Disordered Leadership

We tend to trust people of integrity yet still choose “self-centred, difficult and proud”​ people for leadership roles, despite thriving on instability, troublemaking, blame, discouragement and disrespect.

This article asks why might this be?

However a significant problem is that many people do not know what behaviour to look for in trying to identify such people for what they may actually be – people with such an unusual mindset-malaise they could have a personality disorder, perhaps one of society’s best kept secrets.

While many people can behave in a selfish, difficult, proud and contrary manner occasionally, especially under extreme pressure, to be classified as a PERSONALITY DISORDER the traits need to be “inflexible”, meaning “can be repeatedly observed without regards to time, place or circumstance” while also “interfering with a person’s ability to function well in society, including causing problems with interpersonal relationships” termed “functional impairment”.

One of the problems for the rest of society is that those with one or a combination of personality disorders may be oblivious to their disorder, unaware that their maladaptive behaviours and personalities are outside societal norms and blaming all their problems on everyone else.

What can society do about the challenges such people persistently pose? Why are they erroneously elected to seniority of position? Can their fundamental untrustworthiness and innate irresponsibility be predicted? And prevented?

Fortunately the answer is yes, but only when other people appreciate what behavioural traits to look for. This article outlines 6 years of psychological research into and 30 years experience with too many such charming liars.

Never again?

This subject matter is further explored in a Chapter in a Springer book published in January 2017 Perspectives on Philosophy of Management and Business Ethics entitled: Dispositional Attribution of Corporate Executives

TROUBLE MAKERS IN DISGUISE – DELIGHTING IN DISORDER AND REVELLING IN RUTHLESSNESS – SO WHY DO WE KEEP ELECTING THEM TO LEADERSHIP ROLES IN SOCIETY, WHAT ARE THEIR DEEP PERSONALITY TRAITS OR “DISPOSITIONAL ATTRIBUTION”, ARE THESE PREDICTABLE AND HOW SHOULD WE DEAL WITH THEM TO ENSURE THE ENTITY THEY LEAD IS PRIORITISED, NOT THEIR INNATE SELF INTEREST?

BETTER STILL, HOW CAN WE AVOID BEING FOOLED BY THEIR CHARM, CLEVER WORDS AND FALSE FLATTERY? MOST CRITICALLY, WHAT ARE THE TRAITS WHICH SOCIETY SHOULD INSTEAD BE LOOKING FOR IN ITS LEADERS TO SAFEGUARD THE REPUTATION OF ITS ORGANISATIONS AND WELFARE OF ITS PEOPLE?

PERHAPS WE ONLY REALLY APPRECIATE THE MOST RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE, WHO FORTUNATELY DO LEAD THE MAJORITY OF SOCIETAL ORGANISATIONS, ENTITIES AND NATIONS, WHEN WE COMPARE THEM WITH THE TRAITS ASSOCIATED WITH IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE, WHOSE CHARACTER SOME MAY CONSIDER TO BE DUBIOUS AND WHOSE EXTRAORDINARY PERSONAL GOALS MAY NOT COINCIDE WITH THOSE OF THE ORGANISATION AND PEOPLE THEY LEAD?

Henry Ford is renowned to have observed that ‘you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do’.

Many leaders and managers are adept at “talking the talk”, but fewer prove themselves capable of “walking the walk” when their organisation and its people face their more difficult challenges.

Maybe we need to better appreciate the many merits of more intuitive, emotionally intelligent, modest and collaborative peacemakers, with an active conscience and greater depths of character including integrity, honesty, humility, dignity and common decency, with deep emotional (as well as cognitive, practical or exclusively rational) empathy and concern for the people they safely and responsibly lead. It is such enthusiastically wonderful people with a sense of humour (not directed at humiliating others) who create, maintain and augment more welcoming, harmonious, constructive, encouraging, righteous, tolerant, agreeable, inclusive, creative, fun-loving, loyal, generous, collaborative, cooperative, more stable, dignified and safer organisational cultures, conducive to people performing near to their potential.

Such positive, cheerful and constructive leaders appreciate that when they prioritise “doing the right thing” they safeguard trust and reputation – those invisible yet invaluable cornerstones of longer-term business and organisational success.

Being givers more interested in others than themselves, with a genuine interest in both other people and the welfare of society itself, they can be better trusted to manage and lead the organisations and entities of our society, especially when compared with the flawed character, over-confidence, thinly-veiled arrogance, troublemaking and dangerous deceit associated with self-centred, emotionally deficient, difficult, disloyal and proud takers, being more fundamentally interested in themselves than others.

While some “constructive leaders” cope admirably with crises, other more dangerously “destructive managers” and perhaps even “disordered leaders” plot deceit and distrust, disloyalty and disharmony, disturbance and dissension, devise dramas, scheme strife, cause conflict and create crises.

These tricky and untrustworthy troublemakers and warmongers, avail of empty promises, fawningly false flattery, sycophantic insincerity and skin-deep charm to seditiously succeed (much of the time) in masking their true inner coldness, absent empathy, cloaked conscience, hidden hatreds and perhaps terrible tendencies so the disunity, dissonance and mayhem which arises from their lies, deceit, blame, delusional distortions of reality, devious mind games and mendacious mission of manipulation of other people cleverly cannot be traced back to them, at least in the short-term.

Despite being adverse to harmonious compromise and being naturally combative, preferring competition to cooperation and conflict to sensible consideration and resolution of issues, given their necessity to “get their own way” and “win at all costs”, often preferring to do the opposite of what others propose to be the optimum course of action, no matter the walk in life and irrespective of any adverse consequences for other people, groups, organisations, entities, states and nations (inconsequential to those fundamentally only interested in themselves), extraordinarily such “selfish, difficult, proud and stubborn” people, brazen bullies, consistently contrary and perversity personified, incorrigible troublemakers and wicked warmongers, exceptionally self-centred, innately insensitive to the needs of others and ultimately quite irresistibly reckless and irresponsible, frequently hold significant positions of responsibility for others throughout society.

Those who are amongst life’s most icily individualistic, coldly calculating and frigidly factual people, who thrive on fear, intimidation and manipulation, are also well versed in ACTING as if they were warm-hearted and interested in other people, a state they can only imagine given their significant sympathy shortage and dreadful dearth of kind emotions… UNTIL their self-interest is in any way challenged when they bury the pretence and the charming “mask of normality” they habitually wear to clandestinely conceal the revenge-seeking reality of they really being wolves in sheep’s clothing, drops to reveal the depths of their innate anger, aggression, enmity, hostility, boorish belligerence and real ruthlessness, all of which and many, many more destructive tendencies constantly lie just beneath the surface… waiting to pounce on innocent and unsuspecting victims who (in their mind) in any way threaten their self-interest.

Exceptionally self-centred people pervade society and its wide variety of institutions, often prevailing especially in business where the rewards for their selfish, often devious and sometimes intimidatory and ruthless behaviour, featuring a callous disregard for the opinions, interests and feelings of others and the impact of their decisions and actions on other people, are potentially far greater than in any other walk of life.

While many are open, honest and truthful, eminent psychologist Hervey Cleckley describes others as showing:

“a remarkable disregard for truth and is to be trusted no more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of present intentions… incapable of ever attaining realistic comprehension of an attitude in other people which causes them to value truth and cherish truthfulness in themselves… After being caught in shameful and gross falsehoods, after repeatedly violating his most earnest pledges, he finds it easy, when another occasion arises, to speak of his word of honour…The conception of living up to his word seems, in fact, to be regarded as little more than a phrase…

The result of his conduct brings trouble not only to others but almost as regularly to himself… 


Concepts in which meaning or emotional significance are considered along with the mechanically rational, if applied to this man, measure him as very small, or very defective… 

He is unfamiliar with the primary facts or data of what might be called personal values and is altogether incapable of understanding such matters. He is, furthermore, lacking in the ability to see that others are moved. It is as though he were colourblind, despite his sharp intelligence, to this aspect of human existence. It cannot be explained to him because there is nothing in his orbit of awareness that can bridge the gap with comparison. He can repeat the words and say glibly that he understands, and there is no way for him to realise that he does not understand…


In complex matters of judgment involving ethical, emotional, and other evaluational factors, in contrast with matters requiring only (or chiefly) intellectual reasoning ability, he shows no evidence of a defect. So long as the test is verbal or otherwise abstract, so long as he is not a direct participant, he shows that he knows his way about. He can offer wise decisions not only for others in life situations but also for himself so long as he is asked what he would do (or should do, or is going to do). When the test of action comes to him we soon find ample evidence of his deficiency… 


Only when the subject sets out to conduct his life can we get evidence of how little his good theoretical understanding means to him, of how inadequate and insubstantial are the apparently normal basic emotional reactions and motivations convincingly portrayed and enunciated but existing in little more than two dimensions…


His subjective experience is so bleached of deep emotion that he is invincibly ignorant of what life means to others…[He is] profoundly limited in ability to participate seriously in the major aims of life…

[His] unreliability and his disregard for obligations and for consequences are manifested in both trivial and serious matters… 


Nearly always he does refuse and successfully oppose the efforts of his relatives to have him cared for…

If we consider… the vast number of similar people in every community who show the same behaviour pattern in milder form but who are sufficiently protected and supported by relatives to remain at large, the prevalence of this disorder is seen to be appalling…


These people… present a problem which must be better understood by lawyers, social workers, schoolteachers, and by the general public if any satisfactory way of dealing with them is to be worked out. ”

To which groups many more could be added, notably those with responsibility for hiring, promoting and firing within our organisations and those who select people believing them to be worthy of being trusted to serve others in public office, not themselves.

Society needs more self-less than self-serving people in managerial and leadership roles.

While many people seek convergence by way of many forms of cooperation, bridge-building and peacemaking, a minority covertly seek divergence by way of many forms of competition, conflict and troublemaking, thriving on being difficult and irresponsible, preferring to oppose sensible paths to progress.

While many people take great pleasure in making people feel good, others seem to derive great satisfaction from degrading others.

They inhabit a different world which others need to understand and adapt to.

Their response to situations can be so bizarre that this can leave observers so confused that they may have no idea how to respond themselves, until in due course they may observe how repetitive their behaviour can be.

There are many related behavioural traits “selfish, difficult, proud and perverse” people can display, especially when put under pressure or their self-interest is in any way challenged. For instance here are 30 amongst many more:

  • They demand respect but deny it to others. Being disrespectful seems to give them a thrill, quite the opposite of leaders who inspire the achievements of their people by way of giving them their respect.
  • Satisfying their own needs can be their primary, perhaps only, concern. Some savour being unkind and can derive a particular pleasure being disdainful of others. Their world revolves around themselves.
  • They can thrive on being spiteful, malicious, unforgiving and vindictive, holding grudges for many years for what may not have been more than a slight criticism or critique, which creates an environment in which others have to tread very carefully in what they say and do, given that even kindness towards them can be misinterpreted. It is characteristics such as these which do not endear them to other people and make them highly inappropriate supervisors, managers or leaders of people in any walk of life. Anyone who dares criticise them, no matter how constructively, is not likely to benefit from career progression. If they cannot adequately manage their own emotions in a generally positive manner, how can they be expected to show any responsibility for those of others or guide them positively and constructively?
  • At its most basic their outlook is me not we or us and this guides much of their behaviour. Until this is understood they will be misunderstood.
  • Their mindset is essentially quite different and others may only learn how to adapt their own behaviour to more adequately deal with them when they begin to better understand how their distorted mind operates.
  • It should not be a surprise to hear them talking about doing the right thing one day then doing precisely the opposite the next, especially if doing so also happens to facilitate them achieving their own ambitions.
  • Not known for reflection before speaking or acting, they can appear to behave in a rash and hasty manner. They can act spontaneously based on what seem to be impulses and whims, in a manner that many others would later regret, although for them any form of repentance can be rare.
  • They require and seek praise (and even praise themselves when no-one else is) but, thriving on being discouraging and disliking being encouraging, find it hard to genuinely say “thanks” or “well done”.
  • The extent of the positivity when relating stories of themselves and especially their talents and achievements can be so incredible, literally, that they defy belief. Yet this does not deter them from both appearing to believe these things themselves nor from broadcasting them to others, even if total fiction.
  • They are constantly critical but overreact to anything they perceive to be criticism, even if not or none was intended.
  • They damage trust when they lie, deceive, manipulate and seek to assassinate the character of those they believe to be opponents, often quite falsely.
  • They actually seem to believe their own lies, deceit, perjuries, falsehoods and misinterpretations.
  • They want others to do what they want, yet may themselves be incapable of taking advice.
  • There is a significant disconnect between their words and deeds. To them, (shallow) words and (empty) promises are meaningless and un-heartfelt, lacking sincerity or association with genuine effort to follow them with appropriate or beneficial action.
  • They want others to understand them for their idiosyncrasies but show little or no genuine interest in other people.
  • They want others to forgive them for their errors but cannot say sorry when they are wrong, nor even seem to experience remorse.
  • They want others to be grateful towards them but towards others have an attitude of ingratitude.
  • They seem to forget what their true job responsibilities should be, or to whom, yet do not forget those people who they believe have wronged them.
  • They hold deep grudges often for trivial reasons, not even satisfied by extracting severely disproportionate revenge.
  • They can talk about “doing the right thing” but at key times their decisions and actions show that they just do what most satisfies them, especially if this disadvantages others.
  • They prefer “winning at all costs” to “win-win outcomes”, so get a greater kick out of life when others are seen to lose.
  • They prefer being disagreeable, competitive and combative so struggle to be agreeable, co-operative and collaborative, seeking victories not compromise.
  • They perversely prefer to do the opposite of what others propose to be the most appropriate course of action.
  • In due course their peers themselves learn to recommend the opposite of what they believe to be best, knowings its diametric will most likely be selected by their Disordered Leader, bringing some sense of order amidst the chaos, indeed in many respects quite the opposite of what people expect of those chosen to manage and lead organisations.
  • They can be quite childlike – the most important thing in their lives can seem to be “getting their own way”.
  • They want everyone else to change to suit them but don’t seem to be capable of changing their own behaviour.
  • They may appear to be inconsistent, contradictory and perverse, but with greater familiarity can be seen to be entirely predictable.
  • They are intolerant of other people’s errors but psychologists believe may be incapable of learning from their prior experiences and mistakes – Groundhog Day.
  • They know they should be interested in the people they are managing and leading but fundamentally are only capable of being interested in themselves.
  • Their necessity to control can become quite uncontrollable.

They perceive other people as being there to serve them, the entity they lead becomes their personal plaything and the power they are trusted with they abuse to advantage themselves and their sycophantic cronies.

They are fundamentally untrustworthy and irresponsible yet somehow we trust them with positions of responsibility for other people who ultimately they treat with disdain and contempt, being inferior to themselves.

Ironically such “entitled” people struggle to notice that it is their own peculiar behaviour, notably the inappropriateness or inadequacy of their words and deeds, which deny them the “special respect” they insatiably crave.

Lacking empathy and emotional intelligence, they fail to appreciate that respect is earned when behaviour and attitudes warrants it, not when esteem is demanded and expected, when indeed it may be most unwarranted.

To them, words are shallow and promises are empty, both utterly meaningless and absolutely un-heartfelt, lacking any real sincerity or association with any genuine effort to follow them with any appropriate or beneficial action, irrespective of the apparently convincing conviction with which they can be spoken, fooling some of the people some of the time.

Words, like people and relationships, can be easily discarded, neither being felt with any degree of what others would describe or experience as emotion. Indeed their words and their emotions could be considered to be equally shallow and empty. Just like being unkind or even cruel in deed, saying something untrue or deeply disparaging does not seem to cost them a bother.

Feeling little or no guilt means words and the truth lack any meaningful connection.

They seem to lack a sense of what may be wrong.

So day after day they seek to turn trust into distrust, cooperation into conflict, harmony into disharmony, unity into disunity and order into disorder, for no apparent reason except they just get a great personal “kick” out of creating confusion and chaos, harm and havoc and, if they can get away with it, even mayhem and anarchy, without experiencing any regret whatsoever, no matter the severity of the consequences for anyone other than themselves, fundamentally all they care about.

Incredibly we permit such cold-hearted, callous, nefarious and villainous people to manage and lead, or mismanage and mislead, our organisations and nations, resulting in far too many innocent victims of their mendacious malice.

The potentially catastrophic impact on interpersonal trust and organisational reputation can appear to be ignored or only scantily considered, given the excessive focus on financial reward and “winning at all costs”, almost irrespective of the downside risk, not the priority of managers and leaders who somehow extraordinarily (or not) fail to see the consequences or their culpability, even after their organisation has collapsed with many people’s lives adversely affected.

Just like what may be their greatest personal cognitive disability, do we never seem to learn from our prior experiences, especially our mistakes? Do we seem to be doomed to repeat them by appointing such fundamentally inappropriate and childlike people, fundamentally more destructive than constructive, who not only play mind games with the emotions of other people, aim to destroy the good names of right-minded, well-intentioned, much kinder and more considerate people who try to “do the right thing”, eradicate the critical value of trust and perhaps irreparably demolish the reputations of the organisations and entities they lead, but also in so doing damage the very fabric of our societies?

They can display severe mood swings, ups and down and intense reactions, which may seem rapid, exaggerated and disproportionate to the circumstances, described by psychologists as “emotional lability”. Their behaviour and emotional responses may appear to others to be easily triggered, impulsive, unstable and potentially even dangerous, causing (unnecessary) distress to others who have to “walk on eggshells” and adapt how they deal with their “emotional incontinence”.

The fact that those lacking emotions which most people possess have been shown to so readily (perhaps innately and unwittingly) engage in high levels of pathological lying and deceit, cunning manipulation and egocentric, callous and impulsive behaviour, characterised by a lack of responsibility, empathy and remorse, are also well versed in using their charm, confidence and arrogance to hide their true traits even from experienced psychologists poses many challenges for society, especially when we allow such people drive our organisations and entities down roads inevitably leading to chaos and disharmony rather than aspiring to genuinely collective progress based on harmony and co-operation.

Perhaps one of our greatest challenges is to “see through” such challenging people and no longer employ, promote and elect them to positions for which they are so fundamentally unsuitable, displaying what psychologists term “consistent irresponsibility”, capable of routinely acting against the common good and doing so with what they describe as “emotional impunity”.

No matter how well they manage to disguise their true inner coldness, eventually their maltreatment of others, allied to the degree of lies, deceipt, manipulation and character assassination they engage in does become noticed.

No matter how subtle they try to be (not usually their strength) eventually the absolute degree of their self-centredness and necessity to control can no longer be masked by their skin-deep charisma.

No longer should those who bring out the worst in other people, who derive their own happiness from damaging the happiness of others and who can even be unhappy seeing people happy with others (in any walk of life), ever be given responsibility for managing or leading people, given their inability to constructively manage their own emotions let alone those of others.

The rest of society needs to be open to and supportive of those with the wisdom, perception, perseverance, vision and courage to see the necessity to prevent the Disordered Leader takesgetting their own way” to such extreme lengths that winning at all costs” and seeming to be oblivious to the consequences of their troublemaking distorts the truth and damages not only other people but the organisation, entity or nation which employs them.

Preferably, with greater societal awareness of their true inner coldness, fundamental irresponsibility, untrustworthiness and typical behavioural traits, they can be denied seniority of position in the first place, given their inability to be consistently open-minded, conciliatory, reasonable and responsible.

Somehow such “leaders” (if they warrant being described so inappropriately) fail to appreciate that people don’t generally respond well to fear and intimidation, nor being set a bad example, nor bullied what to do.

Anyone (or almost anyone) can be kind to life’s kindest people. Those who adapt their own thoughts and actions sufficiently to deal with a minority of troublemakers in a calm, patient and considered manner may learn to appreciate that responding to cruelty with kindness can be one of life’s most powerful and satisfying experiences, described by Francis of Assisi as “conquering oneself”.

Fortunately, the rest of society is more than capable of learning from its many prior errors arising from appointing “destructive” rather than “constructive” people to seniority of position, capable of motivation, stimulation and inclusion while incapable of fear-based demotivation and conflict, especially when astutely led people selflessly and collectively feel inspired to prioritise the “common good” over what most motivates the self-centredly Disordered Leader: “what’s in it for me?”

People expect high standards of those in leadership positions. They expect society’s leaders to practice what they preach and display their integrity by “doing the right thing even when no-one is looking”.

Astute, strong and courageous leaders know that DOING THE WRONG THING WHEN EVERYONE IS LOOKING could never be described as leadership let alone leadership with integrity.

Their concept of right and wrong differs from that of many other people. “Always right and never wrong” could almost sum them up as they find it difficult to contemplate the prospect of their own opinion, viewpoint, belief, sentiment or decision not being the correct and final one and will defend it, irrespective of the consequences for anyone or anything else, sometimes even to their own personal disadvantage, such is their necessity to “win at all costs” and their inability to admit they may have been wrong.

When it comes to “getting their own way” somehow their ability to rationally consider issues, including morally which they are capable of doing abstractly or in hypothetical discussions and deliberations, appears to be totally suspended given what appears to be the primacy in their own mind of their absolute necessity to be seen to personally prevail. They must be seen to be the victor and others the losers and nothing else seems to matter. Their insatiable requirement to achieve their “IPG goal” of “instantaneous personal gratification” can seem to override all other factors so much so that prior discussions and apparent agreements can be totally ignored as if on a whim based solely and exclusively on consideration of “what’s in it for me?”. This can leave others involved quite baffled and confused – until they experience this so frequently that they learn how to predict such behaviour.

Fundamentally they can seem to lack the ability of knowing what is right from what may be wrong when it comes to actions, behaviour and decision-making.

They are adept at “talking the talk” and can give the impression of being principled and conscientious, except when it comes to actual behaviour, especially when their perceived self-interest is at stake when they will be seen to be incapable of either “walking the talk” or “walking the walk”.

While many people possess the ability to take the longer-term perspective when decision-making, theirs could not even be described as short-term, rather instantaneous actions and reactions solely based on their feelings and whims at that precise moment, totally considerate of themselves and extraordinarily inconsiderate of others.

One matter though which they do take a long-term perspective at is holding grudges, as their ability to see grievances when there may be none can lead them to mistake genuine, well-intentioned differences of opinion as being personal attacks. What may initially appear to be “pride”could transpire to be a far deeper malaise. They can hold a grudge against someone for an eternity (“I will destroy you”) even after extracting disproportionate revenge, including deceitful and fictitious “distortion campaigns” aimed at “character assassination” of those who may not quite figure out what they did to offend them.

This extraordinary mindset may take other people quite some time to understand, if at all, which places the onus on all others involved to try and engineer situations so that the self-interest of the key decision-maker appears to coincide with what may most benefit the group at large, those they are supposed to be prioritising but are actually fundamentally and utterly incapable of putting first, especially before themselves.

Which is why, at its most basic, society needs more self-less givers genuinely more interested in others than themselves as leaders (and role models) and most certainly not self-centred takers, fundamentally more interested in themselves than others.

Being essentially cold, unemotional, unkind and some perhaps even cruel, they find it a great challenge to show mercy on occasions when this could build bridges between people or peoples rather than dismantle them. Their true mindset seems to be exclusively me, me, me and doing “whatever it takes” to achieve their personal goals including just “getting their own way”, totally and absolutely inconsiderate of the interests and needs of other people.

Winning at all costs” seems to give them more pleasure when this involves others losing. Their sense of personal advantage which they prioritise is enhanced when this coincides with other people and groups being disadvantaged. Extraordinarily, this does not just mean more apparent rivals but even peers and colleagues as, to them, everyone is a potential rival.

Yet time after time after time again, we trust such untrustworthy, reckless and irresponsible people with positions of responsibility throughout our global societies.

Being fundamentally reckless, they are more likely to wreak havoc and wreck not only organisations and all other entities, including nations, but also directly and indirectly other people’s lives, none of which are their concern. Then when all has collapsed, including the organisations they mis-led, they can wonder what they did wrong.

What a mistake trusting them with responsibility can prove to be, especially when their superficial charm proves to be only skin-deep and their thinly-veiled truer personas and more individualistic motivations can become more apparent, or be exposed, when it is alas often too late to undo the damage they insidiously do.

Do we never seem to learn?

Perhaps now is the time for us to do so and ensure that, as well as many other abilities and talents required of managers and leaders, we try to only appoint givers to positions of responsibility in society, those who are genuinely more interested in others than themselves, especially those that are trusted to responsibly manage and lead.

No matter how well the takers try to pretend to be interested in other people and societal bodies, their words will transpire to be insincere and their promises quite empty, just like their “shallow effect” and cold hearts which, being devoid of warm-emotions, deprives them of the ability to empathise with other people nor understand what they experience and most desire.

When other people are only perceived or experienced as if they were any inanimate object, no different from a shopfront mannequin, it is too much to expect that such emotionally-depleted and kindness-deficient people will engage in “humane decision-making”, no matter how smart-talking or apparently talented and intelligent they can ceaselessly strive to appear to be.

In their case some of them can appear to fool all of the people all of the time because, other than psychiatrists and psychologists with particular expertise in a range of personality disorders, most other members of society (quite understandably) appear to be as clueless in understanding what may be their true “mindset-malaise” as they themselves can be at trying to understand the emotions and motivations of people capable of functioning normally in society.

It took the author 25 years in industry before being advised by a psychologist that the reason why the most difficult and damaging people he had encountered, who seemed to derive pleasure being hurtful towards others in business without apparent scruples, could be narcissistic and/or other personality disorder(s). It is quite plausible that many could retire without fully understanding the most challenging people they had crossed paths with throughout their career. This is particularly so when the behaviour such provocative people typically display is precisely the opposite of what most would associate with building and maintaining relationships.

Perhaps those with a reasonable understanding of their challenging behaviour have a responsibility to share one of life’s greatest secrets, so others can also learn how to better adapt to their challenges, to minimise the damage and harm they can do, not only to the emotions of other people but also the very organisations which employ them?

Is there an onus on responsible and kind people to share their insight into such irresponsible self-centredness, sometimes cruelty, and the varying degrees of their inability to understand others, nor show any genuine interest in them, the core of any successful relationship?

But we, unlike them, ARE capable of learning from our prior experiences, including mistakes, the most egregious of which can transpire to be trusting such fundamentally untrustworthy people with responsibility for our people and institutions when they are so innately and perhaps impossibly irresponsible.

Can we learn from our many mistakes when we are initially (and understandably) fooled by their apparent charm and clever language? Although there may actually be no real connection between their smart words and subsequent self-centred actions and unchangeable behaviour which, with sufficient experience, can be seen not to be bizarre but entirely and absolutely predictable?

Yes we can!

At the end of the (unnecessarily long) day, those (unfortunate people) with sufficient dealings with such “selfish, difficult, stubborn and proud” people gradually appreciate that what gives the game away to what may be their true mindset and motivations – is their very own words and misdeeds – which they struggle to change.

When their perceived self-interest is in any way challenged, such “impossible” people find it impossible to continue to wear the “mask of normality” when their false flattery, obsequious insincerity and cheap charisma can no longer hide their deep inner coldness, absent empathy, cloaked conscience and hidden hatreds.

When society better learns to appreciate and anticipate their predictable behaviour, they CAN be denied seniority of positions and make our organisations (and world) a safer place.

Of the multitude of characteristics which contribute to trustworthy and responsible management and leadership, the positive and kind personalities of those who find it EASY TO LOVE AND IMPOSSIBLE TO HATE appear to contribute to them leading in a more constructive, encouraging and collaborative manner, contributing to more stable and safer organisational cultures, than those more destructive people who find it EASY TO HATE AND IMPOSSIBLE TO LOVE, who thrive on disrespect, deceit and many forms of discouragement, preferring troublemaking, conflict, confusion and disharmony to encouragement, cooperation, peacemaking and harmony, quite the opposite of that expected when people join together to achieve some common purpose.

Ultimately, when we consider the personality of those we trust to manage other people in all the organisations and entities of our societies, if we are not to repeat the mistakes of our combative history as a human race we need to better appreciate that:

“as far as leadership is concerned,

all the intelligence in the world may be of little or no value,

if none of it is emotional.”

There is an expression that 

“business ethics begins where the law ends” 

suggesting that what is legal is only the starting point in evaluating what is right rather than the sole determinant. The same applies across society. Those who have to resort to stating “we did not break any rules” are often the most culpable and (should) know they could have done better if their behaviour were to be judged as having been of the highest integrity.

“Would you do business with someone you don’t trust?” 

could easily be amended to “would you choose to elect or promote someone you don’t trust?”

The likely impact on those critical qualities we call trust and reputation can appear too often not to be at the forefront of the minds of “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” decision-makers when they choose to seek an unfair advantage, benefitting themselves or disadvantaging others, irrespective of any harmful consequences for other people, groups, organisations, nature and even regions or nations.

It is in situations such as these when authentic leadership is most required, with leaders in all areas of society prioritising those they lead and represent, not themselves.

______________________________________________________________

A mantra of “speak of others as you would like them to speak about you” is likely to enhance rather than damage mutual respect.

Oscar Wilde may have said 

“to lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness”. 

Those who make a genuine one-off mistake perhaps deserve a second chance and should be dealt with differently than those who fail to earn from their experiences or deliberately engage in wrongdoing.

With so many people seeking to find trouble whether it exists or not, having “peacemaking” as a policy may deny the more sensationalist people and media the oxygen they need to cause trouble. “Turning the other cheek” to provocation turns the tables on the troublemakers.

Treating everyone the same no matter who they may be is a great way of making friends and not losing any. Treating everyone as being important prevents the embarrassment when someone previously ignored or disrespected actually does transpires to be important.

A person of integrity – a whole person – behaves in the same manner in all areas of their life, treating everyone well both at home and at work. This may be all the more important when “work” involves being in the public eye.

Martin Luther King could have been referring to the key role which “public” people play in society and the “big picture” choices they face when he said that:

“Everyone must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism

or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Maybe people do not sufficiently state how they dislike the dark side of mind games and cheating which some believe is necessary, even if it may transpire to have conferred little real advantage, but instead resulted in neutrals hoping the lights go out on those who prefer darkness to light.

Fortuitously it is only a minority of people who thrive on instability, troublemaking and blame, disruption, disharmony and discord, disagreement, discouragement and disrespect, disloyalty, deceit and distrust, conflict, control and chaos, intolerance, impatience and restlessness, arrogance, meanness and tactlessness, many forms of negativity and unkindness, even subtle or overt cruelty including disparagement and humiliation, ignoring advice and doing precisely the opposite, forming dislikes for little reason, holding deep grudges even after they have extracted disproportionate revenge, engaging in character assassination and practicing exclusion, devaluing people by denying them the opportunity to make their contribution to discussions and deliberations, all quite the opposite behaviour of that expected of people when they join together to achieve some common purpose.

Why might this be? And what can the rest of society do about the challenges such people persistently pose? Why are they erroneously elected to seniority of position?For some in society is self-interest a conscious decision or a state of mind? How can they seem to know the right thing to do, then don’t do it? What are the implications for society if some people may be incapable of moral reasoning, especially when decision-making?

Can their fundamental untrustworthiness and innate irresponsibility be predicted?

Fortunately the answer is yes, so they can be prevented from causing hurt, harm and even havoc irrespective of the environment, but only when more responsible and trustworthy people appreciate what behavioural traits to look for.

When the more innately self-centred leaders of an organisation or other entity insufficiently appreciate their own people and their multitude of talents and interests, they fail to recognise that an inspired, contented workforce is more likely to contribute to collectively achieving organisational goals than a disenchanted group of individuals who operate in an unnecessarily competitive and perhaps even combative and ethically challenging environment, contributed to by the “dispositional attribution” of managers and leaders:

“their personal traits and internal characteristics as opposed to the situational or external influences which arise from environment or culture.”

The depth of personal integrity of an organisation’s dominant individuals contributes significantly to the prevailing level of corporate or organisational integrity, with some cultures facilitating and promoting and others prohibiting and hindering the personal integrity of employees coming to the fore.

Intolerance of low integrity by leaders of high personal integrity ensures unethical instances are not condoned or repeated, while the acceptance of low integrity by lesser leaders ensures instances are permitted and hence more likely to be repeated, given that the prevalent culture is less considerate of the critical longer term importance of trust and reputation, likened by the philosopher Socrates to a fire:

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.”

Ultimately people tend to discover whether their own managers and leaders are “authentic”, or not, including whether they seem to practice what they preach or there may even be a disconnect between their words and deeds, which in extremis may transpire to be one of the indications of a personality disorder.

They tend to trust those who are generally agreeable, approachable, astute, encouraging, respectful, cooperative, responsible, patient, calm, tolerant, open, honest and loyal by nature, essentially with a great deal of empathy, significant emotional intelligence and an active conscience, characteristics perhaps taken for granted until their absence or polar opposites are experienced, too frequently than necessary.

They respond well to the kind of people who make them look forward to coming in to work and, because they believe their contribution is valued and their talents appreciated, feel inspired to put their heart and soul into trying their best to satisfy the goals they have been set. They are trusted to engage collaboratively and constructively with their coworkers, with the freedom to challenge each other to consider better ways to do things in a generally positive and harmonious environment, perhaps even what psychologists refer to as “playful” or the Irish refer to as “craic”, conducive to people performing near to their potential.

They are fortunate to work with and for Constructive Leaders” who are fundamentally trustworthy and responsible.

Those they distrust include people who are frequently disagreeable, objectionable, perverse, contrary, disruptive, disrespectful, discouraging, arrogant, unapproachable, impatient, intolerant, hard to please, rude and crude, irresponsible and fundamentally only capable of loyalty to themselves, for whom the truth is inconsequential and their many versions of it can change on a daily basis, without scruples, traits which far too many people chosen for managerial and leadership roles innately display.

They are unfortunate to work with or more likely for “Destructive Leaders” who are fundamentally untrustworthy and irresponsible and may even be “Disordered Leaders”, which this piece discusses.

Somehow such “leaders” (if they warrant being described so inappropriately) fail to appreciate that people do not generally respond well to fear and intimidation, nor being set a bad example, nor ordered what to do in a “top-down” manner without being offered an opportunity for discussion of the issues and an appraisal of the possible outcomes, especially if these may be adverse.

Uninspired people, excluded from debate and denied the opportunity to contribute their own suggestions, even if subsequently ignored, fail to achieve anything remotely close to their true potential.

This can be especially so when the environment or “culture” is unnecessarily negative and even combative, hostile and uncooperative, indeed harmful, damaging and unhealthy, essentially more a reflection of the difficult mindset of their demanding leader(s), who psychologists believe can be quite CHILDLIKE, than any real belief in the merits of such counterintuitive and counterproductive managerial mal-practices.

US psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg proposed that people personally develop through six stages and three progressive levels of moral reasoning, with perhaps those most suitable for leadership being well capable of making moral choices from a genuine interest in others and respect for laws which, if unjust, may need changing (“social contract orientation”) and who can generalise moral principles beyond their own specific interests (“universal ethical principles”). Such people could be described as being principled and having a social conscience, making them appropriate for leadership roles in society.

However some adults do not appear to be capable of reasoning beyond the second “pre-conventional” level which prioritises achieving their own desires. Alarmingly, Kohlberg most associated this “self-interest orientation” with primary school children.

If some such unconventional people leading organisations may be incapable of reasoning morally beyond the stage typically associated with primary school children, the implications for society and the lives of people they encounter including in the workplace could be extremely serious.

When “what’s in it for me?” is combined with “getting my own way” and “winning at all costs” as primary motivators, is this really that different from what also motivates many primary school children?

So perhaps recognising some such adults to be emotional five year olds, primarily concerned with “getting their own way”, like some children not wanting to share their toys, may help others decide how best to respond to their sometimes apparently immature, childlike or infantile behaviour.

While this may be a surprise for many, it will not be for psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in the fascinating field of personality disorders. For instance, William and Joan McCord observed in 1964 that some challenging people can be:

“like an infant, absorbed in his own needs, vehemently demanding satiation.”

Emeritus professor of psychology Robert D Hare confirmed this observation in 1993:

“At an early age most children have already begun to postpone pleasure, compromising with restrictions in the environment. A parent can generally use a promise to put off satisfying a two-year-old’s desires, at least temporarily, but [some] never seem to learn this lesson – they do not modify their desires; they ignore the needs of others.”

One major challenge facing not only business but also society is to IDENTIFY the truer traits of such extraordinarily self-centred and perhaps childlike and infantile people and DENY them positions involving influence or power or, better still, do not employ them in the first place, no matter how considerable their other talents and how suitable they may otherwise appear.

Some people can appear to be very moody, with irregular emotional responses apparently out of proportion to the situation. They can display severe mood swings, ups and downs, intense reactions, strong emotions from laughter to anger or crying which may seem rapid, exaggerated and disproportionate to the circumstances, described by psychologists as “emotional lability”:

“an emotional response that is irregular or out of proportion to the situation at hand, associated with severe mood swings, intense reactions & dramatic changes in opinions and feelings. Mood lability is often evidenced by destructive or harmful behaviours. Those actions can include angry tantrums or screaming, destroying objects, aggression or violence towards others, and self-harm. The responses can occur seemingly out of nowhere, triggered in seconds. Mood lability is present in people with various mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and BPD [borderline personality disorder].”

Behaviour and emotional responses may appear to others to be easily triggered, impulsive, unstable and potentially even dangerous and most certainly inappropriate to the circumstances. Their behaviour may not appear to be related to the situation at hand, nor apparently to their actual emotional state, perhaps being involuntary displays of mood, which means those working with them may urgently need to learn how to “walk on eggshells” and adapt how they deal with their emotional incontinence.

The key managerial relevance could be that those who employ or promote people to senior positions may be wiser to avoid people who seem to have a disconnect between how they convey and how they manage their emotions.

Furthermore, a failure to learn from prior experiences including mistakes, akin to Groundhog Day, is an extraordinary trait associated with some self-centred people, whose emotional deficiencies psychologists believe make them:

“less likely to suspend goal-directed behaviour” and “undermines their ability to link events with environmental cues and thus learn from experience… If emotion fails to redirect [their] focus… then they will be less likely to learn the contextual variables that predict motivationally significant events. They will be less capable of appreciating the impact of their own actions on others or even on themselves.”

The repetitive challenges such people can present to all others can be compounded when those with power or authority possess a sense of entitlement, somehow believing that other people owe them respect due to the seniority of their position (and perhaps their belief in their undoubted natural superiority) rather than because of anything they have done to consistently warrant the esteem of those they are supposed to be leading by example.

The American Psychological Association describe entitlement as

“unreasonable claims to special consideration, especially as a disturbance of self-concept in narcissistic personality disorder.”

For entitled leaders”, the organisation becomes their own, their personal plaything which they can use and abuse for their personal advantage and pleasure, irrespective of the cost to others, which they may even be oblivious to, being so fundamentally focused on satisfying themselves and so utterly disinterested in those they have been mistakenly chosen to manage or lead.

Ironically “entitled leaders” struggle to notice that it is their own peculiar behaviour, notably the inappropriateness or inadequacy of their words and deeds, which deny them the “special respect” they insatiably crave.

No matter how hard such non-team-playing individuals try to give the impression they are interested in other people, they aren’t.

Perhaps they can’t be.

Yet we trust them to responsibly lead our organisations – despite being fundamentally irresponsible.

When their enormous ego and substantial sense of entitlement contributes to their thinking that they are more important than those they lead, they fail to appreciate that respect is earned when behaviour and attitudes warrants it, not when respect is demanded and expected, when indeed it may be most unwarranted.

Perhaps that is why Plato believed that those who did not actively seek positions of power may actually be best trusted with them.

People do respect those who practice “public praise and private criticism” and disrespect those who feel the need to criticise people in public, somehow believing that disparaging them in front of others (or behind their back) makes them appear strong and reinforces the power and authority associated with their mal-leadership.

People do respect those who use the power granted them constructively to bring individuals together to achieve the common goals of their organisation and disrespect those more covertly destructive people who abuse the power arising from their position of authority, typically involving disrespecting other people, failing to appreciate that the reasons they were trusted with power and authority did not include self-aggrandisement.

Many employees do appreciate that when sufficient admirable attributes including vision, courage, persistence, positivity and enthusiasm are consistently displayed by leaders of integrity, who show a genuine interest in other people and indeed society itself, who display personal humility, reserve their pride for applauding the achievements of their coworkers and notably “walk the talk”, the benefits of prioritising trustworthy relationships and the reputation of the organisation can be seen to outweigh the short term “benefits” arising from cutting a few corners.

When illegitimacy and skullduggery in their many forms are revealed and exposed, as they often can be, the real revelation can be that a short cut may actually transpire to have been the longest distance between two points. The decision to take a short cut bypassing integrity might transpire to be the start of a long journey on the winding and uphill road towards reputation restoration, with no guarantee that the desired destination may ever be reached.

Legitimate leadership includes avoiding decisions, actions and practices which, if exposed rather than remain covert, could damage trust and reputation, those invisible yet invaluable cornerstones of longer-term business and organisational success.

Legitimate leaders know that those who believe in “winning at all costs” and choose to cross the lines of what many might judge to be acceptable behaviour risk the loss of respect and trust, personal and collective, perhaps bringing their organisation and its sector, even nation, into disrepute.

Legitimate leaders know that some people see these situations as grey areas. Indeed a dilemma has been well described as a 

“situation seemingly beyond satisfactory resolution”

sometimes a choice between a number of rights or a number of wrongs. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

But legitimate leaders also know that many decisions are not dilemmas. They are actually black and white, a choice between right and wrong. They are only grey areas to those more used to taking risky and dodgy decisions.

Indeed “grey or gray areas” can be simplified and resolved by stepping back and considering a few maxims or rules of thumb. Indeed paraphrasing a few well known mantras from other areas of life could prove to be beneficial in finding a satisfactory resolution”.

Oscar Wilde quipped: 

“I can resist everything

except temptation” 

but what advice can be offered to those who may be tempted to cross the line of acceptable behaviour?

How can organisations avoid risking reputational damage, in a mere ten words?

Remembering and practicing the Blanchard and Peale phrase:

There is no right way

to do a wrong thing”

when facing decisions and especially dilemmas, can prove to be an invaluable source of astute guidance, but perhaps only to those CAPABLE of appreciating the associated wisdom, which our preferably peaceful planet’s history of business failures and international crises proves many leaders are not.

Otherwise apparent short term gain can rapidly and perhaps predictably turn to longer-term pain.

Do we never seem to learn?

Somehow some leaders can appear to be immune from an awareness of the possibility or probability of adverse outcomes arising from their riskier decisions, being so focused on maximising rewards and on winning, especially when this involves others losing, that somehow they lack the early-warning system which many people in positions of responsibility do possess which protects both the organisation and its people from unnecessary harm. For many this inner radar system often termed conscience does prevail in situations which could risk any likelihood of impaired relationships, damage to interpersonal trust or loss of personal and organisational reputation.

WHY do some people seem more than capable of both seeking and acting on wise advice, while for others they may even consistently prefer to do the opposite of what other people suggest, no matter how apt the advice?

WHY do some seem to prefer excessive risk-taking and be so focussed on the potential rewards that the added risks do not seem to be a deterrent?

WHY do some not seem to be capable of learning from their prior experiences, which they repeat, even when these have adverse consequences?

WHY do some thrive on building trustworthy long-term relationships, while others are more adept at damaging if not destroying them, irrespective of the consequences?

WHY do some people naturally avail of praise, encouragement and other forms of positivity to build collaborative organisations, while others thrive on negativity, criticism, discouragement, disquiet, disunity and even rumour-mongering and spreading not only distrust but even hatred?

WHY do some prioritise the interests of their organisation by employing and promoting the best available people, while others prioritise their self-interest by ignoring the merits of those more talented than they who may show up their inadequacies?

WHY do some encourage those they recognise as being talented and inspire them to achieve their potential, while others see them as threats and do everything they can not only to disrespect and discourage them but also disparage and speak adversely of them to others?

WHY do some only seem capable of seeing matters from their own perspective, especially “what’s in it for me”?

WHY do some build harmony while others seem to actively seek every opportunity to cultivate disharmony?

WHY are some innate peacemakers who remain calm during times of difficulty, while for others anger often appears to be just below the surface, as they create dramas and crises out of both minor and major situations and just cannot seem to stop themselves troublemaking?

WHY do some seek win-win outcomes from many situations while others have to “win at all costs”?

WHY do some appear to be insensitive to the needs of others yet seem to be exceptionally sensitive to personal criticism, even if none was intended?

WHY do some seem to be incapable of praising others yet seem to need praise so much that when not in receipt of it they will praise themselves?

WHY do some have no pity or sympathy for the plight of others yet seem to seek sympathy and pity for themselves?

WHY are some people warm-hearted with an abundance of empathy while others appear to be cold, calculating and quite ruthless?

WHY do some succeed in finding mutually agreeable compromises while for others “getting their own way” can seem to be their primary goal in almost all situations?

WHY do some people breed competition and conflict between supposed colleagues and seem to thrive in an environment or culture that can only be described as combative, which common sense alone would suggest is both counterintuitive and counterproductive, yet for some reason or reasons appears to be a scenario far too prevalent throughout not only national and international business but also many other areas of global society?

WHY do some make opportunities of their difficulties while others create difficulties out of opportunities?

Could it be due to the peculiar mindset or “dispositional attribution” of a minority of people in society which, if better known and more widely understood, would or should prohibit such exceptionally self-centred people from being trusted with supervisory let alone managerial or leadership positions, irrespective of the nature of the organisation which employs them?

Playwright and Oscar winning screenwriter Robert Oxton Bolton asserted that:

a belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses, but an idea that possesses the mind”.

For life’s most stubborn, difficult, proud and exceptionally self-centred people, who appear to operate both overtly and covertly at all levels and in all sectors of society, self-interest does not appear to be a conscious decision, one of a number of options to be rationally and morally reasoned and deliberated over.

Rather their extraordinary confidence, exceptional degree of self-belief and over-riding necessity to personally prevail, irrespective of the situation and severity of the consequences for other people and their organisation, would appear to possess their persona to such a degree that self-interest becomes their prevailing state of mind.

Even with spouses and children giving them the appearance of “normality”, many of society’s most challenging people lack any real emotional attachments with anyone else, are incapable of experiencing concern for others and with their innate and exclusive focus being on themselves, simply do not care about the welfare of other people.

Yet somehow we trust them with responsibility for both people and organisations, sometimes even nations, although we know they are more likely to abuse the power they are granted, supposedly in the service of others although we know this will not be their priority.

Why?

No matter what words of apparent wisdom they use, perhaps written by someone else, we know their actions will ultimately be predominantly self-serving… unless satisfying their own interests happens to coincides with that of others, as innately they can usually prefer to do the opposite of what others want them to do, as being disagreeable comes more naturally to them than being agreeable and being perverse or contrary seems to give them some form of pleasure.

Their profound lack of empathy, even if mostly masked by their apparent confidence and charisma, can prevent them from sharing in the emotions of others. Together with their lack of guilt and remorse for wrongdoing, this facilitates their behaving in a cold, calculated and self-centred manner which, at its worst, others may judge to be ruthless.

Those trying to undertake detailed research into what may really be happening in the mind of some of society’s most challenging people may eventually realise that they may not actually engage in significant rational or even irrational deliberation on many matters at all and certainly not what may be described as “moral reasoning”.

“IPG” may be the initials of a variety of business organisations, but what appears to motivate them most also appears to be what may be happening inside their mind, capable of being termed an “IPG goal” of achieving:

instantaneous personal gratification.”

Significant experience over a thirty year period with over 40 “illegitimate leaders” suggests that they do appear to be cognitive misers” (Fiske & Taylor 1984) who act onminimal information” (Rim et al, 2009) and take judgmental shortcuts that generally get us where we need to go—and quickly—but at the cost of occasionally sending us off course” (Gilovich & Savitsky 1996), as such “people rely on a limited number of heuristic principles which reduce the complex tasks of assessing probabilities and predicting values to simpler judgemental operations” (Tversky and Kahneman (1974) based on “the IPG goal” of each issue being rapidly resolved by their mind engaging in an automatic mental short-cut, by-passing most or all other processes including moral reasoning, absolutely indifferent to any cost to others, in taking the shortest and fastest possible route to satisfying their insatiable compulsion to achieve their primary and perhaps exclusive goal of “instantaneous personal gratification”, by way of the sole and spontaneous consideration of only one matter which could be termed the “what’s in it for me heuristic”.

Despite the possibility of their more furtive actions being exposed, this risk does not seem to deter some individuals and groups from engaging in actions and behaviour which could be extremely damaging to other people and both their and their organisations’ reputation, should the matter be revealed.

COULD this be because they are so confident that they believe themselves to be both “invincible” and “invulnerable” and hence can engage in many forms of illegitimate behaviour without being deterred by the array of possible consequences?

COULD this be because some cannot adequately experience fear and risky situations are not experienced any differently in their minds from more routine matters?

COULD some people really be so innately focussed on themselves and satisfying their own desires that they may be incapable of showing any interest in any other people other than doing so in pure pretence or when they see an advantage for themselves in doing so, in unscrupulously using other people ?

COULD some people really not be capable of experiencing life’s warmer, kinder and more positive emotions and even take pleasure in being cruel and bringing out the worst, the most negative emotions, in even the best of people?

COULD society really continue to appoint such innately difficult people with a mindset which differs significantly from most others to leadership positions?

Appearing to be oblivious to the downside risk associated with hazardous situations and the potentially serious or even catastrophic implications for both other people and their own organisation which may arise from their decisions and actions, does not spread confidence that when crunch comes to crunch they will prioritise any factor other than their self-interest, their personal pride and their deep sense of infallibility, which extraordinarily they can maintain even following the collapse of the entity they were erroneously chosen to mis-lead.

Indeed their apparent inability to experience and evaluate risk poses a challenge for industry sectors where risk analysis plays a key role, notably financial services, especially in instances when their corporate cultures were apparently permitted to become excessively competitive if not outright combative.

While such people can seem to believe and even state that fear is one of the most successful policies for managing people, the reality is more likely to be that they actually enjoy intimidation and scaring other people into submission and would rather do so by way of coercion than persuasion.

What may be of even greater concern is that such people, who psychologists believe may not experience fear themselves, can fail to appreciate the risks associated with their decisions and actions, especially when these involve complex analysis of risk-reward tradeoffs. Their innate self-centredness with an excessive focus on personal gain and advantage, monetary and otherwise, can seem to make them immune from the downsides arising from their risky decisions.

The repercussions and reverberations for interpersonal and even international relationships in society could be serious, potentially dramatic or even catastrophic.

The “world order” and even “world peace” could particularly be at risk when people such as these achieve their primary personal goal of “getting to the top” and lead not only organisations but even nations.

Of course it would be better still if business and society saw through them and did not elect such innately difficult, challenging and self-centred people to leadership positions.

How?

By identifying and unmasking such “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” people.

Is this really possible without ourselves studying clinical psychology?

Of course!

Because no matter how hard they try to portray themselves as being “normal”, they actually help us identify their varying abnormalities because, especially when they are challenged, they give themselves away by way of their very inability to change their own behaviour.

However a significant problem is that many people do not know what behaviour to look for in trying to identify such people for what they may actually be – people with such a disordered mind they could have a personality disorder, perhaps one of society’s best kept secrets.

While many people can behave in a selfish, difficult, proud and contrary manner occasionally, especially under extreme pressure, to be classified as a PERSONALITY DISORDER the traits need to be inflexible”, meaning

“can be repeatedly observed without regards to time, place or circumstance”

while also

“interfering with a person’s ability to function well in society, including causing problems with interpersonal relationships”

termed functional impairment”.

One of the problems for the rest of society is that those with one or a combination of personality disorders may be oblivious to their disorder:

“People with personality disorders have personalities that are outside social norms. Very often these people are not even aware that their maladaptive behaviors and personalities are so different than those of other members of their society. In addition, these behaviors and personalities are usually so ingrained that the person accepts them as completely normal and has no desire to change them.”

One of the behaviours which can “give the game away” to non-psychologists that there may be something wrong with a co-worker is excessive aggression:

“To be aggressive one must be assertive to the point of being willing and able to do harm to the target of aggression in order to achieve a goal. “

While many people will rarely if ever be aggressive, no matter the degree of provocation, others seem to spend life “on a short fuse” and it will not take much for their aggression to surface, which places the onus on the other people to both learn how to predict their behaviour and then show the resolve to remain calm when the do or may be about to “blow their top”.

In the workplace and in other organisational contexts there are many ways in which fundamentally combative and aggressive people try to make life difficult for their peers (which can be an innate personal goal as doing so can give them a great “kick” in life,) including when they seek to make crises out of triviality and especially when (in their mind if not in reality) someone threatens them in any shape or form, even quite innocently suggesting a viewpoint contrary to their own.

In turn, other people learn to remain silent, denying the troublemaker the fuel they need to stir up the dissent some of them thrive on. They also learn to agree with whatever their Disordered Leader says or demands, even if highly inappropriate in the circumstances, as this avoids unnecessary trouble. Responsible people in due course learn to verbally agree with them but then, sometimes as a collective management team, do what they believe to be right for the organisation, often the opposite, given that they are capable of “moral reasoning” even if some of their more irresponsible senior colleagues may not be, solely driven by their insatiable goal of “instantaneous personal gratification” which can seem to bypass all other mental faculties.

So why, why, why do we continue to elect such challenging people to seniority of position, not only in business but throughout society, when their mal-leadership is more likely to result in harm and havoc than stability and sensible progress?

A group intimidated into only doing what the dominant leader wants is unlikely to evolve, especially when “getting their own way” is very important to their leader. If people are afraid to “speak up” and uninspired to suggest a variety of alternative ideas or courses of action, how likely is more visionary progress?

At the end of the day Disordered Leaders demotivate and discourage people from producing their best. They may even want to bring out the worst in others as they try to turn people against each other rather than engender co-operation and teamwork.

While many people “succeed” by developing people and building trusting relationships, others seem to thrive at damaging relationships and destroying trust, both perhaps inconsequential to them with their primary focus being innately on themselves.

Flourishing levels of self-respect are important for everyone to function well in life and society, but what might be the difference between healthy and unhealthy levels?

Could it be how they like to make other people feel?

Confident, respected, assured, secure, satisfied, encouraged and inspired to produce their best, or tentative, lacking in confidence, disrespected, insecure, dissatisfied, discouraged, perhaps even belittled, nervous, hesitant and doubting their own ability, if not sanity.

One of many matters that mark such people as being very DIFFERENT from others in society is that they can seem to be well capable of not only confusing fact with fiction but then convincing themselves that their own fictions are actual facts.

Such DISORDERED people need to be recognised as being fundamentally DIFFERENT from most others in society so those who have to deal with them learn to behave very DIFFERENTLY if any SEMBLANCE of responsible progress is to become possible.

These uncooperative yet highly aggressive and combative people, who seem to take pleasure in being unkind and some even cruel, would seem to have been around for ever, perhaps being responsible for many troubles in society throughout history, potentially both causing and then perpetuating wars, given their inability to apologise, forgive or be the “peacemaker”, nor appreciate the perspective of other people or even show any interest in their welfare.

Being fundamentally cold, unemotional, unkind and perhaps even cruel, they find it a great challenge to show mercy on occasions when this could build bridges between people or peoples rather than dismantle them. Their true mindset seems to be exclusively me, me, me and doing “whatever it takes” to achieve their personal goals including just “getting their own way”, totally and absolutely inconsiderate of the interests and needs of other people.

“WINNING AT ALL COSTS” seems to give them more pleasure when this involves others losing. Yet somehow we continue to trust them with positions of influence and power not only within the businesses and organisations of our societies, both privately and publicly owned, but even our very nations themselves.

What a mistake this can prove to be when their superficial charm proves to be only skin-deep and their truer personas and more devious motivations can become more apparent, or be exposed, often when it is too late to undo the damage they insidiously do.

Yet somehow fundamentally irresponsible people still manage to “pull the wool over the eyes” of those responsible for both hiring and promotion in organisations, with those genuinely smart people with a keen eye for human nature who “see through” their Disordered Leader just as likely to be disbelieved should they share their concerns, partly because, no matter how much convincing evidence is presented to them, many of those in positions of responsibility are not only biased towards finding facts which confirm rather than disagree with their prior actions and decisions, but do not yet quite know what behavioural signs associated with Disordered Leadership to look for, nor how irresponsible and indeed dangerous such Charismatic Liars can be.

Talking the talk is no substitute for actually being capable of walking the walk. Indeed in the case of Disordered Leaders there may be a deep disconnect between their talk and their deeds, which may bear no resemblance to each other at all.

They can say one thing one minute and do the precise opposite the next, before subsequently denying that they said or did either.

Even more extraordinary to those unfamiliar with such traits is that they actually appear to believe their own lies, falsehoods and misinterpretations, being well capable of confusing fact with fiction and then seemingly convincing themselves that their own fictions are actual facts.

This leaves everyone else considerably confused and wondering who or what to believe, especially when their own recollection of discussions, situations and events differs substantially from those of their Disordered Leader, who will have no qualms whatsoever contradicting them and telling them how wrong they are.

Esteemed psychologist Hervey Cleckley wrote in The Mask of Sanity about the almost total disconnect between words and deeds such people can display, with promises, intentions and actual actions bearing little or no resemblance to each other, making them thoroughly convincing liars:

“[He] shows a remarkable disregard for truth and is to be trusted no more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of present intentions.

He gives the impression that he is incapable of ever attaining realistic comprehension of an attitude in other people which causes them to value truth and cherish truthfulness in themselves.

Typically he is at ease and unpretentious in making a serious promise or in (falsely) exculpating himself from accusations, whether grave or trivial. His simplest statement in such matters carries special powers of conviction. Overemphasis, obvious glibness, and other traditional signs of the clever liar do not usually show in his words or in his manner.

Candour and trustworthiness seem implicit in him at such times. During the most solemn perjuries he has no difficulty at all in looking anyone tranquilly in the eyes.

After being caught in shameful and gross falsehoods, after repeatedly violating his most earnest pledges, he finds it easy, when another occasion arises, to speak of his word of honour, his honour as a gentleman, and he shows surprise and vexation when commitments on such a basis do not immediately settle the issue.

The conception of living up to his word seems, in fact, to be regarded as little more than a phrase sometimes useful to avoid unpleasantness or to gain other ends…

He is unfamiliar with the primary facts or data of what might be called personal values and is altogether incapable of understanding such matters. Beauty and ugliness, except in a very superficial sense, goodness, evil, love, horror and humour have no actual meaning, no power to move him.

He is, furthermore, lacking in the ability to see that others are moved. It is as though he were colourblind, despite his sharp intelligence, to this aspect of human existence. It cannot be explained to him because there is nothing in his orbit of awareness that can bridge the gap with comparison. He can repeat the words and say glibly that he understands, and there is no way for him to realise that he does not understand...

His rational power enables him to mimic directly the complex play of human living… Only when he sets out to conduct his life can we get evidence of how little his good theoretical understanding means to him, of how inadequate and insubstantial are the apparently normal basic emotional reactions and motivations convincingly portrayed and enunciated but existing in little more than two dimensions...

Some believe that he is ill primarily (or largely) because of his unconscious hate for those he loves and his impulses to destroy them…

[He] feels little, if any, guilt. He can commit the most appalling acts, yet view them without remorse. [He] has a warped capacity for love. His emotional relationships, when they exist, are meagre, fleeting, and designed to satisfy his own desires. These last two traits, guiltlessness and lovelessness, conspicuously mark [him] as different from other men…

Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudo-intentions, pseudo-remorse, pseudo-love, and the genuine responses of a normal person. His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder…

His unreliability and his disregard for obligations and for consequences are manifested in both trivial and serious matters, are masked by demonstrations of conforming behaviour, and cannot be accounted for by ordinary motives or incentives…”

Such cold, calculating and challenging people can hold deep personal grudges for a considerable time for sometimes petty or apparently trivial reasons and seek extremely disproportionate revenge for matters others would hardly notice.

When they compound their other emotional deficiencies with a “persecution complex’, believing other people are out to “get them” or they cannot cope with anything remotely like criticism, they make for very dangerous, retaliatory and highly inappropriate leaders, especially when they make adversaries out of friends and coworkers who can struggle to comprehend what they did to offend them.

Their lack of accountability can be even more apparent following their inevitable mis-deeds, for which they accept no responsibility, with failures and adverse consequences always being the fault of other people.

Indeed an aspect of some personality disorders, especially when associated with considerable self-confidence, is that the disordered people cannot seem to see and find it very hard to believe that it is in fact they with the problems, which they attribute to others. They can genuinely believe that there is actually nothing wrong with them. Should courageous colleagues dare suggest they consider psychological assistance, for a variety of reasons including their belief that they are more talented than anyone else and the world actually revolves around them, their emotional deficiencies are likely to prohibit them from comprehending why their peers believe they may need counselling or treatment.

Indeed, despite being critical of anyone and everything else, being incapable of receiving even an iota of criticism themselves, even when they are just imagining this, they are likely to be unappreciative of any attempts made by well-intentioned coworkers to seek any alteration in their behaviour and may respond in a vindictive and retaliatory manner. Being well capable of holding deep grudges for considerable periods of time, even when totally unwarranted, anyone who dares criticise them, no matter how constructively, is not likely to benefit from career progression.

In stark contrast, society and its organisations needs to be led by wiser and more astute people capable of seeking a wide variety of alternative viewpoints and acting on the most appropriate, praising those who suggested them even if they ran contrary to their own opinions, capable of accepting criticism and responding constructively, capable of being proactive rather than being reactive or inactive especially in seeking change and better ways to do things. capable of forgiving those who make mistakes, while encouraging their people to improve and learn from such experiences rather than find their career has stalled. Indeed such leaders are even well capable of setting the example by accepting responsibility for the failings of those they lead while deflecting credit for their own achievements on to their coworkers.

Disordered Leaders who not only persistently seek praise but are also more likely to ungraciously praise themselves than others and exaggerate (even invent) their own achievements, also take credit for the accomplishments of other people, yet can be extremely unaccountable and quite unable to accept responsibility for their own words and actions, especially when these upset other people, who they also blame for their many failings and inadequacies.

Behaving in a ruthless manner does not cause them the concern it would to others and can even seem to give them considerable pleasure.

They will lie, deceive, perjure and manipulate in order to achieve their goals, with little or no concern for who else may be adversely affected. When caught in a lie they will just change their story, as if nothing happened, or accuse the other person of being the liar. In due course other people may begin to doubt their own recollection of events (if not their sanity) so need to keep their own notes and records should matters ever be escalated, as they may well be given the propensity of amongst life’s most difficult people to make a “mountain out of a molehill” and make a “drama out of a crisis”, in their case perhaps better described as making a crisis out of even the most trivial drama.

Salient advice is to only believe their assertions when they can be corroborated by impartial third parties or documentary evidence. When their imaginations appear to be running riot, it is important to realise that in their mind these could well be facts, not the fiction which others suspect or know their interpretation to be.

Eventually though their misuse of power can often result in their downfall, with the old adage “those who abuse power, lose power” very apt. But this may take some time and probably only after they have left a significant trail of devastation, given the destructive impact they can have on other people’s lives.

But this need not be the case, only if others fail to recognise the EVIDENCE presented by their behavioural traits and choose NOT to respond in the confrontational manner they seek and desire. Over time other people will learn that the best response is to deny them the trouble they seek and not rise to the traps they set, often on a daily basis, denying them the oxygen they need to fuel the fires of trouble, strife and dissent they thrive on.

When others consistently look upon them as being objectionable troublemakers, over time they will hopefully in due course identify that the best response is to be the peacemaker.

When conscientious colleagues recognise some of these behavioural traits and identify such people for the troublemakers they really are, then do the opposite of what they want, including remaining calm when they seek to stir up dissent, they will be denied the many mini-victories they incessantly crave.

While many people in life “succeed” by building trusting relationships, others prefer to damage relationships and trust, both perhaps inconsequential to them given that their primary focus is on themselves. Demotivating others by way of belittling and demeaning them seems to give them a great “kick” in life, perhaps enhancing their self-belief that no-one else compares with their own undoubted brilliance (at least in their opinion, if few others).

Somehow other people, perhaps because in due course they become accustomed to such behaviour, can actually accept and even misinterpret such malpractices, especially within the organisational context, as being indicative of “strong leadership”. What a mistake this can be. Instead people who NEED to humiliate other people themselves need to be recognised as having something wrong with them. Instead of being accepted, such misconduct needs to be seen as not only unacceptable but perhaps also as indicative of what may well be a deeply disturbed mind.

Younger or less experienced people who come to believe that any form of discouragement within and outside organisations is either acceptable or part and parcel of “managerial practice” are clearly working for the wrong role models, perhaps people who should never have been permitted to become managers of other people in the first place, no matter their other often considerable talents and abilities.

Possessing technical proficiency does not a manager make.

It could even be argued that one of the primary roles of a manager or leader is the ability to “get the best out of everyone else”, whether the arena be business, public sector, social, family or perhaps especially sporting. Getting the worst out of everyone and uninspiring them by way of any form of denigration or disparagement is NOT and never should be misconstrued as “management”. Indeed this and many related traits should instead be associated with “mis-management” or “mal-leadership”.

Yet extraordinarily time and time again people who behave in such a manager are chosen for managerial and leadership roles.

More junior people may in fact learn more about “management” by observing it conducted badly and then doing precisely the opposite when they have the opportunity themselves. Whatever manner they disliked being treated is not the way they should in due course treat others, if they are ever to be respected themselves.

Although generally an inappropriate practice, perhaps a strong leader needs to humiliate the humiliator by demoting such people to positions whereby they no longer have responsibility for people but can benefit the organisation or entity by way of availing of their more technical abilities?

Not every role requires empathy and an interest in other people.

While many leaders take pleasure in encouraging others and can inspire them to produce their best by way of praising their achievements (no matter how modest) and helping them believe in their own abilities, self- centred leaders can seem to derive a morbid satisfaction from putting others down and engaging in outright discouragement. This can include refraining from praising achievements and finding opportunities for criticism even following considerable accomplishments. At the end of the day they discourage people from producing their best and may even want to bring out the worst in them as they try to turn people against each other rather than engender co-operation and teamwork.

These and many other factors are precisely the opposite situations and outcomes expected from those who manage and lead organisations, situations which too many workers often have no option but to accept rather than try to change, given the considerable personal retribution they could face from self- centred people who have few qualms about humiliating and even wanting to “destroy” coworkers who in some way dissatisfy them, even when they may be doing the right thing by their organisation and the majority of its people.

People who very occasionally display some of these challenging traits may be entirely normal and just be responding to pressure. It is when these traits recur frequently and can with familiarity be predicted that other people may have reason to be anxious that they may be dealing with someone with a personality disorder.

Those concerned by their behaviour may find it worthwhile or even necessary to catalogue this and discuss what they have observed with human resources experts and qualified mental health professionals. While some “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” people may successfully mask their truly cold nature, most of the time at least, they can find it harder to alter their obstinate and cantankerous behaviour, especially when they are challenged.

People will need to tread very carefully and “walk on eggshells” in dealing with them, bearing in mind that one of the first reactions of the self-centred personality may be to “attack their accuser”, perhaps becoming enraged and “denying the undeniable”, possibly inventing fictitious situations and conversations while convincing others of their accuracy, exaggerating achievements and denigrating almost everyone else, like a rat cornered.

They can contrive imaginary stories about other people and have no problem spreading entirely false and malicious rumours about those they choose to damage and try to destroy, sometimes for quite innocuous reasons.

The victims of their “character assassination” may be quite unaware about the “distortion campaign” they may have been engaging in for some time, until they gradually begin to piece together little snippets of information like a jigsaw puzzle, in due course perhaps (but not always) discovering the true depths of their depravity and the degree to which they will do anything in their power to alienate those they perceive to be “foes” from other people.

At the end of the day they excel at damaging not building both relationships and trust.

It will take very little for them to be extremely disloyal to even their most loyal followers as the only loyalty they seem to be capable of is to themselves.

If they have not yet achieved their goal of becoming the CEO or similar role in other entities, they will surreptitiously seek the support of the most senior people people in the organisation, who they may have been grooming for this purpose for some time, often by way of lauding themselves while belittling their own managers, to the extent that people no longer quite know whom to believe.

Perhaps when they say “don’t tell anyone, but…” it is these very assertions which need to be checked and confirmed with third parties and documentation sought to corroborate their sometimes incredible – meaning hard to believe – claims, especially when these disparage other people and promote themselves..

One major problem with such situations is that those who may be the victims of their invention and slander will never quite know which people they have been “badmouthed” to. Sometimes they may receive little snippets of information that begin to gradually open the door of understanding to what may actually be happening.

Another major problem and challenge for anyone dealing with them is that those who have been told the lies and deceit are more likely to believe the falsehoods than doubt the truth of them and the mindset of the rumour-mongerer. Why would they disbelieve the untruths when they are spoken with such apparent sincerity? Surely no-one could be so cruel as to want to damage and destroy the reputation of other people in their circle of influence?

Alas it is often those who most warrant having a “good name”, amongst the best people in society who try to “make the world a abetter place”, that they are most envious of and in their peculiarly mendacious and totally vindictive mind most seek to damage and destroy.

Perhaps what we most urgently need is to become more capable of better comprehending what psychologists describe as their quite childlike, unreliable, emotionally deficient and mendacious mindsets and more fully appreciate how fundamentally self-centred, unkind, disloyal and disinterested in anyone but themselves such difficult, devious and destructive characters these cold, nasty, hateful and darkly pernicious people may truly be, so we learn instead to choose their polar opposites to responsibly, positively, empathetically and perhaps inspirationally lead our organisations and nations?

Maybe what we most need is people of substance, integrity and good character

capable of comprehending the complexity of situations, who are consummate team-players capable of first developing then collaborating with their team; capable of patiently considering and deliberating over issues; capable of showing a genuine interest in other people; capable of being more interested in others than themselves; capable of tolerance during matters of disagreement; capable of changing their mind when situations change or they realise they were wrong; capable of learning from their prior experiences especially mistakes; capable of remorse for their errors of judgement; capable of guilt for any wrongdoing; capable of making great efforts not to repeat behaviour which disappointed them at least as much as others;

capable of seeking advice and acting on it; capable of seeking alternative opinions and viewpoints; capable of considering many perspectives well beyond their own; capable of deriving constructive solutions to problems and challenges which most benefit the relevant stakeholders, not necessarily themselves…

capable of speaking carefully, tactfully and diplomatically on behalf of the entity they are proud to responsibly represent; capable of saying nothing when they have nothing to say and conversing responsibly when they do; capable of building consensus; capable of treating everyone with respect, even those they disagree with or dislike; capable of appreciating the abilities in others and seeking out latent talents who may have become lost or forgotten throughout their organisation; capable of recognising people of ability and showing sufficient interest in them that they encourage and develop them to achieve their potential; capable of inclusion over exclusion; capable of open and honest communication;

capable of being open to people at all levels of their organisation; capable of finding win-win situations even when this seems improbable; capable of calmly reacting to crises rather than creating them; capable of evaluating risk and then minimising it; capable of taking the longer-term perspective; capable of great emotional warmth and depth; capable of controlling their own emotions and being appreciative of those of others; capable of being sensitive to the needs of other people; capable of fun and laughter and finding acceptable humour during times of challenges; capable of seeing the lighter side of life especially when experiencing difficulties; capable of being warm-hearted and appreciated as possessing an abundance of emotional empathy; capable of appreciating the difference between purely intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence; capable of being sympathetic to those in need and yet not seeking pity for themselves; capable of seeing the best not worst in others; capable of getting the best out of other people by inspiring them to want to do well; capable of behaving in an inspirational manner; capable of mental stability when under pressure…

capable of building relationships; capable of choosing to own up rather than cover up what transpire to be errors and mistakes; capable of responsibly open communication during times of crisis; capable of accepting blame for personal mistakes and learning how not to repeat them; capable of accepting responsibility for the errors of others and not blaming them even when warranted; capable of giving their word and sticking to it; capable of only making promises they know they can and will keep and then doing so; capable of speaking the truth especially under duress; capable of developing trust and trustworthy relationships; capable of enhancing reputation and the importance of this as a guiding force in decision-making; capable of speaking up against wrongdoing and eradicating it from their own organisations;

capable of genuine humility and innate modesty; proud of the achievements of other people not their own; capable of praising others; capable of many forms of encouragement; capable of accepting criticism and responding constructively; capable of being perceived as kind and considerate; capable of responding to hatred with understanding and compassion; capable of turning disharmony into harmony; capable of peacemaking during times of conflict; capable of making opportunities out of their difficulties;

capable of appreciating that the most entitled are those they lead not themselves; capable of adult behaviour especially moral reasoning; capable of setting an admirable example for all those they lead and conscious of their responsibility to do so; capable of responsible leadership considerate of the interests and needs of all stakeholders and capable of acting with integrity, especially when this is described as “doing the right thing when no-one is looking.”

Perhaps we only really appreciate the most responsible people, who fortunately DO lead the majority of societal organisations, entities and nations, when we compare them with irresponsible people, whose character some may consider to be dubious.

Disordered Leaders are the past masters at doing the wrong thing when everyone is looking, although they may be the last to appreciate this (if ever) themselves. Such matters, and more, unfortunately increase the likelihood of impaired interpersonal trust and further damage to the reputation of the organisation foolish enough to employ and promote them, precisely the opposite behaviour and outcomes than people expect of managers and leaders in any context, let alone nation-building.

Yet incredibly we let them manage our organisations and our nations and trust them with responsibility for our people, when they struggle to manage even their own emotions.

Do we never seem to learn?

No matter how well they manage to disguise their true inner coldness, eventually their maltreatment of others, allied to the degree of lies, deceipt, manipulation and character assassination they engage in does become noticed by their people.

No matter how subtle they try to be (not always a strength of theirs) eventually the absolute degree of their self-centredness can no longer be masked by their charm. Ultimately their attempts to ingratiate themselves with those in more senior positions falls flat when both their self-praise and critique of others is seen for what it actually is.

No matter how well they try to convince others that they are actually good people, those who really know them well appreciate how far from the truth this can be.

No longer should those who bring out the worst in other people, and who derive their own happiness from damaging that of others, ever be given responsibility for managing or leading other people, given their inability to constructively manage their own emotions let alone those of others.

This is especially so when the Disordered Leader takes “getting their own way” to such extreme lengths that “winning at all costs” and seeming to be oblivious to the consequences distorts the truth and damages not only other people but the organisation or entity which employs them.

When responsible people consider such irresponsible people for positions of responsibility in the organisations and organs of our societies, the clear answer needs to be NO, NO, NO, NO, irrespective of however convincing their other qualities may on the surface appear to be.

Responsible, trustworthy and trusting people may well live to doubt not only their decision but even their own sanity following the appointment of deeply untrustworthy people to ANY position of responsibility in ANY type of organisation.

Of course it would be better still if business and society saw through them and did not elect such innately difficult, challenging and self-centred people to leadership positions.

How? By identifying and unmasking such “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” people. Is this really possible without ourselves studying clinical psychology?

Of course! Because no matter how hard they try to portray themselves as being “normal”, they actually help us identify their varying abnormalities because, especially when they are challenged, they give themselves away by way of their very inability to change their own behaviour.

However a significant problem is that many people do not know what behaviour to look for in trying to identify such people for what they may actually be – people with such a disordered mind they could have a personality disorder, perhaps one of society’s best kept secrets.”

For the sake of the entity itself, perhaps ultimately its very survival, it will become critically important to evaluate whether the “difficult” person or people may be contributing more good or doing more harm to the organisation, it’s own people, it’s culture and any other stakeholders, before considering which course of action will be most likely to protect others from their behaviour and safeguard the longer term integrity and reputation of “their” organisation.

Other people are likely to struggle with trying to comprehend what may really be going on in the mind of their superficially charming and intelligent but fundamentally cold, calculating, self-centred, tactless, untruthful and untrustworthy Disordered Leader, who thrives on disagreement, discouragement, fear, blame and exclusion rather than agreement, encouragement, praise, inclusion… and responsibility.

If business and organisational life in both the private and public sectors involves a journey with many possible roads to choose from, leading to a variety of destinations, the entities involved need to be led by people capable of astutely reading the map and choosing the wisest route, not those likely to steer high speed down cul-de-sacs and whose route can change daily because the journey they are most concerned with involves a personal ego trip.

It is possible if not entirely probable that many confused people can work with or for such challenging people, such Charismatic Liars, for quite some time without fully appreciating what motivates them to see things so differently from most other people in society. Over time the “different” and perhaps apparently bizarre manner in which they perceive matters and behave requires other people, out of necessity if not exasperation and desperation, to adapt their own behaviour to deal with them very differently if the organisation is to make the progress it might have had they not appointed such a Disordered Leader in the first place.

Yet somehow we continue to hope such irresponsible people will responsibly lead our organisations and nations, although their initial perhaps knee-jerk response to unsatisfactory situations can be angry, unforgiving and retaliatory rather than collaborative and consensus-finding, being more troublemaker than peacemaker and relationship destroyer than builder.

How can we be so short-sighted?

Are we so collectively blinded by their charm offensives and apparent intelligence that we fail to see beyond their attractive exteriors, verbal proficiency and clever but (to them) utterly hollow speech, meaningless words and empty promises?

When will we see the light amidst the darkness such people can initially covertly then more overtly and seditiously spread? As Mark Twain suggested:

It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Their ability to convincingly lie and deceive is perhaps unparalleled in human existence. When caught in a significant lie they just move on as if nothing adverse had happened at all, without even seeming to blink. Those in positions of responsibility considering their more meritorious traits before hiring or promoting them need not only to seek independent corroboration for any of their assertions but also to recall and strongly consider what the late and perhaps great Psychology Professor Hervey Cleckley, who worked professionally with many hundreds such people including within the legal system, wrote about them:

“[He] shows a remarkable disregard for truth and is to be trusted no more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of present intentions… Typically he is at ease and unpretentious in making a serious promise or in (falsely) exculpating himself from accusations, whether grave or trivial. His simplest statement in such matters carries special powers of conviction. Candour and trustworthiness seem implicit in him at such times. During the most solemn perjuries he has no difficulty at all in looking anyone tranquilly in the eyes…

[He] feels little, if any, guilt. He can commit the most appalling acts, yet view them without remorse. [He] has a warped capacity for love. His emotional relationships, when they exist, are meagre, fleeting, and designed to satisfy his own desires. These last two traits, guiltlessness and lovelessness, conspicuously mark [him] as different from other men… Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudo-intentions, pseudo-remorse, pseudo-love, and the genuine responses of a normal person. His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder.”

Extraordinarily to those who face the challenge of having to deal with such people, they can believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and the blame for all their problems lies at the feet of others, indeed everyone else they encounter on life’s journey. This insight alone may hopefully help others learn how to deal with perhaps life’s most problematic people.

What everyone else, especially those not exposed to their behaviour or unaware that they may have crossed paths with such Charismatic Liars may most struggle to comprehend, is that there can be a total and absolute disconnect between their words and deeds, with with (empty) promises, (shallow) intentions and actual (or imagined) actions bearing little or no resemblance to each other. The taller the story, the less likely it is to bear any semblance to truth and reality, especially when it paints a rosy picture of themselves or a truly awful picture of other people.

This disconnect can be just as apparent when other people begin to realise that they are also well capable of saying one thing one minute and then doing precisely the opposite the next, before later incredibly denying that they said or did one or other or even both.

Even more incomprehensible to those less familiar with such bizarre and fortunately quite rare traits is that they actually seem to believe their own lies, deceit, falsehoods, misinterpretations and perjuries. One of many matters that mark such people as being very DIFFERENT from others in society is that they are well capable of not only confusing fact with fiction but then convincing themselves that their own fictions are actual facts.

Another matter everyone else perhaps best needs to understand is that while most people in society take great pleasure seeing other people satisfied, happy, cooperating and living in harmony with each other, this is not universal. For instance:

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority of society be at their happiest making others unhappy and be at their unhappiest seeing other people happy.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to secretly thrive on bringing unhappiness to any group of people, no matter what the situation or who or where they may be.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to be absolutely cold-hearted with an absence of emotional empathy and little emotional intelligence, that they be so entirely “factually calculating” that their decisions appear to lack any emotional input.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to be capable of being quite cruel and ruthless without this seeming to bother them at all or, more alarmingly, give them deep satisfaction.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to have no pity or sympathy for the plight of others yet seem to seek sympathy and pity for themselves.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for some to be insensitive to the needs of others, be persistently critical of them, yet be so exceptionally sensitive to personal criticism that they totally overreact even to trivial remarks.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to want to damage and destroy anyone they dislike, to be incapable of forgiveness, or be merciless, hold deep grudges nor to want to seek significant revenge for even trivial reasons.

IT IS NOT NORMAL to engage in character assassination, spreading totally false and malicious rumours, slander and defamation about other people, a “distortion campaign”, which in their delusional and perhaps paranoid mind perceiving that everyone else is “out to get them”, they may even, with sufficient scurrilous repetition, even begin to believe themselves.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for people to believe that bullying and intimidation are acceptable behaviour and part and parcel of “management” of people and organisations, perhaps more indicative of a character flaw than strong rather than weak and ineffective “leadership”.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for people to thrive on damaging other people and destroying relationships, nor be inconsiderate of or even absolutely immune to the consequences.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for people to lack an “attitude of gratitude” or possess an “attitude of ingratitude” that they be incapable of praising others yet seem to need praise so much that when not in receipt of it they will praise themselves.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for there to be a total and absolute disconnect between words, deeds and actual (or imagined) actions, for these to bear little or no resemblance to each other nor for words, promises and stated intentions being utterly, shallow, empty and devoid of meaning.

IT IS NOT NORMAL to believe that deceit, dishonesty, manipulation, distortions of the truth and compulsive lying are acceptable, nor for people not to be embarrassed at all by such behaviour that they will be capable of just changing their story when caught engaging in deep untruthfulness as if nothing peculiar had happened, no matter how charming the liar.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for some to consistently prefer excessive risk-taking to more prudent behaviour nor seem to be incapable of learning from their prior experiences and mistakes, especially when they keep on repeating behaviour which has adverse consequences.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for some to be so focused on “getting their own way” that at times all other considerations can appear to be so totally and absolutely inconsequential that they will pursue courses of action that can not only disrespect people and important relationships, but also cause damage to their organisation, for no apparent reason except it is what they want to do and what others do not want to happen, almost like a primary school child.

IT IS NOT NORMAL to be so fundamentally uncooperative, disagreeable, perverse, contrary and combative that some people not only be incapable of seeking advice but also consistently prefer to do the OPPOSITE of what other people suggest, no matter how unwise.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for some to so thrive on negativity, criticism, discouragement, disquiet, disunity and outright conflict that they not only spread rumours, lies, dissent and distrust, but even hatred, especially for no apparent reason.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for people to experience no guilt or remorse for words and actions which would distress others.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for a minority to get their “kick in life” from doing “whatever it takes” to engender disharmony and strife in so many ways, including thriving on troublemaking and creating chaos, havoc and mayhem, while blaming others for all the problems and disliking anything to do with peacemaking and relationship building.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for people to be so oblivious to the downside risk associated with hazardous situations including the potentially serious or even catastrophic implications of their decisions, that they will appear to disregard any such factors, instead favouring and prioritising their self-interest, personal pride, necessity to “win at all costs” and deep sense of infallibility when they take decisions lacking in integrity and engage in inappropriate actions, for which they subsequently remain uniquely unaccountable, accept no personal responsibility and blame others, no matter how adverse the consequences for other people and trust or their own organisation and reputation, fundamentally not their concern.

IT IS NOT NORMAL for some to be so focused on maximising rewards and on “winning at all costs”, especially when this involves others losing, preferring win-lose to win-win, that somehow they lack the early-warning system or inner radar system often termed conscience, which many people in positions of responsibility do possess, which helps protect both the organisation and its people from unnecessary harm.

So why do we allow people who consistently portray some or more of these characteristics to manage cafes and coffee shops let alone large corporations, public sector bodies, Non Governmental Organisations, charities and even states and nations, when we know that essentially they are far more interested in themselves than those they are chosen to manage and lead?

Surely the last thing the stability of society requires is fundamentally irresponsible people holding positions of responsibility when we know their loyalty is self-centred?

Critically many such related matters suggest that these people are very DIFFERENT from what others may accept as normal. As they not only appear to see and perceive things DIFFERENTLY, experience things DIFFERENTLY, consider matters DIFFERENTLY, treat other people DIFFERENTLY and generally behave very DIFFERENTLY from most people in society, all other people need to do what they most struggle to do – adapt their own behaviour – to behave, act, react and especially think very DIFFERENTLY themselves in and around them, notably patiently, calmly and sedately to deny them the trouble they seek in many situations, if any semblance of NORMALITY is to be permitted, no matter the walk in life.

Anyone (or almost anyone) can be kind to life’s kindest people. Those who adapt their own thoughts and actions sufficiently to deal with this minority of troublemakers in a calm and considered manner may learn to appreciate that responding to cruelty with kindness can be one of life’s most powerful and satisfying experiences, described by Francis of Assisi as

“conquering oneself”.

Francis described the ability to conquer oneself to the degree that one could patiently endure sufferings, insults, humiliations, hardships and cruel rebuffs, without being troubled and without complaining, while reflecting humbly and charitably when others speak against us, as PERFECT JOY.

This is not dissimilar to the advice which psychologists recommend as being how to effectively deal with life’s troublemakers, termed “denying narcissistic supply”, or denying them the oxygen they need to fuel their fires of fury, dissent and trouble in its many forms by way of remaining cool, calm and collected, no matter the degree of provocation. While this can be quite a challenge in the midst of challenging behaviour, it can undoubtedly be extremely satisfying when the peacemaker prevails over the troublemaker, justifiably described as CONQUERING ONESELF and PERFECT JOY.

Not only can doing so deny them the trouble they crave but, given their emotional poverty and own lack of affection, as they may not themselves be well equipped to deal with kindness in its many forms, being kind in the midst of cruelty and merciful in the midst of mercilessness, difficult as this may be, may transpire to be the best weapon in the armoury of those who are most challenged by perhaps life’s most challenging people.

Being benign towards the most malign can, with a great deal of tact, patience, practice and resolve, prove that THE PEACEMAKER CAN PREVAIL OVER THE TROUBLEMAKER, although of course it would be far preferable if such “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” people were not afforded the opportunity to cause trouble and strife in the first place.

Society needs protection from them.

Although those who become more appreciative of what may be the true mindset of such people, especially as they become more familiar with the peculiarities of their extraordinarily pernicious behaviour, they will over time learn to take such matters “in their stride”, as best they can in sometimes harrowing circumstances.

Maybe we need to better appreciate the many merits of more intuitive, emotionally intelligent, modest and collaborative peacemakers, with an active conscience and greater depths of character including integrity, honesty, righteousness, humility and common decency, with deep empathy and concern for the people they safely and responsibly lead, being givers more interested in others than themselves, with a genuine interest in both other people and the welfare of society itself, especially when compared with the flawed character, over-confidence, thin-skinned arrogance, troublemaking and dangerous deceit associated with self-centred, emotionally deficient, difficult and proud takers, being more fundamentally interested in themselves than others and thus totally unsuited to managing other people in a corner shop, local committee or sports club, let alone a multinational corporation, financial institution or, perish the thought, a nation?

Yet how many states and nations, past, present but preferably (for the sake of peace and international co-operation) not future, have been or are led by such fundamentally unsafe and unsound, highly self-centred, challenging and combative, deeply proud and hostile, cold and insensitive, entitled and extremely retaliatory rabble-rousers and trouble-makers?

No wonder “peace” has been described as an “interlude between wars” when “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs” can be the fundamental mentality of too many unreliable and irresponsible national leaders, especially when they seek to “get their retaliation in first” because ultimately they care little for the people they mis-lead.

No matter how well they try to pretend that they care for others, they don’t, nor may they even be capable of showing an interest in others, given the extraordinary contrast between the depth of their exceptional self-centredness and the shallowness of their emotions, which combined with their emotional lability and lack of conscience makes them entirely inappropriate managers and leaders of other people, no matter how well they try to act normally and try to show a warm interest in anyone beyond themselves, given that one of their greatest talents is as consummate actors who successfully mask their true tendencies, much of the time.

At its most basic, much of the business (and indeed societal) ethics debate discusses why fundamentally good people do something wrong, usually under some form of pressure.

Perhaps when we consider the “dispositional attribution” or personality of amongst life’s most difficult and challenging people, we may appreciate that unethical acts may also be performed by people who may themselves be fundamentally bad, doing what comes most naturally to them, causing harm to others, but who have developed a well-practiced expertise at portraying themselves as being good people. Most of the time.

Then someone crosses their path when their true nature and covert characteristics may be exposed. Their thinly veiled lack of concern for others, camouflaged emotional poverty, hidden hatreds, cloaked or even absent conscience, inability to genuinely praise, accept criticism or reason morally together with other previously concealed attributes and clandestine traits are then no longer obscured by their charismatic veneer and words which bear no resemblance whatsoever to their real intentions and subsequent actions and mis-deeds.

Yet somehow we trust such untrustworthy people to lead our organisations and nations.

The fact that those lacking in the emotions which most people possess have been shown to so readily and perhaps innately and unwittingly engage in high levels of pathological lying and deceit, cunning manipulation and egocentric, callous and impulsive behaviour, characterised by a lack of responsibility, empathy and remorse, are also well versed in using their charm, confidence and arrogance to hide their true traits even from experienced psychologists poses many challenges for society in all its avenues, especially when we allow such people drive our organisations and entities down roads inevitably leading to chaos and disharmony rather than aspiring to genuinely collective progress based on harmony and co-operation.

Just like what may be their greatest personal cognitive disability, do we never seem to learn from our prior experiences, especially our mistakes? Do we seem to be doomed to repeat them by appointing such fundamentally inappropriate and childlike people, fundamentally more destructive than constructive, who not only play mind games with the emotions of other people, aim to destroy the good names of right-minded, well-intentioned, much kinder and more considerate people who try to “do the right thing”, eradicate the critical value of trust and perhaps irreparably demolish the reputations of the organisations and entities they lead, but also in so doing damage the very fabric of our societies?

Perhaps one of our greatest challenges is to “see through” such challenging people and no longer employ, promote and elect them to positions for which they are so fundamentally unsuitable, displaying what psychologists term “consistent irresponsibility”, capable of routinely acting against the common good and doing so with what they describe as “emotional impunity”.

At its most rudimentary, the kind of people we need leading our organisations and nations are visionary, optimistic, tactful, astute, aware, diplomatic, considerate, open, honest, co-operative, respectful and responsible motivators and peacemakers, flexible and always open to new ideas, dissatisfied with the status quo and who do their utmost to make continual progress and improve what most needs changing. They seek THE TRUTH from coworkers who know better than they do, who they encourage to come forward and explain HOW they would improve their organisation and be supported for doing so, no matter how uncomfortable the truth they courageously tell.

The kind of people we DO NOT need leading our organisations and nations are blinkered, pessimistic, rude, crude, combative, disrespectful and irresponsible demotivators and troublemakers, whose opinion of themselves can substantially exceed their modest abilities (which they uniquely may be unaware of) and for whom the truth is inconsequential, with their many versions of it possibly changing on a daily basis, without scruples.

To them, (shallow) words and (empty) promises are utterly meaningless and absolutely un-heartfelt, lacking any real sincerity or association with any genuine effort to follow them with any appropriate or beneficial action, irrespective of the apparently convincing conviction with which they can be spoken, fooling some of the people some of the time.

Words, like people and relationships, can be easily discarded, neither being felt with any degree of what others would describe or experience as emotion. Indeed their words and their emotions could be considered to be equally shallow and empty. Just like being unkind or even cruel in deed, saying something untrue or deeply disparaging does not seem to cost them a bother.

Feeling little or no guilt means words and the truth lack any meaningful connection.

They seem to lack a sense of what may be wrong.

They can be the first to notice when they believe others may have wronged them, even when they haven’t, being so sensitive to perceived prosecution, but seem to be totally and utterly incapable of noticing when they or those they command do wrong themselves, being absolutely inconsiderate of those adversely affected, given that IN THEIR MIND “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs” as well as being perceived as being the most extraordinary person ever born, is all that really seems to matter.

They can be quite satisfied with “the way we have always done things” and lack the imagination, creativity or drive to want the organisation and its people to be the best they can be, inflexible and curiously closed and stubborn to all ideas that are not their own, who would rather undo the progress made by their predecessors than make any genuine efforts to introduce substantial and long-lasting reform benefitting a wide not narrow range of stakeholders.

Yet we continue to trust such “selfish, stubborn, difficult and proud” people to manage and lead others until we realise how deeply untrustworthy and irresponsible they really are, when it may well be too late.

When more responsible people try to remove them from seniority of position they could well be stunned by the depths of depravity including personal attack and vengeance they can resort to as they seek above all else to maintain power at any cost to other people, the organisation or nation, ultimately not really their concern, although they were supposed to be interested in and concerned for “their people” when they were trusted with the position of responsibility in the first place.

Some people overtly build consensus, others seek to covertly destroy it. Why? It’s just what they do, innately and perhaps subconsciously thriving on disagreement and discord.

The absence of empathy and warm emotion, remorse and conscience, patience and tact, interest in other people and society itself, together with the inability to evaluate risk, forgive and forget or learn from prior mistakes, must be a great and unique competitive advantage for those who hold deep grudges and prefer hatred to harmony, troublemaking to bridge-building, being disruptive to finding consensus, warmongering to peacemaking and take great pleasure in causing harm to other people.

Such dangerous freedom permits them to do “whatever it takes to get their own way” and “win irrespective of the cost to others” as, being so exceptionally self-centred, satisfying themselves can be far more important than anything or anyone else.

So day after day they seek to turn trust into distrust, cooperation into conflict, harmony into disharmony, unity into disunity and order into disorder, for no apparent reason except they just get a great personal “kick” out of creating confusion and chaos, harm and havoc and, if they can get away with it, even mayhem and anarchy, without experiencing any regret whatsoever, no matter the severity of the consequences for anyone other than themselves, fundamentally all they care about.

Incredibly we permit such cold-hearted, callous, nefarious and villainous people to manage and lead, or mismanage and mislead, our organisations and nations, resulting in far too many innocent victims of their mendacious malice.

While this is all happening, many sensible and benign people don’t quite realise what is actually going on, either in the situations they seek to disturb or within their disordered and malign mind.

Despite their attempts to hide their true inner coldness by way of superficial charm and words which to them are false, meaningless and un-heartfelt, it is their very PREDICTABILITY which gives the game away and allows others to see behind the mask they habitually wear so they can learn how to adapt, adjust and respond to their challenging behaviour, preventing trouble arising by way of being the cool, calm and collected peacemaker, an extremely satisfying experience that should be totally unnecessary had their quite polar opposites instead been given the significant responsibility associated with trustworthy management and leadership.

The poet John Milton wrote in 1667:

“The mind is its own place,

and in itself can

make a heaven of hell,

a hell of heaven.”

Some organisations can be heaven in which to work. Others can be hell. Some leaders and managers can make a heaven of hell. Others a hell of heaven. Some leaders instil a positive, inclusive, welcoming, peaceful and harmonious culture. Others exploit fear, practice intimidation and create excessive competition between apparent colleagues.

Many employees of organisations globally may unfortunately have reason to describe their workplace environment as “Paradise Lost”.

When the leaders of an organisation insufficiently appreciate their own people and their multitude of talents and interests, they fail to recognise that an inspired, contented workforce is more likely to contribute to collectively achieving organisational goals than a disenchanted group of individuals who operate in an unnecessarily competitive and perhaps even combative and ethically challenging environment, contributed to by the “dispositional attribution” of managers and leaders:

their personal traits and internal characteristics as opposed to the situational or external influences which arise from environment or culture.

The depth of personal integrity of an organisation’s dominant individuals contributes significantly to the prevailing level of corporate integrity, with some cultures facilitating and promoting and others prohibiting and hindering the personal integrity of employees coming to the fore.

Intolerance of low integrity by leaders of high personal integrity ensures unethical instances are not condoned or repeated, while the acceptance of low integrity by lesser leaders ensures instances are permitted and hence more likely to be repeated given that the corporate culture prevalent within their organisation was permitted to become so competitive and almost exclusively rewards-driven that “anything goes” when it comes to “making money”, with integrity not a barrier.

The potentially catastrophic impact on interpersonal trust and organisational reputation can appear to be ignored or only scantily considered, given the excessive focus on financial reward and “winning at all costs”, almost irrespective of the downside risk, not the priority of managers and leaders who somehow extraordinarily (or not) fail to see the consequences or their culpability even after their organisation has collapsed with many people’s lives adversely affected.

When leaders find it impossible to genuinely praise or encourage others, tell the truth or admit to failings, a “blame culture” can develop which can be a significant barrier to progress. People find it difficult to trust such leaders and “fiefdoms” and “silos” can be particularly evident in their organisations, which can often be as competitive internally between supposed colleagues as externally with their more overt competitors.

While this is surely contrary to the very purpose of establishing an organisation to cooperate towards achieving common goals, this is not a factor the most Disordered Leaders are likely to contemplate give their preference for risky situations, their focus on personal reward and prestige, their dimmed or absent conscience, their ethical blindness, lack of guilt or remorse and their quite extraordinary inability to learn from prior mistakes, especially their own.

Illegitimate leaders can have an innate and ongoing demand for significant attention, respect and flattery from others. Eventually other people learn how predicable they can be and, given their inflexibility, learn to adapt their own behaviour to deny them the oxygen they need to fuel their fires of trouble, or “denying narcissistic supply”.

When people predict something challenging about to happen, then respond by remaining calm and refraining from the response the provocateur is seeking, perhaps by saying nothing at all, harmony has the opportunity to prevail over disharmony. Who wins in such instances? The peacemaker defeats the troublemaker.

Even those who can initially appear to be charming, can transpire to be cold, calculating and distant rather than close, warm and welcoming. The critical importance of appearing to be strong can seem to make them believe that being seen to be warm and kind to others is a mark of impotence and weakness, a liability rather than an asset. Those unaware how to display compassion seem to have a problem responding when others show it to them. Some will rarely engage in tactile interaction, an external clue to their true inner coldness.

Those whose lives they try and make miserable somehow learn how to adapt to both receiving their abuse and how to respond, or better still, how not to respond. For those in life who seem to get their kick out of making others unhappy, others must wonder how happy they may actually be themselves. Surely a life spent making others miserable must have some impact on even the coldest people? They must see other people equipped with life’s warmest emotions using these to make each other happy and wonder what they may be missing.

One of the key points is that as it is the “difficult” people who can struggle to amend their sometimes provocative and challenging behaviour, the task of dealing with the many problems such people pose falls on those who have to deal with them. It is thus everyone else who has to adapt and amend their own behaviour to minimise the degree of trouble and strife which they seek in their quest for disharmony.

Other people face a choice in dealing with those whose necessity for dominance and control can be excessive– to lose control and respond angrily or keep control and respond tactfully and peacefully.

When people respond to the troublemaker in the manner they want – with further trouble, in a manner that people would later be disappointed with themselves and their response – the troublemaker wins.

When people respond to the troublemaker in precisely the opposite manner than that they want – patiently, tactfully and calmly from the perspective of a peacemaker, in a manner that people would later be delighted with themselves and their response – the peacemaker wins.

At the end of the day, kindness can prevail over cruelty, but only by responding in a kind manner, something which cruel people are less well equipped to deal with.

Ruthlessness is not a valid managerial or leadership trait, but may be indicative of the true mindset of the illegitimate manager and leader.

While the most ruthless may be capable of telling right from wrong in the purely intellectual and theoretical sense, especially in abstract discussions not concerning them attaining their personal goals, when it comes to decision-making they do not appear to engage this faculty, whether moral reasoning let alone any form of reasoning, as knowing they may be doing wrong does not appear to be a deterrent when it comes to satisfying themselves, almost like a spoiled child.

Attaining “instantaneous personal gratification” including “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs” can appear to over-ride all other factors as they only seem to assess matters from their own perspective, as if blinkered to all others.

The implications for other people or society do not appear to weigh heavily, if at all, on them, except if it involves they winning and others losing, their pride boosted and others diminished especially if humiliated, they feeling superior and others substantially inferior, as their insatiable goal of personal satisfaction in all matters appears augmented when others are dissatisfied and belittled.

Irrespective of role in society, responsible people would do well to consider whether a touch more selflessness and humility would work better than a dose of ego, arrogance, hubris or pride, especially in those we trust to manage and lead other people in group situations.

Somehow we continue to appoint far too many irresponsible people to positions of responsibility, mistaking intimidatory traits for “strength of leadership” rather than being indicative of weakness of character, an inability to lead and perhaps of something more fundamentally wrong with those significantly more interested in themselves than others.

Incredibly we let them manage our organisations and our nations and trust them with responsibility for our people, when they struggle to manage even their own emotions.

No matter how well they manage to disguise their true inner coldness, eventually their maltreatment of others, allied to the degree of lies, deceipt, manipulation and character assassination they engage in does become noticed.

No matter how subtle they try to be (not usually their strength) eventually the absolute degree of their self-centredness and necessity to control can no longer be masked by their skin-deep charisma.

Ultimately their attempts to ingratiate themselves with those in influential positions falls flat when their self-praise and critique of others are seen for what they are.

No matter how well they try to convince others they are actually good people, those who really know them well appreciate how far from the truth this can be.

No longer should those who bring out the worst in other people, and who derive their own happiness from damaging that of others, ever be given responsibility for managing or leading other people, given their inability to constructively manage their own emotions let alone those of others.

This is especially so when the Disordered Leader takes “getting their own way” to such extreme lengths that “winning at all costs” and seeming to be oblivious to the consequences distorts the truth and damages not only other people but the organisation or entity which employs them.

Of the multitude of characteristics which contribute to trustworthy and responsible management and leadership, notably integrity,

the positive personality of those who find it easy to love and impossible to hate make more welcoming, harmonious, constructive, encouraging, tolerant, agreeable, inclusive, creative, fun-loving, righteous, loyal, generous, collaborative, cooperative, more stable and safer organisational cultures

than those who find it easy to hate and impossible to love, thriving on instability, troublemaking and blame, disruption, disharmony and discord, disunity, havoc and mayhem, disagreement, discouragement and disrespect, disloyalty, deceit and distrust, conflict, control and chaos, intolerance, impatience and grudges, arrogance, meanness and tactlessness, many forms of negativity and unkindness, even subtle or overt cruelty including exclusion, denying people the opportunity to make their contribution to deliberations, quite the opposite of that expected when people join together to achieve some common purpose.

If those who hired, promoted and elected leaders and managers in all walks of life were given the stark option of appointing:

destructive” people characterised by demotivation, fear and irresponsibly unscrupulous, self-centred and proud management, with truth inconsequential, rather than

“constructive” people more capable of motivation, encouragement and stimulation, contributing to accountable, trustworthy and responsible management with integrity, of both people and organisations,

to seniority of position, there could only be one outcome from their deliberations.

Yet time after time people more fundamentally interested in themselves than others, more likely to be disruptive, irresponsible and untruthful than constructive, responsible and honest, often more apparently exciting, magnetic or in some other manner superficially appealing, are chosen for important positions for which they are incredibly ill-equipped.

Charm and clever language (whose smart words and empty promises transpire to be shallow, false and utterly meaningless, unconnected with genuine intent or action) can only temporarily mask their disturbingly domineering tendencies, what schoolchildren (with whom they have been compared by psychologists) refer to as bullies, especially when they will do “anything it takes to get their own way” and (both before and after doing so) be apparently absolutely oblivious to any adverse consequences which may arise, for others, their organisation or, even more extraordinarily, themselves.

Somehow these and related intimidatory traits seem to be continually mistaken as being indicative of “strong management” and even “successful leadership”, rather than a potentially fatal character flaw, possibly even a personality disorder, perhaps one of life’s best kept secrets, which greater knowledge and understanding of could greatly benefit global society.

An integer is a whole number. The “WHOLENESS” associated with the notion of “INTEGRITY” is displayed by people doing the right thing in all not just some areas of their lives, visibly practicing what they preach, owning up not covering up and ensuring their words and actions live up to their values.

People expect such high standards of those in leadership positions. They expect society’s leaders to practice what they preach and display their integrity by “doing the right thing even when no-one is looking”.

Astute, strong and courageous leaders know that DOING THE WRONG THING WHEN EVERYONE IS LOOKING could never be described as leadership let alone leadership with integrity.

Fortunately, the rest of society is more than capable of learning from its many prior errors arising from appointing “destructive” rather than “constructive” people to seniority of position, capable of motivation, stimulation and inclusion while incapable of fear-based demotivation and conflict, especially when astutely led people selflessly and collectively feel inspired to prioritise the “common good” over what most motivates the self-centredly Disordered Leader:

what’s in it for me?”

At the end of the day, when we consider the personality of those we trust to manage other people in all the organisations and entities of our societies, if we are not to repeat the mistakes of our combative history as a human race we need to better appreciate that:

as far as leadership is concerned,

all the intelligence in the world may be of little or no value,

if none of it is emotional.”

The author can by contacted by email at

jmcpsychresearch@gmail.com

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