Are you a corporate psychopath?

Are you a corporate psychopath?

The presence of “psychopathic” leaders can, according to a professor of management, pose a significant threat to the stability of companies, sectors, and potentially entire economies. Dr. Boddy, Deputy Head of the School of Management at Anglia Ruskin University, has shed light on the alarming prevalence of corporate psychopaths and their potential to wreak havoc in the pursuit of money, power and control. 

What are the characteristics of psychopathy, the warning signs to identify such individuals and just how do you navigate a working relationship with a psychopathic boss?

Understanding Corporate Psychopathy

Corporate psychopaths, constituting around 1% of the adult population, are individuals devoid of conscience, shame, guilt, or the ability to experience love or empathy. Driven by a ruthless quest for money, power and control, they often ascend to senior positions in business and industry due to their seemingly charming and intelligent personas.

Identifying Warning Signs

To safeguard against the impact of corporate psychopaths, it is crucial to be aware of red flags indicative of psychopathic behaviour. Dr. Boddy emphasises several key characteristics:

Lack of Empathy: Psychopathic leaders exhibit a complete absence of empathy, often bullying employees without understanding the impact of their actions on others.

Lying and Deceit: Living by a different moral code, psychopaths resort to lies and deceit to achieve their goals, deflecting blame onto others and manipulating situations to their advantage.

Parasitical Behaviour: Corporate psychopaths thrive on taking credit for others’ ideas and work, acting as corporate vampires seeking to leech confidence and valuable contributions.

Unpredictable Behaviour: Employees may experience confusion as psychopathic bosses change their minds frequently without admitting it, showcasing unpredictable and tormenting behaviour.

Emotional Powerplay: Skilled in manipulating emotions, psychopaths elicit pity and compassion to achieve their objectives, playing on others’ vulnerabilities.

Power-Hungry: Psychopaths gravitate towards leadership positions to fulfil their need for control, often stepping on subordinates to impress superiors.

Narcissism: Driven solely by self-interest, psychopathic leaders may feign warmth and friendliness but reveal their true egotistical nature when their interests are no longer served.

Surviving a Psychopathic Boss

If you suspect your boss is a psychopath, leaving immediately might not be a viable option. Consider the following tips:

Stay Under the Radar
Minimise visibility while planning your next move to avoid becoming a target for psychopathic behaviour.

Record Inappropriate Conduct
Document all incidents with dates and witnesses, providing a valuable advantage when dealing with a psychopath’s deceitful tendencies.

Stay Calm
When faced with abuse, defend yourself calmly and privately, preventing your supervisor from taking advantage of your emotional reactions.

Avoid Bad Mouthing
Maintain professionalism even in the face of a psychopathic boss, refraining from negative comments that could potentially harm your future professional endeavours.


As Dr. Boddy highlights the prevalence of corporate psychopathy and its potential consequences, it becomes imperative for individuals and organisations to be vigilant in identifying these destructive leaders. Recognising the warning signs and employing strategic measures to navigate a working relationship with a psychopathic boss are crucial steps in safeguarding one’s well-being and contributing to the creation of viable, sustainable work environments. 

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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