How Psychopaths Climb Corporate Ladders
Summary by J. Scarlet
From the books, Snakes in Suits by Dr. Paul Babiak & Dr. Robert Hare, Corporate Psychopaths: Organizational Destroyers by Dr. Clive Boddy and Working with Monsters by Dr. John Clarke
Psychopaths employ a particular pattern of tactics to enter corporations and rise up corporate ladders, (Babiak & Hare, 103). They bear certain characteristics that make them appear to be ideal candidates for jobs. Lying and manipulating come naturally for them, so they can create compelling resumes that make them look good to potential employers, (104). Since they are charming and don’t get nervous like normal people do, they come off as confident, assertive, intelligent, and smooth during interviews.
The Assessment Phase
Once hired, corporate psychopaths begin assessing their new environments. They pay close attention to relationships among workers and to the cultures of the organizations, (Babiak & Hare, 122). They study their responsibilities and the company policies so they know where the loop-holes are and what explanations they can create if any questions or complaints should arise, (Clarke, 173).
Psychopaths use their charm to make good impressions on others and to gain their trust, (Babiak & Hare, 48-49). They also observe everyone’s personalities so they can custom tailor personas that fit with what they think people will like to hear. They act very accepting of others and can become so popular that they gain the trust and loyalty of many, (74 & 125). Over time, a rapport is established with the employees and a false perception of who they are is solidified, (Clarke, 134-135).
While they are befriending everyone, corporate psychopaths are also assessing each person’s value so they can see of what use they might be to them, (Babiak, & Hare, 74). Some people will be used for information, money or connections, while others will be used to protect and defend the psychopath’s behavior, (125 & 127).
The Manipulation Phase
Once corporate psychopaths have developed good reputations within their companies, they begin manipulating others for the purposes of entertainment, advancing in the companies and gaining power, (Babiak & Hare, 128). They cause conflict and confusion for fun and to distract attention away from their inappropriate behaviors, (Boddy, 59). They engage in intimidating behavior and also encourage bullying in the workplace.
Corporate psychopaths are very clever at manipulating communication between employees, (Babiak & Hare, 128). They spread disinformation to make themselves look good, to make their rivals look bad, and to keep others from uncovering the truth. They are even able to con some coworkers into carrying their workloads for them, (132).
People who the psychopaths are not attempting to manipulate might be able to see how the psychopaths are using others, (Babiak, & Hare, 126). These people may try to warn the others about how manipulative the psychopath is being. If this occurs and the psychopaths hear about this, they are so smooth that they will easily blame these concerns on things like a misunderstanding or an envy of their popularity.
Corporate psychopaths prefer operating in private, using bonds with individuals to gain information and support that they can use to advance their careers and to destroy the careers of their rivals, (Babiak & Hare, 130). They manipulate groups from behind the scenes and appear to be friends with everyone when really they are controlling the entire situation, (Clarke, 110).
The Ascension Phase
Once all the key players in the corporate psychopath’s games have successfully been manipulated, the psychopaths direct their attention to being promoted, (Babiak & Hare, 140). It is common for them to select targets among senior management to befriend, (Clarke, 107). Charming the manager’s personal assistants and developing relationships with them can also help open the door for future promotions, (108).
As corporate psychopaths are promoted within their companies, they enjoy having more power and control over the people around them, (Clarke, 112). Usually when they reach the higher level ranks in organizations, they begin implementing strategies that cause unnecessary stress for their employees, because they enjoy watching people suffer.