!

Have a listen to the recent pod­cast, which helps shine a light on Down­ward Focus in organisations.