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.
Recent 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.