19 Ways to identify workplace psychopaths


by Mike Lehr

Psychopaths work to amass their power – workplace psychopaths included. Emotion is not in the equation. This means they’re immune to others’ feelings, including their own. They won’t hesitate to suffer what might be humiliating to their co-workers as long as it advances their power. This might appear as an unabashed ‘yes person’ willing to do anything to advance. Consequently, egotists and narcissists – who possess a more emotionally centered self-view – are different in this way. In addition to being an unabashed ‘yes man’, workplace psychopaths are likely to fulfill a number of other criteria.

Workplace psychopaths:

1. Are three times more likely to be male,

2. Establish tight control over their environment and others,

3. Create and enforce policies, procedures and rules to their advantage, punishing violators harshly,

4. Break the very rules they enforce on others,

5. Think, or say something such as: ‘Nothing personal, this is business’,

6. Prize objectivity almost exclusively,

7. Lie even when it’s obvious they are not telling the truth,

8. Have a bottom-line orientation, meaning relationships won’t sway them,

9. Lose no sleep in making adverse employment decisions such as terminations, demotions, etc.,

10. Surround themselves with ‘yes people’,

11. Create homogeneous work cultures, avoiding diverse personalities,

12. Possess average to above-average intelligence,

13. Exhibit charisma, especially in one-on-one and group situations,

14. Function awkwardly in small, diverse groups of three to eight people,

15. Work extended periods with little concern for the impact on family and friends,

16. Spread negative news and attributes of those who threaten their power,

17. Undermine those with strong personal relationships,

18. Extend their power by ‘constructively criticising’ others’ ideas, and

19. Focus on taking credit for the creativity of others rather than exhibit creativity themselves.

Admittedly, no single characteristic makes a workplace psychopath. All of us, at various times, can exhibit several of these character traits. However, if several persistent frequently, then consider yourself warned…

This article first appeared on Mike Lehr’s blog and was republished, on HR Pulse, with his kind permission.

This entry is part 2 of 10 in the series about psychopaths and sociopaths in the workplace. (Follow this link to read the first installment).

Share on Social Media

Leave a comment