Leadership – The (Not So) New Abnormal

Leadership – The (Not So) New Abnormal

by Julian Martin Clarke

The impact on global society of business, organisational and national leaders who may have a “Personality Disorder”

(This piece, on a subject the author has been researching since 2013, is quite long so a summary or outline of the key arguments in 75 bullet points is provided at the end of the segment, entitled “Recap”)

(A Springer book chapter written during 2015 for an EBEN conference in Copenhagen, published early 2017, further discusses this topic:)

Dispositional Attribution of Corporate Executives

Given the considerable impact leaders can have on many aspects of organisational and even national life, from highly positive and constructive to deeply negative and destructive, John Milton’s astute observation in 1667 that

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”

could be as apt today, describing the impact of strong personalities on the prevailing culture of not only the organisations they both lead and mis-lead, but even the nations.

While many leaders may be well capable of making a heaven of hell, others are more naturally disposed to making a hell of heaven. Employees unfortunate enough to work in “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures” may well describe the resulting environment as “Paradise Lost”.

Intolerance of low integrity by leaders of high personal integrity with a strong and active conscience ensures unfair, unjust and unethical acts are not condoned and are unlikely to be repeated, given the more constructive, cooperative, honest, harmonious and less adversarial culture such leaders engender throughout their organisation, being based on positivity, praise and encouragement rather than negativity, critique, fear, discouragement and blame.

However the acceptance of low integrity by leaders of a lesser calibre ensures instances are permitted and hence more likely to recur by the more combative, fearful and destructive nature of the culture prevalent within their organisation.

My compatriot Oscar Wilde wrote:

“Conscience is the trade name of the firm.”

With some leaders appearing to have a more active conscience than others, when the extremely self-centred traits associated with society’s most “illegitimate leaders” are examined, it could transpire they may not be capable of moral reasoning beyond the “pre-conventional” level of self-interest which prioritises achieving their own desires, associated by Kohlberg with primary school children, if at all.

Could it be that for some business and societal leaders, irrespective of nationality, race or gender, self-interest is not an option they willingly choose, rather is their prevailing state of mind?

What are the implications for society if some such people managing and even leading organisations and nations may be incapable of reasoning morally beyond the stage associated with primary school children, and are mistakenly chosen for leadership roles when they lack the fundamental ability to manage their own emotions, let alone accept responsibility for the welfare of those they are tasked with leading, their organisation and its role in society?

Talking the talk is no substitute for actually being capable of walking the walk. Indeed in their case there may be a deep disconnect between their talk, deeds and reality.

When “leaders” feel better from making others feel worse, there is clearly something wrong and questions need to be asked why they were chosen to lead in the first place.

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”.

Indeed the four core features common to all Personality Disorders, with two required for diagnosis, are

  1. Distorted thinking patterns,
  2. Problematic emotional responses,
  3. Over- or under-regulated impulse control and
  4. Interpersonal difficulties,

none of which are attributes which society needs in those with responsibility for its institutions and their people.

Yet far too frequently some or all of these are evident in the behaviour of leaders, erroneously associated with strength of character and leadership, rather than weakness of personality and an inability to manage their own emotions, let alone lead other people.

One of the definitions of a “Personality Disorder” is pervasive patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and the self that interfere with long-term functioning of the individual and are not limited to isolated episodes.”

Some can feel invincible described as “a belief in one’s uniqueness and invulnerability” and absolutely convinced about their superiority, whether with any foundation or not.

“Self-centred” has been defined by Merriem-Webster as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests” and “independent of outside force or influence”.

“Narcissistic Personality” is described as “a pattern of traits and behaviours characterised by excessive self-concern and overvaluation of the self.”

Amongst the traits associated with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” are:

  1. Long-standing pattern of grandiose self-importance and an exaggerated sense of talent and achievements
  2. Exhibitionistic need for attention and admiration from others
  3. Others need to “walk on eggshells” in their company given their volatility
  4. Belief that they are special and most others are inferior, not worthy of being associated with them
  5. Sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment from others
  6. They believe they are normal and all the problems and challenges they create are the fault of situations or other people who they find it easy to blame, but cannot accept responsibility for their innate irresponsibility
  7. Need for praise from others who can be belittled and even have their character assassinated falsely and fictitiously for disrespecting their superiority
  8. When not being praised by others they can praise themselves, sometimes extravagantly, including for achievements only they recognise
  9. Behave arrogantly with a conceited, pretentious & pompous manner. Boastful of their talents or achievements even if greatly exaggerated or even totally fictitious, only present in their own version of reality, the unique world they live in
  10. Active imaginations especially about themselves and rules to be obeyed (their own not society’s)
  11. Huge belief in their invulnerability and ability to “get away” with anything
  12. Tendency to fantasise about success, power, brilliance or beauty.
  13. Expect to be recognised as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  14. Total disregard for the emotions of others which they may not be able to experience, due to an inability to empathise with the feelings of others
  15. Take advantage of others to get what they want; interest will be shown in other people only while they serve a useful purpose, otherwise they will be ignored and discarded
  16. All other people can be coldly experienced no different from inanimate objects (such as shopfront mannequins) who only exist to be used to satisfy their insatiable personal needs, but otherwise have no intrinsic value as people, nor any interests or needs worthwhile knowing as ultimately they do not matter
  17. Find it easy to be “ruth-less”, meaning free of sympathy
  18. Envious of others or belief they may be envious of them
  19. Insist on being and having the best of everything
  20. Need unquestioning compliance from others and may not be able to cope with non-compliance or criticism as they can be “thin-skinned” and easily slighted
  21. Need praise but cannot genuinely praise others, preferring to find reason for fault when praise may be most warranted
  22. Thrive on criticism but can’t cope when this is directed at them; whether warranted or not this always seems to be without merit in their mind as they can grossly over react to anything they perceive to be criticism, even if not or no critique was intended
  23. Blame other people, events or situations for their own errors, inadequacies or failings
  24. “With prejudice” well describes those who hold deep and long-lasting grudges and seek revenge and retaliation, even for trivial reasons such as others merely offering a different opinion from theirs, as they can derive more pleasure from disrespecting than respecting others, especially those who dare to criticise them.
  25. Poor at regulating their emotions so can be moody and temperamental
  26. Impatience or temper tantrums when criticised or don’t receive special treatment. React with cold indifference or feelings of rage or emptiness in response to criticism, indifference or defeat
  27. Cold when others would expect them to be warm.
  28. Disinterested in others or their interests and achievements when others would expect them to be interested
  29. Interpersonal problems, require others to be subservient and sycophantic and can treat others with contempt and hatred for little apparent reason
  30. Much of their behaviour can be seen to promote themselves and put-down, discourage, disparage and even humiliate others
  31. Struggle to learn from mistakes, change or adapt their behaviour
  32. They cannot properly understand other people and never will, but a major problem for society is that they think they can, unaware of their own emotional deficiencies
  33. Even after their organisation or entity has collapsed, with many people’s lives adversely affected, they struggle to see what they did wrong
  34. Those without a sense of wrong must have something wrong with them
  35. Making others feel bad can make them feel good
  36. Those who have been in relationships with narcissists, whether professional or personal,  say amongst the worst aspects is their disloyalty. Only capable of loyalty to themselves, they seem to get a special kick from openly disagreeing with and publicly putting down those they are supposed to be agreeable with and loyal to
  37. Given their own fundamental inability to change, the onus to tactfully adapt to the many challenges they present lies with everyone else involved for any semblance of harmonious normality to be feasible
  38. Those astute, insightful and peacemaking colleagues capable of adapting their behaviour need to respond daily to diminish the degree of harm and havoc these inveterate troublemakers invariably and innately bring to ANY group situation
  39. Given they can seem to live in a world all of their own, in which they may be the most extraordinary person ever born and everyone else significantly inferior, all their assertions and declarations will necessitate independent third party verification and the most apt advice, especially when they promote themselves and criticise, disparage and even damage the reputation of others, often quite falsely, may be to FIRST BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say or assert (which may be closer to reality or the truth of any situation) until this can be verified, as otherwise they just cannot be believed at all. If this advice sounds bizarre, it is because their words, deeds, behaviour and indeed mindset can seem irrational if not bizarre when compared with the rationality of others. VANITY MAY NOT EQUATE WITH SANITY.

None of these traits are those which anyone would advocate in a leader. Yet time after time some or many of them are present, proving how frequently other people in society simply choose those with the wrong personality type for management or leadership of other people, either charmed or intimidated (or both) into appointing them before the gravity of this mistake in due course becomes more apparent. This is then compounded by the extent they will go to to maintain the power they should never gave been granted, having no qualms about damaging other people, their reputation and that of the organisation itself en route.

Ultimately they are more likely to do more harm than good to the entity they mis-lead and the people they disrespect, those they should be setting an admirable example for.

Yet such situations are entirely avoidable because at the end of the (excessively long) day their behaviour is entirely predictable. 

When salient advice to those who have to deal with such people includes:

1. BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say,
2. DO THE OPPOSITE of what they want,
3. ADVISE THEM THE OPPOSITE of what you want them to do,
4. Ensure the GREAT IDEA is seen to be theirs, otherwise it won’t be actioned, and
5. PRAISE THEM PROFUSELY as, not only do they need and crave praise, but they can’t deal with an iota of criticism themselves, something they are masters at dishing out, yet find it hard to praise others, especially when most warranted,

there is clearly something very wrong, especially in those who may lack an internal sense of wrong.

Others having to “walk on eggshells” in and around them just proves how inappropriate they were for senior roles in the first place.

Such a mindset and behaviour forces too many colleagues to waste far too much of their time dealing with their leader’s idiosyncrasies than doing the job they are employed to do – responsibly and constructively managing their organisation – benefitting ALL the “stakeholders”, not just the impulsive needs and personal ambitions of their self-centred, unbalanced, moody, temperamental and “Disordered Leader”.

Fortunately it is their very predictability and inability to amend their own behaviour which allows “us” an insight into the very different world “they” inhabit, but this predictability only becomes apparent when other people first learn what traits to look for, then act on this knowledge by denying such fundamentally irresponsible people any (significant) position of responsibility.

Smart words do not make for smart leadership when there is a deep and fundamental disconnect between words, actions and reality.

This can be especially so when leaders do not seek or listen to the astute and perhaps conciliatory advice likely to be available from their more collegiate colleagues and they show no apparent remorse nor learn from the experience when the results of their angry and impulsive behaviour, necessity to hold grudges and seek revenge, even for triviality, disadvantage other people (including those they are supposed to be leading and setting an example for) and damage relationships which someone else will subsequently have to re-build, or at least try.

Perhaps throughout human history (so maybe this piece should be titled “the not so new abnormal”?) society would appear to have mistaken charm, intelligence, smooth talking, arrogance and even callous ruthlessness for “managerial ability” due to a misconception associated with appointing highly self-centred people to leadership positions, consistently mistaking outwardly dynamic displays of confidence and eloquent talk of integrity for strength of character and intimidatory traits for strength of leadership, when in reality such fundamentally weak and perhaps childlike people may possess neither good character nor genuine managerial or leadership ability.

Children describe such traits as bullying, so why does adult society find intimidation acceptable in its managers and leaders, including in those who psychologists liken to primary school children?

It should go without saying that people like feeling appreciated and valued, yet too many managers and leaders do not make other people feel important.

When the only people they value and appreciate are themselves, the organisation or indeed any grouping or entity they are in charge of is likely to face problems it would not if it were instead managed and led by people with a different personality or “dispositional attribution”.

In stark contrast with situations involving inclusion, persuasion and respect, 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?

Intimidation and aggression produce fear, anxiety and discouragement, yet somehow people who regularly rather than exceptionally put-down, humiliate and disrespect others can extraordinarily be associated with “strength” of management or leadership rather than weakness of character and indeed perhaps even a “Personality Disorder”.

While many people in society feel good from making others feel good, what needs to be better and indeed more globally appreciated is that there may be something wrong with those who themselves feel good when they make others feel bad.

What does exclusion, especially of those who would expect to be included, actually achieve?

“Constructive Leaders” who encourage people and build teams know well that “Public praise and private criticism” achieves far more than “Public criticism and little or no praise”, as practiced by “Destructive Leaders” far more adept at discouraging people and damaging teamwork. This can be especially so when they specialise in turning people (who should be co-operating towards some common goal) against each other, making enemies of friends rather than friends of enemies.

Yet somehow we make such people “leaders” and mis-associate their arrogant destructivity with “strength of leadership” rather than a deep and fundamental flaw of personality, totally and utterly inappropriate to any form of management and certainly not leadership, especially when their necessity for control becomes uncontrollable.

Society needs leaders who find it easy to love and difficult to hate, rather than those who find it easy to hate and impossible to love  – anyone but themselves.

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 teamwork and co-operation, quite the opposite of what all entities in global society expect of their managers and leaders, yet extraordinarily can be accepted as part and parcel of “strong management” rather than a fundamental character flaw totally out of place in an organisational context, indeed inappropriate in any group situation.

Indeed those who regularly criticise, discourage and ultimately discourage others are not only inappropriate for any managerial position but are those who leaders will need to deal with to prevent them damaging the culture of the organisation and emotional welfare of their people, not promote experts in demotivation to seniority of position well beyond the limitations of their personality.

No matter what their other talents may be, including intelligence and eloquence, an inability to show any genuine interest in other people is not indicative of a naturally endowed ability to influence and motivate a group of people towards achieving a common goal, or what is commonly referred to as “leadership”.

People such as this are entirely predictable – such as these 39 characteristics of 400 I have identified – which means when others learn how to identify them by way of what they struggle to change – their own behaviour – they can be denied the positions of power within society which they can only mis-use.

One “giveaway” is when they consistently seem to prefer discouraging and disparaging others, rather than praising and encouraging them.

A highly-competitive or even “toxic” organisational culture is most likely to be due to managers and/or leaders with one or more of the “Cluster B” Personality Disorder(s).

Yet we trust “Disordered Leaders” with responsibility for the lives and emotions of other people, when they cannot even properly manage their own.

While many people in society feel good from making others feel good, what needs to be better and indeed more globally appreciated is that there may be something wrong with those who themselves feel good when they make others feel bad.

Society needs leaders who find it easy to love and difficult to hate, rather than those who find it easy to hate and impossible to love  – anyone but themselves.

Time after time we choose such people for senior roles for which they are deeply, utterly and fundamentally ill-equipped.

Fortunately it is their very predictability and inability to amend their own behaviour which allows “us” an insight into the very different world “they” inhabit, but this predictability only becomes apparent when other people learn what traits to look for…

Those whose vision is limited to their own perspective, evaluating matters by primarily considering “what’s in it for me?”, are incapable of providing a worthwhile vision for the entity they lead nor inspiring those they lead to follow their unworthy example.

Other people need to be warned not to allow themselves to fall for their external charisma which may transpire to be skin-deep, especially when one day they engage in false flattery of others for the purpose of personal advantage, which can rapidly turn the next day to the most severe character assassination of the same person, just because they disagreed with their (bizarre) point of view.

In their (disordered and distorted) mind at least, the only person that matters is themselves, incapable of seeing the merits in others, except as rivals to be defeated and fired rather than appreciated and hired.

Fractious people thrive on friction and extraordinarily even fiction, which they can confuse with the actual facts.

Yet we mistakenly trust the most delusional with responsibility for the lives and emotions of others, when they cannot even successfully manage their own.

Their way of thinking can be grossly distorted and their lives fraught with interpersonal difficulties, which like their many faults and errors they consistently blame on others as they accept no responsibility for the many problems they create, especially as they lack the ability to learn from their mistakes which they are well capable of regularly repeating.

Groundhog Day can be every day for those who have no option but to share their working or personal lives with such people, who should not be trusted with managing a street corner newspaper stand let alone an organisation of substance or (perish the thought) a nation with responsibility for all (not just some) of its people.

Their necessity to “prevail” at all costs, maximised when this is at the expense of others, preferring “win-lose” to “win-win”, irrespective of the consequences for others and extraordinarily even themselves, results in their praising and promoting themselves while criticising, disparaging and humiliating others.

Unable to accept criticism, disproportionate responses can include deep hatred and holding of long-standing grudges, not only “attacking their accuser” but also engaging in a “campaign” of invention and “distortion”, being “the conscious misrepresentation of facts”, and “character assassination”, described as “the slandering of a person usually with the intention of destroying public confidence in that person”.

While some can have fantasies of unlimited power or brilliance, this can also involve confusing fact with fiction and being absolutely convinced about their version of events, even if they bear little resemblance to reality.

“Delusion” has been described as “an often highly personal idea or belief system, not endorsed by one’s culture or subculture, that is maintained with conviction in spite of irrationality or evidence to the contrary” with examples including “delusions of being controlled, delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution” and “delusional jealousy” which can involve being “constantly on the watch for indications that this belief is justified, manufacturing evidence if it is not to be found, and completely disregarding facts that contravene the conviction.”

People with “Cluster A – Paranoid Personality Disorder” feel suspicious of others, especially when  their mistrust is unfounded and seem to be imagining threats, including in trivia.

“Paranoid Personality Disorder” is characterised by “(a) pervasive, unwarranted suspiciousness and distrust (e.g., expectation of trickery or harm, overconcern with hidden motives and meanings); (b) hypersensitivity (e.g., being easily slighted or offended, readiness to counterattack); and (c) restricted affectivity (e.g., emotional coldness, no true sense of humour).”

The associated traits include:

  1. Believing that others are using, lying to, deceiving, exploiting or harming them, without any real evidence.
  2. Doubting the loyalty and trustworthiness of others.
  3. Won’t confide in others due to the belief that their confidence will be betrayed.
  4. Looking for hidden meanings in gestures and conversations and misinterpreting ambiguous or benign remarks as hurtful or threatening.
  5. Holding grudges and seeking retaliation, even if unwarranted.
  6. Believing their reputation or character are being attacked by others, without objective evidence.
  7. May believe friends, family and romantic partners are untrustworthy and unfaithful, without justification.
  8. Can engage in outbursts of anger in response to perceived deception.
  9. Often described as cold, jealous, secretive and serious.
  10. Overly controlling in relationships in order to avoid being exploited or manipulated.
  11. Can tend to hold negative views of other people.
  12. Overly sensitive to criticism and can significantly overreact to perceived criticism.

Yet we make such people leaders, so much so that some may even consider aspects of these traits acceptable or “part and parcel of senior management”.

There is an expression from the world of finance, especially advocated by professional accountants, being experienced business advisors, that “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”. 

The wonderful world we share may benefit from differentiating between vanity and sanity, being less attracted by the claims of the vain in favour of the greater merits of the sane, even if less apparently exciting.

Another “Cluster B” Personality Disorder, psychopathy, was the lifelong work of the late US psychiatrist Professor Hervey Cleckley, who between 1941 and 1976 updated his seminal book “The Mask of Sanity”.

One aspect of this disorder is an inability to be truthful, which he described as follows:

“[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. Candor 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… 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 honor… The conception of living up to his word seems, in fact, to be regarded as little more than a phrase…

[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.

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…

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…

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

Society faces a challenge when some of its leaders “show a remarkable disregard for truth” especially when this may be attributable to a personality disorder. While conscious that they are lying, this does not bother such people as it would many others. This problem can be further compounded when they also seem to be out of touch with reality.

“Delusion” has been defined by the American Psychological Association as “an often highly personal idea or belief system, not endorsed by one’s culture or subculture, that is maintained with conviction in spite of irrationality or evidence to the contrary.”

My personal definition of this attribute is more basic: “Fact is confused with fiction, which then seems to replace the facts in their mind, to the degree that they seem to genuinely believe the fiction to be facts. They can be absolutely adamant about their version of events, no matter how unreal, which can lead to a a great deal of confusion, especially to those familiar with the actual facts”.  

This situation can be so bizarre to those who cannot understand how someone can have such different opinions or recollections of the same situation or event, that between 2015 and 2016 I wrote over 100 tips on how to deal with narcissistic leaders.

Here is a short extract of how everyone else has to amend their behaviour, given their inability to do so:

1. Too good to be true: Those who select people for managerial and leadership positions need to be particularly cognisant of the personality of the candidates and not be impressed by surface level charm or assertions which seem to be too good to be true. Remarkably they may even appear to be totally convinced of the accuracy of their assertions themselves, even if predominantly or fully fictitious.

2. Fact and Fiction: In due course other people realise, especially when their recollection of situations and events differs from their own, they may possess an extraordinary ability to confuse fact and fiction in the manner they want to recall matters themselves or ensure others perceive them, even if this bears little or no resemblance to reality. When they seem to genuinely believe their own lies and misinterpretations, they cause great difficulty in group situations and consequently cannot be trusted to supervise, manage or lead other people.

3. Rumour-mongers: When they spread malicious and untrue rumours about others, sometimes described as a “distortion campaign” or “character assassination”, they fail to appreciate that people can see through their slander and lies. However many will be unaware of these traits and naturally tend to accept what they say to be truthful, so those who are aware have a responsibility to tactfully warn others so they may begin to doubt their extraordinary assertions.

4. First believe the opposite: So when they significantly speak themselves up or severely disparage other people in a manner that may appear excessive, or seem unlikely based on the known character of the person they are being critical of, there is a simple solution which although it may initially sound bizarre, with practice will transpire to be a very successful way of both understanding and dealing with their own extraordinary verbosity: FIRST BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say or assert until this can be verified, as otherwise they just cannot be believed at all.

5. Independent third party verification: Given that they can sometimes seem to live in a world all of their own, in which they may be the most extraordinary person ever born and everyone else significantly inferior, all their assertions and declarations will necessitate independent third party verification. Given the ability of some people in society not only to lie convincingly, even when found out, but also their tendency for pure invention, which they can seem to genuinely believe to be factual themselves, even if pure fiction, their stories concerning both themselves and others will need verification before they can be believed. So be prepared for their imagination to be switched on full by switching on your own mental faculties and initially BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say until someone impartial and independent can verify anything they may assert, especially about themselves or anyone they may consider to be rivals, which could be anyone who has merely proffered a different opinion to theirs or dared be critical of them, even in a trivial or humorous manner.

6. Story-telling and Story-changing: Any little real respect others had for them can be diminished even further, especially when their untruths are found out. When they react by just changing their story and this does not appear to cost them a bother at all, nor display any apparent guilt or remorse for their inappropriate words and deeds, this may initially baffle those who have to deal with them until, over time, they appreciate that these may be fundamental character flaws. There is a simple solution though. Don’t employ, promote or believe them. Not one word.

7. Who has to change? The inability of disordered people to amend their own highly competitive behaviour suggests that it is all the other people involved who will have to change, if meaningful progress is to be made and their characteristics be prevented by more astute colleagues from damaging and dominating the corporate culture or whatever other environment they inhabit.

Having been exposed to over 50 such people during my career, which I failed to properly comprehend for 25 years, I can testify what a great challenge those with such a mindset can pose to everyone else with no option but to deal with them, one solution being to learn what behavioural traits to look for, preferably in advance of granting seniority of position to those who seem to inhabit a different world from everyone else.

Those with “shallow emotions” who experience other people no differently than inanimate objects – such as shopfront mannequins – can perceive or misconceive many areas of organisational and national life being like a “game”, including business, politics and government.

It is all about the conquest, winning and possession of what they desire, being better and having more than those they see to be a rival (who frequently are not), with other far more important factors not nearly as relevant as they should be in their perception and deliberations.

Hence:

  • “Getting their own way”,
  • “Winning at all costs, irrespective of consequences for others”, and
  • “Evaluating matters from the primary perspective of “what’s in it for me?”

becomes more critical for them than in the minds of most other, more “normal” people.

Personality Disorders can vary from being shy, timid, anxious and afraid to face life to supremely self-confident and arrogant with little regard for other people, perhaps even taking pleasure from being cruel, lacking warm emotions and maybe believing that others are “ganging up” and “out to get” them.

The key issue for everyone else, including most in society unfamiliar with the “extra-ordinary” world of Personality Disorders, is that they actually do inhabit a quite different world, although they may not realise this themselves.

The world they inhabit is the only one they know, incapable of experiencing life in the manner that everyone else can.

Despite the problems such people create throughout society from impaired relationships and damaged reputations to business failures, chaos and even wars, which throughout history they may not only have started but then perpetuated, being troublemakers not peacemakers, the concept of Personality Disorders needs to become more widely appreciated to better understand “difficult” people and their initially bizarre, but in due course entirely predictable behaviour, to sufficiently realise that their motivations differ from those of most “normal” people.

Yet we appoint such people to lead our businesses and nations. This article aims to address this anomaly.

Mark Twain apparently observed that:

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

Surface level appeal can transpire to be shallow, like the emotions of the most charming who ultimately can disappoint, especially when they favour short-term expediency, narrow-minded popularism, their own ambitions, giving the impression of doing right rather than doing it and taking credit for the achievements of others, given that their peculiar sense of right and wrong is limited to believing that they are always right and everyone else wrong and can see no wrong in their own words and deeds when these fall far short of what society would expect of them.

At the end of the day, it isn’t all about them, although they persist in believing that it is, often appearing to be unaware of their inadequacies and immune to the real damage they do, given the opportunity.

The gaelic expression “mé féin” or “me myself” is not that which should be associated with leaders.

Indeed so many of the world’s problems, little and large, local and international, could so readily be prevented, or constructively solved, if collectively we better appreciated how to choose the right people with the right intentions and the most appropriate personality for the responsible roles we trust them with, not the most irresponsible, untrustworthy and destructive people possible, with entirely predictable and inevitable consequences, not their concern or responsibility, as they always find someone or something else, or both, to blame, criticise, disparage and diminish, without remorse, as they deny the undeniable and defend the indefensible.

So why can we not predict the predictable?

People with identifiable Personality Disorders can be “found in every race, culture, society and walk of life”, so one of the most critical matters to appreciate is that as “Disordered Leaders” see things differently, experience people differently, perceive many matters differently, think differently, behave differently and inhabit a quite different world from most others in society, it is imperative that they be recognised by decision-makers as being substantially different from the norm, being consummate actors hiding their true selves much of the time, hence need to be dealt with significantly differently, including denying them positions of power which they can only abuse, if they are no longer to be permitted to continue to damage the world that everyone else inhabits.

Because they do inhabit a different world, the rest of the world would benefit from appreciating the importance of being able to identify them, to deny them the opportunity of damaging the world in which many others, including Constructive Leaders, do their best to live in collaboratively and harmoniously, in the company of many other decent, kind and encouraging people, with a genuine interest in both other people and whatever they may be interested in.

When the potentially more wonderfully fair, just, co-operative, united, harmonious, caring (for people and planet), calm, tranquil and peaceful world we share, including the unnecessarily combative, individualistic, disconnected, divided, unfair and unjust branches of global society, led by the wrong type of people, troublemakers in disguise, better learns how to identify such ICE cold people, often Intelligent, Charming and Eloquent, but ultimately primarily Interested in themselves, Cold (maybe Cruel) and Empathy-free, to deny them the power they will inevitably mis-use, it will perhaps better appreciate that:

“Prevention is infinitely better than the improbability of cure.”

Yet extraordinarily we trust the coldest and most self-centred people possible – expert actors but ultimately lacking any genuine interest in other people at all, indeed in anyone but themselves, whose often considerable charm is skin deep and lacking any sincerity, whose often ample intelligence is misused, being cunningly calculating and anything but emotional, those lacking the core essence of humanity, perhaps amongst the most irresponsible people on earth – with responsibility for the lives of employees, volunteers and citizens throughout global society when they hold positions of power, which they inevitably can only abuse as they prioritise competition and conflict over co-operation, disharmony over harmony and themselves over everyone and anything else.

Appreciating that their conscience-free mind may be disordered, thinking distorted and emotional depth shallow, could be a critical first step on the road to progress, otherwise a frustratingly fruitless exercise.

Any attempts at trying to deal with them “normally” may well be doomed to failure.

When those unable to control their own emotions are accompanied by a necessity to “control” other people and situations, especially when their need to control becomes uncontrollable, they cannot be trusted to be in charge or control of other people at all, in any shape or form.

Lacking the vision required of leaders, but being incessant pity-seekers (best described as “poor me”), they nevertheless somehow manage to see persecution where there is none, or none intended, just different opinions which in the minds of most normal people are a healthy part of deliberation and debate, the give and take which results in the most sensible path to progress by way of decisions which weigh up risk and reward and try to consider and balance the interests of the most appropriate “stakeholders”, or the most relevant groups of people involved or impacted by the decision, not the self-interest and pride of the leader.

When other people consider “there seems to be something wrong here but we’re not quite sure what this may be” they may well be dealing with someone with one or a combination of the various Personality Disorders, with a few examples cited here.

While other people may consider there is something wrong, this belief may not be shared by those who consistently cause trouble for their often beleaguered colleagues.

People with many of the Personality Disorders just do not believe there is anything wrong with them, so see no need to change nor seek treatment, which they may not even cooperate with in the unlikely event that treatment transpires. Those with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” and related disorders may not because they feel superior to others. Their inferiors are the real problem.

Those with “Paranoid Personality Disorder” also feel there is nothing wrong with them, although others may see them as being excessively suspicious and unnecessary hostile. In their mind, their suspicions of others are quite justified. It is these other people who are the real problem and they are the reasons for the degree of moderate to significant dysfunction, havoc and even mayhem which their mis-management and mal-leadership inevitably brings.

Characteristics such as these should disqualify such people from consideration for senior roles, but incredibly (meaning “hard to believe”) these traits are evident amongst people holding significant positions throughout society. One reason is too many other people (especially those with the right credentials for seniority) just do not seem to know what traits to look for, primarily to identify them to deny such people they power they need and demand but are incapable of using for the purpose intended, then become difficult to replace as they prioritise maintenance of the power they crave over all other considerations, irrespective of the cost to others.

The other main reason it becomes important to be able to identify such “disordered” people is to realise that trying to deal with them “normally” is likely to result in abject failure and a variety of countermeasures will instead need to be tactically employed in dealing with them, to diminish the damage they can do not only to the culture of their organisation (or nation) but also to the lives and emotions of those who have no choice but to work with or for them.

At the end of the day when people learn what traits to look for, the “disordered people” themselves facilitate this task of preventing them from becoming “disordered leaders”, because they actually “give the game away” themselves by way of what they cannot hide or change – their own behavioural traits.

This can take some time to notice and appreciate. Indeed it took me over 25 years in industry, working with hundreds of organisations, before a coffee with a psychologist led to my recognising that I had actually worked with or for over 50 such people and how similar much of their behaviour actually was, although they worked in different sectors, nations and even continents.

Now that I can associate many of my worst experiences in business with what I describe as “Destructive Leaders” and many of my best with the fortunately far more plentiful “Constructive Leaders”, I feel a responsibility to share what I have learned so some unfortunate experiences may transpire to be fortunate, as it becomes increasingly apparent how damaging “Disordered Leaders” can be, no matter what area of life they inhabit.

This is because they do inhabit a different world from the rest of us – and how important it is to be able to identify them – so they are not afforded the opportunity to damage the world the rest of us do our best to live in constructively and harmoniously, in the company of many other decent, kind and encouraging people with a genuine interest in both other people and whatever they may be interested in.

As people with specific Personality Disorders can be “found in every race, culture, society and walk of life”, one of the most critical matters to appreciate is that disordered people see things differently, experience people differently, perceive many matters differently, think differently, behave differently and inhabit a quite different world from most others in society, it is imperative that they be recognised by others as being substantially (but not entirely) different from the norm, being consummate actors hiding their true selves much of the time, hence need to be dealt with significantly differently, if they are no longer to be permitted to continue to damage the world that everyone else inhabits.

But as those with a Personality Disorder rarely see themselves as being different or as being the problem, as they blame all their faults and failings on everyone else, this places the onus to be “responsible” and “constructive” on those who, out of necessity, spend an inordinate amount of their time dealing with the whims of their unbalanced and perhaps “Disordered Leader”.

At the US IVBEC business ethics conference, held in Dublin in October 2019, I proposed that the steps the rest of society needs to take to protect itself from such leaders include:

1  Identify these abnormal people, by way of their own behaviour, as being different from the norm,
2  Adapt to respond to their sometimes extraordinary actions & reactions (evident due to their “maladaptive” inflexibility),
3  Learn how to behave differently towards them (“denying narcissistic supply”),
4  Minimise the damage & havoc they will inevitably create, and
5  Deny them positions of influence & responsibility throughout global society.

Even after their organisation has collapsed with many people’s lives adversely affected, these emotionally labile individuals, because that is what they are, not team-players, can still wonder what they did wrong, finding it easy to apportion blame but impossible to accept responsibility.

At that conference, rotated annually between the three East Coast USA Vincentian universities and now also the former Vincentian All Hallows College in Dublin, now part of one of my alma maters, Dublin City University,  I proposed the following initial definition of a “Disordered Leader”:

“Someone trusted with supervisory, managerial or leadership responsibilities who, due to what may be a personality/mental disorder(s), may be incapable of responsible management or leadership, including prioritising the interests of stakeholders other than themselves, especially when these impede satisfying their self-interest.”

All comment, critique and further suggestions would of course be welcomed.

In the “beautiful” field of “Social Psychology”, when someone loses something they once had, they are all the more aware of its absence and can go to great lengths to get it back.

Losing something of sentimental value then finding it can make it better appreciated, while the satisfaction from finding a lost 50 note can exceed the pleasure from being given it in the first place.

I propose the opposite applies to those with a Personality Disorder – not knowing what they are missing – notably with those who lack what I argue is one of the key managerial abilities (as well as a mutually happy life) – empathy – especially when this extends beyond understanding other people to sharing their emotional highs and lows, showing an interest in and caring sufficiently for them to want to say or do something to make them happy, especially when they may be sad for any reason.

“Emotional Intelligence” research has shown that these are amongst the traits which endear followers to their leaders and build the kind of healthy relationships that can even transform organisations, because ultimately the strength or weakness in Constructive or Destructive leaders lies in their relationships and whether they develop or demolish them.

As well as empathy, the same can apply to guilt, remorse, conscience and the warmer emotions in general, including compassion ,”ruth” or sympathy and the capacity to love and be loved.

People lacking or deficient in these qualities do not notice the absence of something they never possessed in the first place.

How can you tell someone fundamentally unkind that they lack empathy, when not only do they have no conception of its real meaning, but can never have?

Another key feature of Personality Disorders, in effect  a disordered personality, is that the disordered person often believes there is nothing wrong with them at all.

They believe other people (who they blame) are responsible for the difficulties they create throughout society, especially for other people but also for themselves, yet may not have sufficient emotional depth to appreciate that it was they who created the problems.

Indeed those with particularly extreme self-belief can even consider that they are extremely talented and adept at areas others know them to be poor or even appalling.

Nor can they be told.

For some it can be beyond their personal capacity to appreciate their inabilities or deficiencies.

Combined with an inability to learn from prior experiences (especially their mistakes which they consequently repeat, sometimes time and time again), it is no wonder such people struggle to change or improve, especially when they see no necessity to do so, even if they were capable, which they may not be, given the “inflexible” or “maladaptive” nature of Personality Disorders.

Yet we make such people leaders.

Similarly how can you tell the vast majority of society’s kindest, fairest and most decent people, with an abundance of empathy, emotional intelligence and highly active consciences, that a minority actually differ fundamentally from them and have no real interest in other people at all, no matter how well they manage to mask their true inner coldness from most people, most of the time, by way of their charm, intelligence and eloquence?

One of society’s greatest secrets is the extraordinary but critically important world of Personality Disorders which makes one if its greatest challenges being to convince the majority that a minority possess significantly different minds (empathy and conscience free zones), that their self-centredness is so deep that they care little for anyone (but themselves), that their talents and intelligence are ultimately wasted when they cannot use it to genuinely want to better the lives of others, especially when their ruth-less ambition brings them to seniority of position throughout global society.

Perhaps it is as difficult for those lacking empathy to appreciate what they may be missing as it is for those with an abundance of life’s warmest emotions to consider that some of life’s most apparently charming, smart and silver-tongued people may actually be fundamentally different from them and in reality are quite cold, calculating, deceptive, manipulative and so ruthlessly mean-hearted that they can be at their happiest when making others unhappy.

In due course their words will transpire to be insincere and their promises quite empty.

Yet we let them lead our organisations, entities and, even more extraordinarily, our nations.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, but does this require being tough with the people they lead when this includes being disrespectful, unfair, unjust or unnecessarily critical?

Do tough times not require the leader to encourage rather than discourage those they are supposed to be leading and setting an admirable example for?

Yet far too often when a difficult situation arises, managers and leaders  “blow their top” and shout and scream at those they are expecting to be creative in solving the problems, failing to appreciate that people better respond to encouragement than discouragement and that different parts of their brain are actually activated during positive and negative experiences.

So discouraging and even humiliating people triggers quite the opposite emotional response which is capable of putting them in the right frame of mind to solve rather than deepen problems and crises.

While many people are exceptionally warm, welcoming and concerned for the interests and needs of others, a minority are far colder than others, with little real interest in anyone but themselves.

Yet a key and perhaps curious question arises when considering “selfish, difficult and proud people”.

How can they be such expert manipulators, both of people and situations, predominantly to their own advantage, if their behaviour is capable of being associated with a “profound lack of empathy”?

The answer may lie in there being a number of different forms of empathy, with some people experiencing it in quite a shallow and calculated manner and others with a great depth of emotion.

The depth of empathy some people appear to be capable of experiencing appears to be limited to (a) putting themselves in the shoes of another, understanding their situation, without necessarily experiencing this in an emotional manner, opening themselves up to the possibility of being perceived as being “cold and calculating”.

A deeper form of empathy involves (b) appreciating and sharing the feelings of other people and (c) going even further by being capable of responding to the good, bad or sad moods of others in an appropriately joyful or sympathetic manner.

“Emotional Empathy”, also known as “Affective Empathy” or “Primitive Empathy”, involves the more naturally spontaneous, impulsive and intuitive ability to build emotional connections with other people by feeling and sharing their emotions, by way of “emotional contagion”, being “the rapid spread of an emotion from one or a few individuals to others.”

Sharing emotions can be facilitated by making better efforts to listen carefully, “active listening”, including perhaps refraining from interrupting or interjecting relevant personal opinions or experiences, but does not necessarily result in expressing sympathy to others nor coming to their assistance.

Showing compassion or sympathy involves connecting with their plight in such a manner that it inspires some form of appropriate, kind and considerate (as opposed to cruel) response, with a view to somehow being of help and assistance to others.

Being capable of assessing a situation from the perspective of another or assuming many of the responsibilities associated with a specific role in society does not necessarily involve emotional or affective empathy.

This raises the question how some people, who by many measures appear to be “lacking in empathy”, can appreciate situations with such a depth of understanding that they may even be capable of taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves?

Unlike Emotional or Affective Empathy, being a more automatic response which just happens in many people, “Cognitive Empathy” involves a more deliberate and conscious attempt to try to be able to understand what others may be thinking or maybe even feeling, but not sharing or experiencing these same feelings, emotions, perceptions or thoughts themselves.

Neuroscientific research suggests that “the human brain responds differently when either cognitive or emotional empathy is activated.”

Cognitive empathy involves an intellectual or cognitive but not an emotional understanding, which can allow those “lacking in empathy” to avail of the situation to benefit themselves, including being significantly devious and manipulative, without feeling any compassion or sympathy towards those who they may be seeking to disadvantage.

Despite the problems such people create throughout society (and perhaps have done down the centuries) from impaired relationships and damaged reputations to business failures, chaos and even wars, which they start then perpetuate, being troublemakers not peacemakers, the concept of “Personality Disorders” needs to become more widely appreciated to better understand “difficult” people and their initially bizarre, but in due course entirely predictable behaviour, to sufficiently realise that their motivations differ from those of most “normal” people.

Those with:

“A chronic, inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking and behaving that seriously impairs an individual’s ability to function in social or other settings”

which is one of the definitions of a Personality Disorder, should be disqualified from becoming leaders of other people and societal organisations.

Do we never seem to learn?

Unless these and many other related matters are more fully appreciated and understood, the problems and challenges which disordered people innately and perhaps uniquely create are likely to persist, to the detriment of other people, organisational life and ultimately the well-being of global society.

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 and character assassination of good, well-intentioned people, with the courage to stand up to and criticise them, 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, perverse 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.

Despite being deeply untrustworthy, who lie easily and expertly without any semblance of remorse when “found out”, with a deep disconnect between their often impressive words and equally unimpressive actions, especially when their decisions and deeds are impulsive and contrary to the advice of others far more capable of sensible and rational deliberation, somehow we trust these deeply untrustworthy people with responsibility for the organisations, institutions and sometimes nations of our global society, despite they lacking the capacity for experiencing other people, who exist to be vindictively used, deceived and manipulated, any differently than a myriad of inanimate objects.

Those lacking a sense of wrong must indeed have something wrong with them, even if they believe they are always right and others wrong.

While capable of differentiating right from wrong in abstract terms, when their self-interest is involved this can seem to fly out the window as they insatiably seek to satisfy themselves, especially when this can be at the expense of others, thriving on win-lose rather than win-win.

Some do not experience fear as most people would know it, so can engage in risky behaviour and take speculative decisions others wouldn’t, often based on maximising reward or benefit,  unencumbered by the associated downside which is simply not their concern, with their focus – like a wild predator – directed only on impetuously and sometimes quite impulsively maximizing personal gain and their self-interest which, at the end of the day, is the only matter they are interested in.

Yet we let such people lead financial institutions, the organisations in society most dependent for both their success and survival on getting the right balance between risk and reward.

How many more financial institutions need to collapse, how many more organisations fail and nations go bankrupt or to war, or both, because they chose people to manage and lead them with a hidden secret – a covertly, cold and mean hearted, perhaps cruel and certainly self-centred and disordered mind?

The necessity and indeed imperative to “win at all costs” does not make for constructive, orderly progress, given that good, healthy relationships within and between organisations and nations has been proven to be the secret ingredient towards longer term success.

Indeed those for whom co-operation, collaboration, encouragement, tact, teamwork and many related factors remain a “secret sauce” in the ingredients list which makes for sensible progress, as they prefer the alternative, failed, recipe involving intimidation, disrespect, many forms of fearful dissonance and in essence themselves to others, which inevitably results in disagreement and distrust, which they may even thrive on, simply do not have the right personality for leadership and cannot be trusted with positions of responsibility, given their innate irresponsibility and incredible internal need to feel good by way of making others feel bad, discouraging rather than encouraging those they lead to perform nearer their potential and feel welcome and included rather then unwelcome, disrespected and even humiliated by someone they have little true respect for.

When colleagues and coworkers have to spend an inordinate amount of their time tending to the whims of their leaders rather than working as a team to prioritise the goals of the organisation or entity and the needs of those it was founded to serve, such as customers or citizens, rather than the insatiable personal needs and interests of a few individuals, there is clearly something wrong and it should be evident that the wrong people are in charge.

Yet time after time we choose such people for senior roles for which they are deeply, utterly and fundamentally ill-equipped.

Do we never seem to learn?

Peter Drucker wisely asserted that “the purpose of business is to create and retain a customer” yet how many organisations seem more focused on satisfying the needs of the leadership and senior management team rather than those who ultimately guarantee its continued existence – satisfied customers who receive what they want or need, serviced by employees who really enjoy coming in to work and are allowed to feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose as they are praised and encouraged rather than belittled and made to feel quite unimportant by managers really only interested in themselves?

Intimidation can never be acceptable, especially when it is seen as a routine part of the fabric of life, whatever the grouping in society may be.

Senior people out of touch with the raison d’être of the entity they are supposed to be serving, not predominantly themselves, and indeed why they are there in the first place, should never be permitted to become untouchable.

When will key decision-makers realise that those who actively seek personal gain and acclaim may least warrant it, while those who desire little or no attention for themselves or their achievements may indeed be the most praiseworthy and the most likely to offer the most astute guidance  and the best equipped to provide the most appropriate flexibility of leadership with integrity to deal with the many situations which inevitably will be faced?

The best way to give a good impression is to actually “do the right thing even when no-one is looking” and own-up not cover-up when things go wrong, as they inevitably will.

People are more likely to distrust those who try and deny the undeniable and believe they can pull the wool over the eyes of those they hope are blind to their failings.

People are not stupid and most can see through their leaders when they seek to defend the indefensible rather than own up and say “let’s learn from the experience and try and do better next time.”

People are more likely to trust those they believe are authentic, genuine, open and honest and are generally considerate of the interests and needs of those they are chosen to lead.

In the words of Ken Blanchard and Vincent Norman Peale from their very apt book “The Power of Ethical Management”:

“There is no right way to do a wrong thing.”

People of integrity are well capable of “doing the right thing when no-one is looking”, but they seem to be incapable of “doing the right thing when everyone is looking”.

Such people being chosen for seniority of position throughout global society, is also likely to result in integrity challenges, as the interests of other people let alone wider society and matters of ethics and morality are just not on the personal radar of people secretly or more overtly obsessed with themselves.

Throughout human history society seems to have mistaken confidence, charm, arrogance, apparent intelligence displayed by way of eloquent talk of integrity, for strength of character, and misinterpreted intimidatory traits for strength of leadership, when in reality such fundamentally weak and perhaps childlike people may possess neither good character nor genuine managerial or leadership ability.

Intimidation and aggression produce fear, anxiety and discouragement, which prevent our minds from thinking positively and creatively.

Yet those who put-down, humiliate, disrespect and bully others can extraordinarily be associated with “strength” rather than “weakness” of character, perhaps even a “Personality Disorder”.

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 praise, encourage, include, inspire, build teams and engender co-operation.

Yet we make such people leaders.

Then regret the predictable consequences.

When will we learn?

This makes identifying “Disordered Leaders” in advance for who they really are and denying them influence and power an absolute imperative for the safety of global society, its organisations and institutions and the welfare of its many decent, fair-minded and well-intentioned people, the kind of considerate people who naturally prefer praise to criticism, inclusion to exclusion, co-operation to unnecessary competition and harmony to disharmony.

It is such modest, “Legitimate” and “Constructive Leaders” who calmly and astutely guide many organisations along sensible and progressive paths, but remain fairly “low-key”, because they don’t feel the need to boast and are more “proud” of the achievements of the people they passionately and “constructively” lead, not themselves and their personal ego.

The most astute, “Constructive Leaders”, treat everyone the same, with esteem, irrespective of position, title, gender or race and view them as their equals not subordinates, requiring a touch of humility rather than a dose of pride and a more selfless nature which leads to treating everyone the way they would like to be treated themselves, resulting in mutual respect, reciprocity and an enthusiastic following from those they lead.

Society needs “Constructive Leaders” who prefer co-operation and collaboration to conflict, dissent and turmoil, harmony to disharmony and win-win to win-lose, ultimately preferring to peacefully resolve differences without resorting to conflict between people, within and between organisations and even war between nations when their leaders have the cold, combative, “must-win” personality and superiority disorder which results in them innately diminishing and disparaging other people and which prioritises themselves and their needs over those of the more peace-loving people they mis-lead.

Society needs to learn how to identify “Destructive” troublemakers and never, ever give up in their attempts to diminish the real damage they can do to the fabric of group life, whatever the grouping in society may be.

Society needs those capable of recognising wrong, including their own faults which they seek to learn from and rectify, who accept responsibility for the errors of those they lead, rather than those who see no wrong in words and actions which others would, do not learn from their mistakes and blame everyone else for their own failings.

Society needs those capable of hiring people more talented then themselves, rather than only those unlikely to show up their deficiencies.

Society needs those capable of firing those who do wrong, not those who try their best to put the organisation first or speak up against wrongdoing.

Society needs decisive leaders who see inclusive debate and discussion as a constructive opportunity to maximise collective progress, not “my way only”.

Society needs leaders who understand their words and deeds can significantly influence others so are careful to ensure what they say and do will encourage peaceful cooperation and never breed trouble, strife and dissent, especially between different groups of people.

Society needs leaders who appreciate that their responsibility is to unite rather than divide the people they are responsible for, including those who have never cooperated before.

Society needs leaders capable of diminishing not encouraging hatred and making friends out of former enemies, not enemies out of friends.

Society needs leaders who are peacemakers not troublemakers, encouraging by their words and deeds kindness in lieu of hatred, forgiveness instead of holding grudges, belief in goodness where there is badness, bringing hope where there is doubt and despair, lighting up people’s lives with their positivity and joy not spreading doom, gloom, sadness, despair and darkness, appreciating that it is by showing an interest in others and trying to understand them that people respond positively, rather than being exclusively interested in themselves.

Society needs leaders capable of considering the consequences of their words and actions, with the self-restraint to know when saying nothing may be more tactful and responsible, especially when they have nothing positive to say.

Society needs leaders with the self-control which prevents them from acting impulsively and irresponsibly, inconsiderate of any adverse consequences for others, including themselves.

Society needs balanced leaders capable of balancing the interests and needs of various groups they are responsible for, not consistently favouring some groups over others and even spreading dissent between them.

Society needs to learn the many lessons from the past that “Givers”, being more interested in others than themselves, make for far better leaders, especially of other people, than those “Takers” who are fundamentally more interested in themselves than others.

Society needs those who appreciate that the richness of their leadership is derived from treating everyone the same, with equal respect not prejudice, while prioritising the most needy, disadvantaged and ignored over the already wealthy, including inspiring those who have never worked to experience the many joys of the workplace.

Society needs leaders capable of persuading those considering leaving education too early to appreciate the longer term benefits of learning, while creating the opportunities for them to do so.

Society needs leaders sensitive to the needs of all, capable of favouring the most kind and sensitive over the most cruel and insensitive.

Society needs leaders who derive their primary satisfaction from making the people they lead feel better, never worse.

Society needs leaders capable of suffering criticism silently, perhaps accepting and learning from it, responding constructively not in a manner which causes others to suffer.

Society needs positive leaders capable of making opportunities from their difficulties rather than negative leaders who specialise in making difficulties from their opportunities.

Society needs to better appreciate how to identify the kind of people incapable of genuine kindness, if it is not to suffer from their fundamental lack of humanity.

Society needs leaders who appreciate that their primary responsibility is to act responsibly, preferring humility to pride.

People expect their leaders to be encouraging, show an interest in them, inspire them by words and good example to produce their best, never be discouraging and seem to want to bring out the worst in them, by words and bad example inspire hatred, seek revenge and actively encourage those they lead to be uncooperative with colleagues and peers, situations which (incredibly) happen and can even be prevalent in far too many organisations.

Of course this is totally, utterly and absolutely contrary to their being established to co-operate towards some common purpose and more likely to result in failure and perhaps bankruptcy, rather than sensible progress and successful growth.

Yet this is the unnecessarily and indeed predictably sad story which could be told by far too many unenthused employees in far too many global organisations, especially those forced to seek employment elsewhere by the “Managerial Myopia” and “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures” engendered by Disordered Leaders who covertly thrive on deceit, disagreement, dissent, distrust, disloyalty, disturbance, dissension and many other forms of dissonant disharmony and disorder, which should disqualify them from being considered for senior roles throughout society, but extraordinarily doesn’t.

Such situations can be entirely preventable, if only the sensible, rational and constructive people, with all the right credentials themselves, knew what traits to look for in advance of making the greatest mistake of their organisational lives by appointing those fundamentally incapable of prioritising the interests of anyone but themselves to senior roles for which they will transpire to be totally ill-equipped, before responding to their many failures by criticising, intimidating and blaming others.

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?”

Yet like in business, the likely impact on that critical quality we call trust appears to often not to be at the forefront of the minds of the decision-makers when they choose to try and seek an unfair advantage.

It is in situations such as these when real leadership is most required.

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 transpires to be important.

An integer is a whole number. The “wholeness” associated with the notion of “integrity” is displayed by people doing the right thing not just in some areas, visibly practicing what they preach, owning up not covering up, ensuring their words and actions live up to their values and inspiring a “can do” attitude with their positivity and enthusiasm.

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.

No-one makes a decision expecting it to backfire, yet some engage in practices which can only be counter- productive, if only their personality permitted them to see this. Winning at all costs may transpire to be far more costly than they anticipated. Surely no-one would take a decision which would result in more people wanting them to lose or fail?

One fire that needs to be lit is that in the hearts of our youth.

Who do parents want to see their children most guided by? The modest and calm or proud and petulant? Those who praise or criticise? Those who encourage or discourage? Those who include or exclude? Those who empower or intimidate? Those who prioritise the interests of others or insist on getting their own way? The kind or manipulative? The open and honest or deceitful and divisive? The peacemakers or troublemakers? The team-players or self-centred? The role models or the cheats?

Children are very influenced by society’s leaders as well as their sporting heroes, musicians and actors. They need to be set an example by everyone involved that no parent could be disappointed with should their children decide to do the same themselves.

People in the public arena have a huge and onerous responsibility to be true role models, an aspiration many manage to rise to, often admirably.

Yet this does not deter some from “crossing the line” and “pushing the envelope”. Although they may achieve little for doing so, do they deserve our respect when they do win “at all costs”?

Do they consider what the real cost may actually be? When leaders choose to “do the wrong thing” do they ever consider the impact on trust, reputation and hope?

The long term impact of their behaviour may well be that more and more hope they don’t succeed or win, as they  divert their support to their opponents!

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.

Despite the major problems such people create throughout society, from impaired relationships and damaged reputations to business failures, chaos and even wars, which throughout history they may not only have started but perpetuated, being Troublemakers not Peacemakers, the concept of Personality Disorders needs to become more widely appreciated to better understand “difficult people” and their initially bizarre, but in due course entirely predictable behaviour, to sufficiently realise their motivations differ from those of most “normal” people.

How abnormal “Disordered Leaders” must be, because when they look out on the world, all they seem to see is their own, as if blinded to the world which everyone else shares, inconsiderate of the interests and needs of anyone and anything else, not even the entity which erroneously employs them.

Yet we let them “lead”, or rather “mis-lead”.

Despite most people far better responding to encouragement than discouragement, extraordinarily some believe the intimidation they practice is indicative of some form of strength of either character or leadership, rather than a deep character flaw.

Until intimidatory traits become more associated with illegitimate management, this misconception, which may have blighted global society for generations, will continue to the detriment of interpersonal trust and the reputation of the entities who appointed them, before they may subsequently be given sufficient reason to doubt their own sanity for choosing them.

Those who gradually get to know and begin to understand, as best they can, narcissistic people and what seems to motivate them, will realise that any interest they may show in others is likely to be pure pretense. Putting others first does just not appear to be part of their psyche.

Their pride of seems to innately focussed on themselves, inconsiderate of the interests and needs of those they lead. Some can be merciless, remorseless and ultimately disrespected by their peers, who do what they demand out of fear of the consequences of failing to do so, although this sends out entirely the wrong message to those nearer the beginning than end of their careers, unfortunate to work for the wrong role models.

Victims of their insensitive callousness can include respect, honour, trust, reputation, integrity, professionalism and healthy relationships, all of which are important to those with a genuine interest in other people and the organisations which employ them, but of little real concern to those who are fundamentally cold and ruthless at heart with little authentic interest in anyone but themselves.

Which type of person makes for a better leader, not just of businesses but also political parties, governments, nations and other entities and organizations in society from schools and public bodies to charities and clubs?

Surely not those who are always right and never wrong, incapable of accepting responsibility for decisions and events with poor outcomes, who blame others for all their failings, being naturally combative, won’t be the first to offer an “olive branch” to try and build bridges with opponents and more likely to escalate than seek a solution to conflicts, which perhaps might not have arisen in the first place had they not been in charge.

When we choose for leadership positions those who may be perceived by their peers as troublemakers rather than peacemakers, who prefer disharmony to harmony, intimidation to persuasion, animosity to kindness, antipathy to sympathy, discord to accord, aggression to compassion, contention to compromise, petulance to patience, rancor to rapport, enmity to placidness, acrimony to courtesy, animosity to diplomacy, bad blood to goodwill, dissension to conformity, friction and hostility to friendship, rivalry to collaboration, disrespect to respect, competition to cooperation and ultimately malevolence to benevolence, why are we surprised when the outcome is closer to war than peace?

When we elect those who are more naturally antagonistic, contentious, contrary, controversial, pugnacious, quarrelsome and argumentative rather than agreeable and consensus-seeking, who throw temper tantrums when they do not get their own way, who hold grudges and find it difficult to forgive and forget, who are so opinionated that they find it a challenge to accept the suggestions of others and who seem to prefer conflict, trouble and strife to calm co-operation, disputes to compromise and disagreement to agreement, are we mistaking strength of will for strength of character?

Ultimately when we permit those who are innately more cruel than considerate to achieve their goal of reaching senior positions, are we succumbing to the misconception that somehow seems to assume or accept that ruthlessness is a valid managerial or even leadership trait?

Management and leadership are supposed to be constructive processes, yet we continue to choose fundamentally destructive people to manage and lead our organisations, mistaking conflict and exclusion to be an acceptable alternative to cooperation and inclusion, being bullied into misinterpreting aggression and intimidation as a satisfactory and even admirable alternative to praise and encouragement.

Some lack the tact to realise that most people better respond to humility than humiliation, because somehow they feel better when they make others feel worse.

Yet time and time again we appoint such spiteful, vindictive, unforgiving, merciless and malicious people to seniority of position, trusting them with important roles in society despite their deep and utter untrustworthiness, perhaps scared of their retribution if we don’t grant them the power they insatiably crave but ultimately can only abuse; power which their self-centred focus switches to maintaining at any cost, rather than using astutely and constructively for the purpose granted.

Those whose expertise includes denying the undeniable and defending the indefensible need to be denied the opportunity to create situations which they will later deny as either not having happened, defend as having been appropriate when actually deeply inappropriate or pass the buck as having been someone else’s fault.
Society most needs people capable of accepting responsibility for the faults of others as its leaders, not those who blame everyone but themselves for their many failings, like the emperor’s new clothes apparent to everyone but themselves.

Remedial action will inevitably be required arising from the destruction associated with “Disordered Leaders” before it is too late and the damage they inflict becomes irreparable, evidenced by the multitude of defunct corporations in global business graveyards, as well as other organisations and even nations which also no longer exist.

And yet for centuries we have chosen such people to lead our organisations and even nations.

Indeed more and more must wonder how such inappropriate people were allowed mis-lead in the first place when they make rational progress difficult, posing considerable challenges to those who have no option but to do what they cannot in trying to responsibly deal with their irresponsibility – adapt and amend their own behaviour.

Prevention is preferable to the improbability of cure.

This though is not a new abnormal, as throughout history from as early as this has been recorded, we seem to have let similarly “disordered” people mis-lead, with entirely inevitable combative, uncooperative, soul-destroying and destructive consequences, being troublemakers not peacemakers, starting then arrogantly justifying and perpetuating conflicts between colleagues, organisations and even nations, without a semblance of remorse or suspicion they may have learned from their mistakes, making this the most significant mistake which humanity seems doomed to repeat, time after time again.

The behaviour and indeed mindset of such “selfish, difficult and proud” people, especially when they prefer cold-hearted meanness and even cruelty over consideration for others and being disruptive to constructive, is totally and absolutely predictable, being “maladaptive”, with warning signs well displayed, which we do not seem to heed.

So when will we learn to instead choose the most responsible people for the most responsible roles, from business to politics, government, education, charities, sport and religion, indeed across global society in all its nations and branches, those with the talent and interest in others to drive the entity they are responsible for tactfully, constructively and sustainably forward, rise to not create challenges and by word and deed set an admirable example involving inclusion, encouragement and harmonious collaboration, not the most irresponsible who innately seem to prefer discouragement, dissonant disharmony and (most importantly to them) themselves and their insatiable personal goals to those they are supposed to be leading, guiding, cajoling and persuading, not intimidating, immune to their interests and needs, irrespective of the consequences?

Those only capable of loyalty to themselves lack the fundamental ability to inspire and lead others, unaware of personality deficiencies blatantly apparent to others, unable to set an admirable example for those they should be role models for, incapable of showing a genuine interest in them or even the organisation whose future they are entrusted with, yet risk, being so innately and incredibly consumed by their self-interest and having to personally prevail in every situation that nothing else seems to matter in their peculiar version of reality and truth.

They do excel at one aspect of  “management”. Although poor at managing their own emotions, especially when their self-interest is challenged, no matter how well they do “manage” to hide their true inner coldness and insensitivity behind a “mask of normality”, often composed of Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence, eventually others begin to realise that their talents can be wasted when all they are really interested in is – themselves.

When organisations, entities and even nations are managed and led by the wrong people with the least appropriate self-centred personality, irresponsible by nature and fundamentally incapable of being trusted with significant positions of responsibility, Disordered Leaders ultimately disappoint those who appointed them believing them to be capable of far better, before instead realising how difficult they are to remove when they transpire to be more capable at causing harm than doing good.

We need Constructive Leaders with the vision to realise how great the group they are responsible for could be, the insight to know how to get there, integrity to set the right tone at the top, moral compass to guide everyone in the right direction, creativity to explore new opportunities, interest in others to willingly provide support, perception to offer astute guidance, wisdom to know what to change and when, courage to tackle the issues others might ignore, tact to deal with matters diplomatically, modesty to deflect praise to others yet accept responsibility for their mistakeswith the enthusiastic personality which creates the positive culture and sets the admirable example which encourages and maybe even inspires everyone to want to follow their leader in top gear. There are many such people in many roles throughout global society, but we just don’t hear too much about them, certainly not from themselves.

What we do not need are Destructive Leaders, so short-sighted they can only see matters from their own perspective and so pre-occupied with finding every opportunity to personally prevail that they instead drive down cul-de-sacs which only they believe are the right direction, ignoring the advice of their management team who end up as mere passengers, then are too proud to engage the non-existent reverse gear, so crash and burn not only the entity they mis-lead but perhaps its reputation too. Fortunately there are far fewer such people in the world, but unfortunately far too many  in senior roles throughout global society, promoted beyond the capabilities of their personality (although a secret to them, if no-one else). But we hear far too much about them, especially from themselves, as they loudly promote their own abilities and demote, diminish and demolish the abilities and reputations of people far more talented than they, with many more credentials to provide the responsible leadership required, which becomes all the more apparent when mis-led by the arrogant and self-centred.

The Constructive Leaders they criticise and belittle have the last laugh when they overtake them and not only remain in the fast lane but construct new roads where no-one thought possible, possessing the imagination and enthusiasm to collaborate with all involved, building the required bridges to make the most appropriate progress, given that their mindset is innately win-win and they treat everyone else with the degree of respect which makes them feel appreciated, included and part of the team, no matter their role.

The divisively negative impact of Destructive Leaders who at their core are selfish, difficult, proud, hateful, mean-hearted, lacking in empathy and emotional depth, well capable of holding long-standing grudges (whether warranted or not), spreading malicious rumours designed to damage the reputation of those they see as opponents or rivals (even if not) or have merely disagreed with them publicly, adept at covering-up and passing the blame for their mistakes to others while failing to encourage those well worthy of praise and ignoring those they do not deem to be sufficiently important or influential; experts at disrespect, discouragement and disloyalty and thus damaging relationships and breeding distrust, may suggest that ruthlessness, meaning an inability to be sympathetic, kind and express remorse, perhaps with a tendency toward being intimidatory, needs to be further recognised not as a personal strength and managerial requirement, as some mistakenly perceive it to be, including by those Disordered Leaders who derive satisfaction practicing it or by those adversely influenced by the wrong role-models, rather should be increasingly associated with a self-centred weakness of character, a cold, calculating, impersonal, devious, destructive, manipulative and possibly disordered mindset, as well as an unnecessary and inappropriate implement in the toolkit of successful leaders, who are well capable of taking difficult decisions without being innately cruel or unsympathetic.

The contagiously positive impact of Constructive Leaders who in essence are generous of spirit, most certainly not mean-hearted, well capable of owning up to mistakes, forgiving those who may have wronged them and moving on from such experiences, experts at appreciating and acknowledging the value of other people by way of praise, encouragement, loyalty and showing an interest in them and hence building trustworthy relationships, may suggest that warm emotions including kindness, compassion and the ability to love and be loved, alongside empathy and interest, are most certainly not a weakness, but a strength required in leaders, needed to permit them to properly, purposefully and constructively evaluate options and make fair, just and balanced decisions, with integrity and the selfless courage to “do the right thing when no-one is looking”, modestly avoid self-publicity and short-term expediency or narrow-minded popularism in favour of the longer-term benefit of those they were chosen to lead, not prioritising themselves and their self-interest and approaching all matters from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?”

The world needs to decide which it needs.

People like feeling appreciated and valued, yet too many managers and leaders do not make others feel as important as they should.

Their extraordinary sense of invincibility and their delusional self-belief convinces them that they can do (and get away with) anything they want, even if fundamentally ill-equipped for many of the tasks they are mistakenly trusted with, including responsible, constructive and visionary management and leadership.

Talking the talk is no substitute for being capable of walking the walk.

The greatest talent of those with a disconnect between talk, deeds and reality can be an ability to frequently mask their total lack of consideration for the interests and needs of others and their necessity to dominate, control and damage them emotionally.

While we can see what they cannot, especially when they confuse fact with fiction, hold grudges and seek revenge, why are we so blinkered we allow them to mis-lead the organisations and even nations of our global society?

When they surprise us with their incompetence, inability to be loyal to anyone but themselves and transpire to be more self-centred than selfless and cruel than kind, we need never again be surprised.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Being sympathy-free (“ruth-less”), insensitive to the interests, needs and emotions of others, yet highly sensitive to any form of criticism or rebuke, producing a totally disproportionate response, feelings of hatred towards those who may have offered them tactful advice or constructive criticism, and the imperative of having to retaliate and extract revenge, even for trivia, are not qualities which endear leaders to those they lead, or indeed to anyone else.

Those who consistently engage in almost unforgivable words and deeds are the very same people who time after time expect to be forgiven for the anger and hatred they practice, preach and instil in others, yet are incapable of forgiving those they perceive to have wronged them, even when they didn’t.

No matter the walk of life, we expect the managers and leaders of our society, from business to government and sport, to bring people together by way of co-operation, collaboration and consensus-finding, praise and encouragement, not drag them apart with insulting and combative words and deeds, seek conflict at almost every opportunity, behave impulsively, impetuously and be moody rather than cool, calm and collected, as they innately prioritise their own self-interest and divide rather than unite the people they are supposed to be leading and setting an admirable example for, breeding hope not fear.

Those only capable of appreciating and valuing themselves do not have what it takes to successfully manage and lead other people.

Indeed there must be something wrong with those lacking a sense of wrong, especially when this only consists of believing they are always right and everyone else wrong.

Just because “Disordered Leaders” cannot seem to learn from their mistakes, doesn’t mean the rest of society shouldn’t from theirs, notably when deeply irresponsible and untrustworthy people are appointed to significant positions of responsibility, beyond the limitations of their personality.

Do we never seem to learn?

Maybe it is now opportune that, collectively and globally, society does, given the absolute predictability of the consequences when those with the wrong personality, when cruel the most inappropriate possible, are chosen for positions for which they are extraordinarily ill-equipped, which eventually becomes apparent to almost everyone else, except themselves, given that they believe there is nothing wrong with them.

As people with a Personality Disorder rarely see themselves as being different or as being the problem, as they blame all their faults and failings on anything and everyone else, this places the onus to be “responsible” and “constructive” on those who, out of necessity, spend an inordinate amount of their time dealing with the whims of their unbalanced and perhaps “Disordered Leader”.

Even if “those who abuse power, lose power”, this is usually far too late and at some considerable cost.

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

Even after their organisation has collapsed (perhaps with a track record of doing so than building ventures capable of long-term, sustainable success), with many people’s lives adversely affected, trust in tatters and reputation beyond repair, “Disordered Leaders” can still wonder what they did wrong.

The repercussions and reverberations for interpersonal and even international relationships in society may be serious. However the “world order” and even “world peace” may 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, difficult and proud” people and either not hiring, promoting or electing them to positions for which they are profoundly unsuitable.

While this may appear to be a difficult challenge in itself, they themselves inadvertently actually help others identify them.

No matter how hard they try to portray themselves as being “normal”, especially when they or their self-interest are challenged, they give themselves away by way of their very inability to change their own behaviour.

But a major challenge is that many people do not know what challenging behaviour to seek in trying to identify such people for what they may actually be – people with a disordered mind.

Their inability to see themselves and their real abilities for what they really are (more limited than they are capable of appreciating), combined with their inability to experience guilt for wrongdoing (as someone else is always to blame), nor experience the degree of fear and anxiety which permits most other people to know where to “draw the line” between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour or caution and gambling, means that instead of avoiding situations which may be harmful to other people or their organisation, entity or nation, they may actually derive pleasure from taking extreme risks, apparently oblivious to the potential downsides or adverse consequences for anything or anyone else, including, quite extraordinarily, themselves.

Yet every segment of global society appears to be well capable of making such irresponsible people “leaders”, falling for their better, more apparent, qualities, unaware (at first) that these may mask darker, more dangerous tendencies, more likely to cause harm than do good.

Most people throughout society feel good from making others feel great. What needs to be better and indeed more globally appreciated is that there may be something wrong with those who themselves feel great – when they make others feel bad.

Those being led know that those who are rude, crude, unkind and disloyal, insensitive to the needs of others, practice disrespect yet seek popularity, are not themselves respected and deeply unpopular.

Those being led know that humility beats humiliation, any day,

Too many  leaders evidently do not, prioritising making themselves feel good at the expense of making those they are supposed to be responsible for feeling bad, who are simply not their concern, ultimately only being interested in themselves.

Their self-interest does not just appear to be an option they persistently prioritise, rather it can seem to be their sole child-like state of mind, overriding all other considerations when the opportunity arises to “get their own way” and “win at all costs”, irrespective of the consequences for anyone or anything else, with their fixed focus fixated on “what’s in it for me?” and “we” or “us” not even on their personal radar.

Fortunately there is a consistency in their apparent inconsistency, so their bizarre behaviour and mindset may with greater familiarity be seen to be entirely predictable.

Given the harm, havoc, trouble and strife which fundamentally destructive people create and thrive on, indeed perhaps have done throughout human history, global society needs both to better appreciate how to identify essentially infantile people and prevent them from attaining positions of responsibility, while simultaneously recognising what positive and responsible traits to seek in appointing leaders.

As people better respond to praise, encouragement, inclusion and persuasion than criticism, discouragement, exclusion and aggression, what will it take for those with sufficient influence to appreciate that the selfless, positive, constructive, encouraging, just and modest “givers”, more interested in others than themselves, with a true moral-compass, can actually make far better leaders of people, organisations and nations than the self-centred, negative, unjust, critical, discouraging, discourteous and arrogant “takers”, more interested in themselves than others?

Being in essence a “viability liability”, unstable seekers of power, fame, persecution and sympathy, extraordinarily impulsive and deeply untruthful, highly combative troublemakers with huge and unwarranted self-belief, little real interest in anyone or anything else, quite irrational who live a different version of reality, indeed in their own special delusional world, thriving on dissent, disorder, disharmony and injustice, prioritising reward irrespective of the risks, they are more likely to bring failure than success yet remorselessly blame others when this transpires, self-interested to their core believing themselves to be the centre of their own universe, threaten the emotional welfare and sanity of coworkers, the future of their organisations and ultimately the moral fabric of society.

Incapable of learning from their mistakes, the rest of the world needs to by no longer trusting the most untrustworthy and irresponsible people in society with any positions of responsibility. Experts at deception, manipulation and intimidation, they bullying their way into positions beyond the capabilities of their personality needs to be resisted,  incapable of responsibly and harmoniously running a street stall let alone an entrepreneurial venture, multinational, public body, religious order, charity, restaurant, sports club and most certainly not financial institutions or (perish the thought) nations.

“Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership” inhabit a different world from the rest of “us”. But unless “we” begin to understand what “their world” is, we cannot prevent them from causing havoc to the world that the rest of us inhabit.

While the charm and smart words which temporarily “mask” the true, darker, tendencies of those who transpire to be more self-centred than selfless may be obvious, at least for a while, the key quality of  integrity may be less apparent, especially as those who epitomise it frequently seek no acclaim for themselves, pass the credit for achievements to others yet accept responsibility for their failings, fully appreciating that “there is no right way to do a wrong thing.”

Those for whom “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs” is their primary motivation, no matter the arena, may lack the emotional depth to appreciate what the real cost may transpire to be, oblivious to the real consequences which inevitably arise from such a self-centred “what’s in it for me?” mindset, inappropriate for organisational and societal leadership.

Society needs decisive leaders who see inclusive debate and discussion as a constructive opportunity to maximise collective progress, not “my way only”.

Society needs responsible leaders who understand their words and deeds can significantly influence others, so are careful to ensure what they say and do will encourage harmonious cooperation and never breed trouble, strife and dissent, especially between different groups of people.

Society needs collaborative leaders who appreciate that their responsibility is to unite rather than divide the people they are responsible for, including those who have never cooperated before.

Society needs leaders with the emotional depth required to warmly experience other people in all their humanity, as unique people with their own needs and interests, not coldly as inanimate objects to be vindictively used, deceived and manipulated.

Society needs leaders with the integrity to set the admirable example which encourages everyone else to want to follow.

Society needs visionary leaders with the ability to envision how great the group they are responsible for could be.

Society needs positive leaders with the enthusiastic personality which creates the constructive culture (not ultra-competitive combat zones) which  inspires others to contribute their personal best en route to collectively driving the entity along the road of progress from good to great.

Society needs optimistic leaders capable of making opportunities from their difficulties, rather than pessimistic leaders who specialise in making difficulties from their opportunities.

Society needs leaders with imagination, as it is those who imagine that make the unimaginable happen.

Society needs humble leaders capable of accepting criticism constructively and learning from it, not too-proud leaders who cannot cope and feel the necessity to respond destructively wanting to damage their critics.

Society needs peacemaking leaders capable of diminishing not encouraging hatred and making friends out of former enemies, not enemies out of friends.

Society needs courageous leaders who know that “doing the wrong thing when everyone is looking” could never be described as leadership, let alone leadership with integrity.

The wonderful world we share no longer needs irresponsible, self-centred and “Destructive Leaders” who struggle to be agreeable and encouraging, thrive on disagreement and dissent, even subtle or more overt havoc and turmoil, believing they are superior and failing to realise that disharmony in its many guises, especially intimidation and fear, can not only be extraordinarily counterproductive but deeply divisive and destructive.

What a mistake a group and even nation makes when it appoints people with such a “Personality Disorder” to any senior role as the outcome is entirely inevitable, except much of society appears not to understand what behavioural traits “give the game away” to identify what may be the true, cold, impersonal and self-centred personality behind the charm and eloquence.

In continuing to choose such incredibly irresponsible people for positions of responsibility, everyone else in authority needs to better appreciate that such a scenario is not only quite the opposite of the behaviour expected of leaders, but also contrary to the fundamental purpose of forming an organisation or indeed any group of people coming together, to cooperate towards achieving some common purpose, prioritising the benefit of those it was established to serve, not the single-minded ambitions and self-interest of its “Disordered Leaders”, before it is too late and the damage they invariably do becomes irreparable.

Extraordinarily, as the arrogant are often promoted over the modest, the many successes of lower profile leaders, collaborative, tolerant, kind and altruistic peacemakers more proud of the achievements of their people and the progress of their organisation than their own vanity, who seek little publicity for themselves, thoughtful not impulsive, experts at praise and encouragement who avoid humiliation and discouragement, need no longer be one of the world’s best kept secrets as they bring integrity, inspiration, vision, wisdom, cooperation and safety, not to be taken for granted, as they make sensible, just, rational and considerate decisions which balance risk and reward.

Another best kept secret which needs to be revealed and better understood internationally is the peculiar, hidden and abnormal world of Personality Disorders, confirmed by the numbers of covert, intolerant, self-centred “Disordered Leaders” evident throughout global society, most certainly not the new abnormal as people with this personality type would seem to have caused havoc down the centuries.

Perhaps Plato was right to suggest that those who do not desire power may be more fit to hold it, capable of being trusted to use it constructively for the purposes intended. Calmness can be contagious.

Talking the talk is no substitute for actually being capable of walking the walk. Those “charming liars” who suffer a deep disconnect between their talk, deeds and reality, confuse fact and fiction, struggle to differentiate between right and wrong, seem more interested in themselves than others, thrive on humiliation and see humility as weakness and ruthlessness as strength, should no longer be seen as strong and effective leaders, rather weak, childlike and ineffective.

When the need and priority is restoring then maintaining trust rather than significantly damaging and eroding reputation, organisational and national, which Socrates likened to a fire – being easy to keep lit but difficult to relight when foolishly permitted to be extinguished – fundamentally responsible and tactful trust-builders rather than irresponsible and tactless trust-busters, who specialise in lighting, stoking and perpetuating fires of dissent, are even more required as supervisors, managers and leaders at every level of every type of global entity if sensible and co-operative progress is to be an achievable goal, uniting people, bodies and nations by way of “win-win” collaboration and compromise rather than dividing them, when conflict is the covert priority.

My fellow Dubliner Oscar Wilde could have been referring to destructively “Disordered Leaders” who, being “takers” more interested in themselves than others, with self-centred minds that can be empathy, remorse, conscience, fear, love, sympathy and truth free zones, incapable of genuine praise, accepting responsibility, changing, apologising, learning from their many mistakes which they repeat, nor properly understanding other people, who they experience as objects, nor being kind to them, being at their happiest making others miserable and thriving on cold-hearted meanness, depravity, blame, discouragement, dissent, disloyalty, grudges and hatred, yet “poor-me” seekers of pity, despite feeling superior and invincible can see persecution and threats where there are none, delusional liars expert at deceit, manipulation and criticism yet cannot cope with rebuke directed at them, innate troublemakers who thrive on disharmony, irresponsibly creating unnecessary challenges while making dramas out of crises and difficulties out of their opportunities, consummate actors capable of hiding their true traits much of the time by way of their ICE characteristics of Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence, until their self-interest is challenged, yet see nothing wrong with themselves and blame anything and everyone else for their failings, as well as their polar opposite, the genuinely charismatic, considerate, decent and fair “Constructive Leaders” who, being “givers” more interested in others than themselves, generous of spirit, peacemakers who build rather then damage relationships, lead with integrity, responsibly rise to and harmoniously resolve challenges and make opportunities from their difficulties, fortunately the vast majority of global society, when he quipped that:

“Some cause pleasure wherever they go, others whenever they go”.

When “leaders” feel better from making others feel worse, there is clearly something wrong and questions need to be asked why they were chosen to lead in the first place.

Those who appoint fundamentally irresponsible people to positions of responsibility in due course may regret giving their trust to those who do not experience regret.

Those without a sense of wrong must have something wrong with them.

Society will always need trustworthy leaders, especially those who find it easy to love and difficult to hate, never those for whom hatred and grudges come easily, yet find it impossible to forgive or love – anyone but themselves.

Despite most people far better responding to encouragement than discouragement, too many still believe the arrogance some in authority display and intimidation they practice to be indicative of some form of strength of either character or leadership, rather than a deep personality flaw.

Those for whom other people and doing things for them are not on their personal radar, cannot be trusted with guiding the ships they captain through calm waters en route to the destination which achieves the wider goals of the group, rather than impulsively making diversions on a whim through more turbulent seas to primarily satisfy their self-interest, even if this risks the safety of the crew and ship itself; neither of which are fundamentally their priority let alone concern, no matter how well they succeed in disguising this, fooling some of the people for some of the time until their true motivations become more readily apparent, by which time it may well be too late, with the ship having been steered onto the rocks, with everyone else to blame except the disordered captain who, despite being the primary culprit, may still not quite realise what he or she did wrong.

When “win-lose” as a goal is associated with strength and compromise as a sign of weakness, too few actually win. Leaders whose goal is for all parties to believe that they have won are more likely to be respected and admired. As a father attending a sports match with his young son was once innocently asked: “isn’t a draw when both teams win?”

No matter what their other talents may be, including intelligence and eloquence, an inability to show any genuine interest in other people is not indicative of a naturally endowed ability to influence and motivate a group of people towards achieving a common goal, or what is commonly referred to as “leadership”.

When people feel their ideas and opinions will not receive an appreciative and supportive welcome and will not result in a discussion towards some form of successful outcome, perhaps involving compromises and changes in direction, why bother having a “management team” at all?

If people are “on edge” and too nervous to speak what may be crossing their mind, this is the fault of those who are supposed to be managing them to “contribute the most|” and “produce their best”, which seldom happens when the culture is based on fear and blame.

In contrast, when the culture is open and inclusive, warm and welcoming, even dare I suggest fun, including “playfulness”, people do feel inspired to contribute their best and to encourage their colleagues to do the same.

Which type of organisation is most likely to make more rapid progress, especially when facing challenging times, the entity more typified by fun or fear?

An apt reference to “Brexit” was published the day after the British voted to leave the European Union, an institution which although not perfect had brought peaceful co-operation and collaboration, based on negotiation, harmony and compromise not conflict, between nations who had previously fought two World Wars against each other:

“Pride and Prejudice prevailed over Sense and Sensibility”.

Perhaps these titles of Jane Austen novels published two centuries earlier could also describe the choice decision-makers face when having to decide between Destructive and Constructive Leaders, especially when in the context of the novel “Sense” means good judgement, wisdom or prudence and “Sensibility” means sensitivity, sympathy or emotionality.”

As far as “Constructive Leadership” is concerned, all the intelligence in the world is of little or no value, if none of it is emotional.

RECAP

Those with “a chronic, inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking and behaving that seriously impairs an individual’s ability to function in social or other settings” (one definition of a Personality Disorder), should be disqualified from becoming leaders of other people and societal organisations.

In continuing to choose such incredibly irresponsible people for positions of responsibility, everyone else in authority needs to better appreciate such a scenario is not only quite the opposite of the behaviour expected of leaders, but also contrary to the fundamental purpose of forming an organisation or any group of people coming together, from business to government, to cooperate towards achieving some common purpose, prioritising the benefit of those it was established to serve, not the single-minded ambitions and self-interest of its Disordered Leaders, before it is too late and the damage they invariably do becomes irreparable.

For many years I, for one, along I am sure with many others, did not associate such behaviour with what psychiatrists snd psychologists refer to as “distorted thinking” or “distorted thinking patterns”, one of the four major indications of what they describe as a “personality disorder”.

NOW though much of the peculiar and indeed challenging behavior I witnessed throughout much of my career at last begins to makes sense, notably how similar was the behaviour of quite different people in quite diverse organisations.

Such scenarios, in all the variety of ways they may be experienced by others, not only also makes such SDP (“selfish, difficult and proud”) people ultimately easier to identify, but also entirely inappropriate for positions of responsibility for other people, let alone business or organisational management or leadership.

Which is why amongst the conclusions I have reached from a multitude of experiences with both highly challenging as well as many more truly exceptional people, including leaders, are:

  1. 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”.

2. Indeed the four core features common to all Personality Disorders, with two required for diagnosis, are

  • Distorted thinking patterns,
  • Problematic emotional responses,
  • Over- or under-regulated impulse control and
  • Interpersonal difficulties,

none of which are attributes which society needs in those with responsibility for its institutions and their people.

3. Yet far too frequently some or all of these are evident in the behaviour of leaders, erroneously associated with strength of character and leadership, rather than weakness of personality and an inability to manage their own emotions, let alone lead other people.

4. One of the definitions of a “Personality Disorder” is pervasive patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and the self that interfere with long-term functioning of the individual and are not limited to isolated episodes.”

5. Some can feel invincible described as “a belief in one’s uniqueness and invulnerability” and absolutely convinced about their superiority, whether with any foundation or not.

6. “Self-centred” has been defined by Merriem-Webster as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests” and “independent of outside force or influence”.

7. “Narcissistic Personality” is described as “a pattern of traits and behaviours characterised by excessive self-concern and overvaluation of the self” with many of the associated traits not that different from those displayed by the most spoiled children and their mindset and ability (or inability) to engage in “moral reasoning” likened to that of primary school children.

8. While they can be capable of differentiating right from wrong in a hypothetical sense when they are personally uninvolved, this capability seems to be disengaged when their self-interest becomes involved or is threatened, as being impulsive, uncooperative and perverse, doing the opposite of what others want and having to get their own way irrespective of the consequences then take over, all characteristics more associated with children than leaders of business and society.

9.””With prejudice” well describes those who hold deep and long-lasting grudges and seek revenge and retaliation, even for trivial reasons such as others merely offering a different opinion from theirs, as they can derive more pleasure from disrespecting than respecting others, especially those who dare to criticise them. Those who are always right and never wrong, blame others for their mistakes, cannot forgive and hold deep grudges, who cannot accept responsibility for their own failings and those they lead, do not have what it takes to hold positions of responsibility or be leaders of business or society.

10. Those who feel supremely self-confident but cannot experience the feelings of others, do not have what it takes to inspire and motivate others to produce their best.

11. A self-centred person may not see themselves as being selfish, even when this is very apparent to everybody else. Those more likely to be mean than meaningful, prefer harm and humiliation to humility, cold calculation to compassion and themselves to other people, no matter how well they manage to mask these tendencies, do not have what it takes to be other than a one-person band, lacking the subtlety and tact associated with guiding a jazz or Irish ceili band in the right direction, or the respect and other qualities required to successfully lead an organisation in the style of an orchestra, with every musician sharing the same sheet-music and playing the same tune, with the goal of achieving organisational goals rather than satisfying the self-interest and varying whims of the disordered leader, whose greatest talent may be blowing their own trump-et.

12. Challenges and crises bring out the best in the best and the worst in the worst. Society needs to be led by those who want to know about mistakes made by those they lead, with the ability to learn from these and their own mistakes and not repeat them. Society does not need to be led by those who do not want to know about mistakes made by those they lead, given the degree of intimidation and blame they practice is so deep that known errors are covered up and people tend to remain quiet about mistakes so the entity doesn’t learn how to prevent them recurring.

13. A group intimidated into only doing what the dominant leader wants is unlikely to evolve. People should be able to approach their leaders without fear of repercussion nor having to “walk on eggshells”. Those incapable of adequately managing their own emotions cannot be trusted with responsibility for the lives and emotions of others.

14. When those unable to control their own emotions are accompanied by a necessity to “control” other people and situations, especially when their need to control becomes uncontrollable, they cannot be trusted to be in charge or control of other people at all, in any shape or form.

15. Being insensitive to the the interests, needs and emotions of other people, yet highly sensitive to any form of criticism or rebuke, producing a disproportionate response, feelings of hatred and the imperative of having to retaliate and extract revenge are not qualities which endear leaders to those they lead.

16. Those with “a chronic, inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking and behaving that seriously impairs an individual’s ability to function in social or other settings” should be disqualified from becoming leaders of other people and societal organisations.

17. Recognising relevant behavioural traits could assist diminish the negative impact such challenging people can have on the lives of others, within and outside global organisations, especially when they innately prefer competition and conflict to teamwork and co-operation and turning people against each other rather then building harmonious collaboration.

18. Despite the problems such people create throughout society, from impaired relationships and damaged reputations to business failures, chaos and even wars, and perhaps have done so throughout history being troublemakers not peacemakers, the concept of personality disorders needs to become more widely appreciated to better understand “difficult” people and their initially bizarre, but in due course entirely predictable behaviour, to sufficiently realise that their motivations differ from those of most “normal” people.

19. The innate priority of such disordered people in the organisational context can be simply described as “getting their own way, irrespective of the cost to other people or their organisation”. To them, lacking concern for anything, but themselves, such matters are inconsequential and mere collateral damage en route to satisfying their insatiable personal goals.

20. Appreciating that their mind may in fact be disordered could be an important first step on the road to progress which otherwise may be a frustratingly fruitless exercise. Any attempts at trying to deal with them “normally” may well be doomed to failure.

21. One of the key first steps is to identify these abnormal people, by way of their own behaviour, as being different from the norm, then adapting to respond to their sometimes extraordinary actions and reactions, given their inflexibility and probable inability to alter these themselves, hence learning how to behave differently towards them (entitled “denying narcissistic supply”), with a view to minimising the damage and perhaps havoc they will inevitably create, especially when they lead our organisations and even nations.

22. Those who gradually get to know and begin to understand, as best they can, narcissistic people and what seems to motivate them, will realise that any interest they may show in others is likely to be pure pretense. Putting others first does just not appear to be part of their psyche.

23. When we fall for their ICE tendencies – Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence – we fail to appreciate that “talking the talk” is no substitute for actually being capable of “walking the walk”. Indeed in their case there may be a deep disconnect between their talk, deeds and reality.

24. Yet we continue to elect highly challenging people to senior roles due to a leadership fallacy which mistakes “SDP” or “Selfish, Difficult and Proud” (or Perverse) traits, “RUTHLESS” or “Revengeful, Unforgiving, Threatening, Hostile, Lamentable, Empathy-free, Sad and Spiteful” behaviour and “CHARM” or “Confident, Hateful, Arrogant, Remorseless and Manipulative” attributes, with other coldly unforgiving, vindictive, malevolent and self-centred traits for “Leadership Ability”, rather than evidence of a deeply troubled and disordered personality.

25. Despite most people far better responding to encouragement than discouragement, extraordinarily some believe the intimidation they practice is indicative of some form of strength of either character or leadership, rather than a deep character flaw.

26. Until intimidatory traits, erroneously believed to be necessary rather than inappropriate implements in the toolkit of respected leaders, become associated with disordered management, this misconception, which may have blighted society for generations, will be perpetuated to the detriment of interpersonal trust and the reputation of the entities who appointed them before they may subsequently be given sufficient reason to doubt their own sanity for doing so.

27. How can so many organisations, entities and even nations, perhaps throughout human history, continue to make the mistake of choosing such people for roles which involve responsibility for the lives and emotions of other people when they cannot even control their own emotions?

28. As they are “found in every race, culture, society and walk of life”, one of the most critical matters to appreciate is that as disordered people see things differently, experience people differently, perceive many matters differently, think differently, inhabit a quite different world and behave differently from most others in society, it is imperative that they be recognised by others as being different from the norm and hence dealt with significantly differently.

29. Those who are deeply self-centred, cunning, manipulative, deceitful, impulsive, untruthful and expert liars, with their “shallow emotions” including little or no empathy, who cannot take one iota of criticism yet thrive on criticising and blaming others and are constantly in need of praise yet struggle to genuinely praise and encourage others, especially when most warranted, who are well capable of cold cruelty and remorseless rumours, including verbal disparagement of others, sometimes known as “character assassination” or a “distortion campaign”, which may involve partial or total distortion of reality or “the truth”, possibly arising from a “delusional” mindset, who perceive other people and indeed the entire world quite differently from most others in society, prioritising themselves, their “self-interest” and remorseless ambition and necessity to “get their own way” and “win at all costs”, may even threaten the long-term viability of the organisation itself. Indeed when such fundamentally irresponsible people are employed in senior and highly responsible roles within organisations they should be seen as a “viability liability”.

30. Unless these and many other related matters are more fully appreciated and understood, the problems and challenges which disordered people innately and perhaps uniquely create are likely to persist, to the detriment of other people, organisational life and ultimately the well-being of global society.

31. When organisations, entities and even nations are managed and led by the wrong people with the least appropriate self-centred personality, irresponsible by nature and fundamentally incapable of being trusted with significant positions of responsibility, Disordered Leaders ultimately disappoint those who appointed them believing them to be capable of far better, before instead realising how difficult they are to remove when they transpire to be more capable at causing harm than doing good.

32. Those for whom other people and doing things for them are not on their personal radar, cannot be trusted with guiding the ships they captain through calm waters en route to the destination which achieves the wider goals of the group, rather than impulsively making diversions on a whim through more turbulent seas to primarily satisfy their self-interest, even if this risks the safety of the crew and ship itself; neither of which are fundamentally their priority let alone concern, no matter how well they succeed in disguising this, fooling some of the people for some of the time until their true motivations become more readily apparent, by which time it may well be too late, with the ship having been steered onto the rocks, with everyone else to blame except the disordered captain who, despite being the primary culprit, may still not quite realise what he or she did wrong.

33. What we do not need are Destructive Leaders, so short-sighted they can only see matters from their own perspective and so pre-occupied with finding every opportunity to personally prevail that they instead drive down cul-de-sacs which only they believe are the right direction, ignoring their management team who end up as mere passengers, then are too proud to engage the non-existent reverse gear, so crash and burn not only the entity they mis-lead but perhaps its reputation too. Fortunately there are far fewer such people in the world, but unfortunately far too many  in senior roles throughout global society, promoted beyond the capabilities of their personality (although a secret to them, if no-one else). But we hear far too much about them, especially from themselves, as they loudly promote their own abilities and demote, diminish and demolish the abilities and reputations of people far more talented than they, with many more credentials to provide the responsible leadership required, which becomes all the more apparent when mis-led by the arrogant and self-centred.

34. While many people in society feel good from making others feel good, what needs to be better and indeed more globally appreciated is that there may be something wrong with those who themselves feel good when they make others feel bad. When “leaders” feel better from making others feel worse, there is clearly something wrong and questions need to be asked why they were chosen to lead in the first place.

35. Charm, especially when seen to be shallow or insincere, should never be mistaken for, or preferred to, good character and the courage to do the right thing even when no-one is looking, nor eloquent talk or false promises for real evidence of integrity. My astute fellow Dubliner, Oscar Wilde, could have been referring to Constructive and Destructively Disordered Leaders when he quipped that “some cause pleasure wherever they go, others whenever they go”.

36. Despite most people far better responding to encouragement than discouragement, too many still believe the arrogance some in authority display and intimidation they practice to be indicative of some form of strength of either character or leadership, rather than a deep personality flaw. Intimidation achieves nothing positive and only satisfies  the intimidator.

37. No matter what their other talents may be, including intelligence and eloquence, an inability to show any genuine interest in other people is not indicative of a naturally endowed ability to influence and motivate a group of people towards achieving a common goal, or what is commonly referred to as “leadership”.

38. 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, the opposite of what is expected of leaders, rather than engender teamwork and co-operation, the essence of leadership.

39. Do we never seem to learn? Prevention is infinitely better than the improbability of cure.

40. The most astute, “Constructive Leaders”, treat everyone the same, with esteem, irrespective of position, title, gender or race and view them as their equals not subordinates, requiring a touch of humility rather than a dose of pride and a more selfless nature which leads to treating everyone the way they would like to be treated themselves, resulting in mutual respect, reciprocity and an enthusiastic following from those they lead.

41. Society needs “Constructive Leaders” who prefer co-operation and collaboration to conflict, dissent and turmoil, harmony to disharmony and win-win to win-lose, ultimately preferring to peacefully resolve differences without resorting to conflict between people, within and between organisations and even war between nations when their leaders have the cold, combative, “must-win” personality and superiority disorder which results in them innately diminishing and disparaging other people and which prioritises themselves and their needs over those of the more peace-loving people they mis-lead.

42. Society needs to learn how to identify “Destructive” troublemakers and never, ever give up in their attempts to diminish the real damage they can do to the fabric of group life, whatever the grouping in society may be.

43. Society needs those capable of recognising wrong, including their own faults which they seek to learn from and rectify, who accept responsibility for the errors of those they lead, rather than those who see no wrong in words and actions which others would, do not learn from their mistakes and blame everyone else for their own failings.

44. Society needs those capable of hiring people more talented then themselves, rather than only those unlikely to show up their deficiencies.

45. Society needs those capable of firing those who do wrong, not those who try their best to put the organisation first or speak up against wrongdoing.

46. Society needs decisive leaders who see inclusive debate and discussion as a constructive opportunity to maximise collective progress, not “my way only”.

47. Society needs leaders who understand their words and deeds can significantly influence others so are careful to ensure what they say and do will encourage peaceful cooperation and never breed trouble, strife and dissent, especially between different groups of people.

48. Society needs leaders who appreciate that their responsibility is to unite rather than divide the people they are responsible for, including those who have never cooperated before.

49. Society needs leaders capable of diminishing not encouraging hatred and making friends out of former enemies, not enemies out of friends.

50. Society needs leaders who are peacemakers not troublemakers, encouraging by their words and deeds kindness in lieu of hatred, forgiveness instead of holding grudges, belief in goodness where there is badness, bringing hope where there is doubt and despair, lighting up people’s lives with their positivity and joy not spreading doom, gloom, sadness, despair and darkness, appreciating that it is by showing an interest in others and trying to understand them that people respond positively, rather than being exclusively interested in themselves.

51. Society needs leaders capable of considering the consequences of their words and actions, with the self-restraint to know when saying nothing may be more tactful and responsible, especially when they have nothing positive to say.

52. Society needs leaders with the self-control which prevents them from acting impulsively and irresponsibly, inconsiderate of any adverse consequences for others, including themselves.

53. Society needs balanced leaders capable of balancing the interests and needs of various groups they are responsible for, not consistently favouring some groups over others and even spreading dissent between them.

54. Society needs to learn the many lessons from the past that “Givers”, being more interested in others than themselves, make for far better leaders, especially of other people, than those “Takers” who are fundamentally more interested in themselves than others.

55. Society needs those who appreciate that the richness of their leadership is derived from treating everyone the same, with equal respect not prejudice, while prioritising the most needy, disadvantaged and ignored over the already wealthy, including inspiring those who have never worked to experience the many joys of the workplace.

56. Society needs leaders capable of persuading those considering leaving education too early to appreciate the longer term benefits of learning, while creating the opportunities for them to do so.

57. Society needs leaders sensitive to the needs of all, capable of favouring the most kind and sensitive over the most cruel and insensitive.

58. Society needs leaders who derive their primary satisfaction from making the people they lead feel better, never worse.

59. Society needs leaders capable of suffering criticism silently, perhaps accepting and learning from it, responding constructively not in a manner which causes others to suffer.

60. Society needs positive leaders capable of making opportunities from their difficulties rather than negative leaders who specialise in making difficulties from their opportunities.

61. Society needs to better appreciate how to identify the kind of people incapable of genuine kindness, if it is not to suffer from their fundamental lack of humanity.

62. Society needs leaders who appreciate that their primary responsibility is to act responsibly, preferring humility to pride.

63. People expect their leaders to be encouraging, show an interest in them, inspire them by words and good example to produce their best, never be discouraging and seem to want to bring out the worst in them, by words and bad example inspire hatred, seek revenge and actively encourage those they lead to be uncooperative with colleagues and peers, situations which (incredibly) happen and can even be prevalent in far too many organisations.

64. Of course this is totally, utterly and absolutely contrary to their being established to co-operate towards some common purpose and more likely to result in failure and perhaps bankruptcy, rather than sensible progress and successful growth.

65. Yet this is the unnecessarily and indeed predictably sad story which could be told by far too many unenthused employees in far too many global organisations, especially those forced to seek employment elsewhere by the “Managerial Myopia” and “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures” engendered by Disordered Leaders who covertly thrive on deceit, disagreement, dissent, distrust, disloyalty, disturbance, dissension and many other forms of dissonant disharmony and disorder, which should disqualify them from being considered for senior roles throughout society, but extraordinarily doesn’t.

66. Such situations can be entirely preventable, if only the sensible, rational and constructive people, with all the right credentials themselves, knew what traits to look for in advance of making the greatest mistake of their organisational lives by appointing those fundamentally incapable of prioritising the interests of anyone but themselves to senior roles for which they will transpire to be totally ill-equipped, before responding to their many failures by criticising, intimidating and blaming others.

67. Those who appoint fundamentally irresponsible people to positions of responsibility in due course may regret giving their trust to those who do not experience regret. Those without a sense of wrong must have something wrong with them.

68. Global society needs leaders who find it easy to love and impossible to hate, rather than those who find it easy to feel and spread hatred and impossible to love  – anyone but themselves.

69. Society needs to be led by those who prefer co-operation and collaboration to conflict and turmoil, harmony to disharmony and win-win to win-lose.

70. The divisively negative impact of Destructive Leaders who at their core are selfish, difficult, proud, hateful, mean-hearted, lacking in empathy and emotional depth, well capable of holding long-standing grudges (whether warranted or not), spreading malicious rumours designed to damage the reputation of those they see as opponents or rivals (even if not) or have merely disagreed with them publicly, adept at covering-up and passing the blame for their mistakes to others while failing to encourage those well worthy of praise and ignoring those they do not deem to be sufficiently important or influential; experts at disrespect, discouragement and disloyalty and thus damaging relationships and breeding distrust, may suggest that ruthlessness, meaning an inability to be sympathetic, kind and express remorse, perhaps with a tendency toward being intimidatory, needs to be further recognised not as a personal strength and managerial requirement, as some mistakenly perceive it to be, including by those Disordered Leaders who derive satisfaction practicing it or by those adversely influenced by the wrong role-models, rather should be increasingly associated with a self-centred weakness of character, a cold, calculating, impersonal, devious, destructive, manipulative and possibly disordered mindset, as well as an unnecessary and inappropriate implement in the toolkit of successful leaders, who are well capable of taking difficult decisions without being innately cruel or unsympathetic.

71. The contagiously positive impact of Constructive Leaders who in essence are generous of spirit, most certainly not mean-hearted, well capable of owning up to mistakes, forgiving those who may have wronged them and moving on from such experiences, experts at appreciating and acknowledging the value of other people by way of praise, encouragement, loyalty and showing an interest in them and hence building trustworthy relationships, may suggest that warm emotions including kindness, compassion and the ability to love and be loved, alongside empathy and interest, are most certainly not a weakness, but a strength required in leaders, needed to permit them to properly, purposefully and constructively evaluate options and make fair, just and balanced decisions, with integrity and the selfless courage to “do the right thing when no-one is looking”, modestly avoid self-publicity and short-term expediency or narrow-minded popularism in favour of the longer-term benefit of those they were chosen to lead, not prioritising themselves and their self-interest and approaching all matters from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?” 

72. The world needs to decide which it needs.

73. We need Constructive Leaders with the vision to realise how great the group they are responsible for could be, the insight to know how to get there, integrity to set the right tone at the top, moral compass to guide everyone in the right direction, creativity to explore new opportunities, interest in others to willingly provide support, perception to offer astute guidance, wisdom to know what to change and when, courage to tackle the issues others might ignore, tact to deal with matters diplomatically, modesty to deflect praise to others yet accept responsibility for their mistakeswith the enthusiastic personality which creates the positive culture and sets the admirable example which encourages and maybe even inspires everyone to want to enthusiastically follow their leader. There are many such people in a multitude of roles throughout global society, but we don’t hear too much about them, certainly not from themselves.

74. “Givers”, being more interested in others than themselves, make for better leaders, especially of other people, than those “Takers” who are fundamentally more interested in themselves than others;

75. As far as “Constructive Leadership” is concerned, all the intelligence in the world is of little or no value, if none of it is emotional.

Thomas Carlyle, known for his “Great Man Theory” (discussed in the next article under “Topics”) suggested that only those men with some form of heroic potential could become leaders. This was very much in line with the historical thinking of the writers from Rome, Greece, China and Egypt, all of whom admired the special and perhaps divine qualities associated with leaders who seemed to be able to naturally inspire their followers to great successes, predominantly military.

However there does seem to be a Personality Type which prefers disharmony to harmony and conflict to cooperation and it could be that global society has suffered down the centuries from too many “Disordered Leaders” being either chosen or taking control the power they crave but ultimately are ill-equipped to use constructively, with quite inevitable and predictable consequences arising from their “Destructive Leadership”.

Given that their mindset is fundamentally one which thrives on disagreement and conflict which they prefer to harmonious cooperation and prioritises themselves and their gargantuan need for their self-interest to be satisfied without consideration for any adverse consequences for others, including those they are tasked with leading, is it any surprise that the next article under “Topics” asks “why does so much of human history appear to be about conflict and wars?”

Experienced managers and leaders know well how difficult “change” is to introduce and appreciate the importance of inspiring people, frequently availing  of the two most important qualities any good employee can also possess – their imagination and enthusiasm – which allows them to share their vision about how great the future organisation could be, allied to their enthusiasm or passion to explain this so well that everyone, whether with a traditional or more progressive mindset, all of whom contribute to the success of their entity as it evolves, becomes excited at joining their crusade for positive and constructive organisational or even national change.

My own experiences with many wonderful as well as some truly awful (usually arrogant) executives would suggest that the Great Leader is one who learned to treat everyone quite the same, who appreciated the many benefits which arose from doing so, who inspired their entire management team to treat everyone at every level, in every role, the way they would like to be treated themselves – with respect and never, ever disrespect – as they tasked their managers with having to daily consider:

“what it is that motivates anyone to want to perform near their best and contribute whatever they can towards the success of the group, always based on encouragement and inclusion and never, ever discouragement, exclusion and fear”?

Other than making the “Disordered Leader” feel good from making the follower feel bad, a far too prevalent experience throughout global society, what does “Destructive Leadership” involving intimidation, discouragement, exclusion and fear actually achieve?

Especially when “Destructive Leadership” results not only in demotivated and maybe even disillusioned followers but also (incredibly, meaning hard to believe) colleagues competing rather than cooperating with each other, precisely the opposite of both (a) the very reason groups are formed to achieve common goals in the first place (b) that expected from leaders of any grouping in society, to provide “Constructive Leadership”, by way of praise, encouragement, inclusion, vision and courage to positively influence, motivate, inspire and maximise the efforts and commitment of other people towards the achievement of a goal which they share and derive pleasure and a sense of satisfaction during the process?

Of course “common goals” are more likely to be constructively and positively achieved if the conscientious and responsible leaders are “givers” more interested in others than themselves, than irresponsible  “takers” more interested in themselves than others, with little real interest in their followers who they disrespect and demotivate, nor even the organisation or even nation which mistakenly chose them for a leadership role they were utterly and fundamentally ill-equipped personally to perform, a fact that they may be the last to realise as in seeking to keep the power they can only abuse insist on continuing to ridicule and intimidate those they most need to be working constructively and cooperatively, highly unlikely when their emotional impoverishment means they secretly dislike compromise, see persecution when there is none, thrive on fear, instability, disagreement, disorder, disharmony and havoc, and in every instance have to “get their own way” and “win at all costs” while they evaluate all matters based  on their overriding mental prerogative of “what’s in it for me”?

Of course fundamentally good people are well capable of making mistakes and doing something wrong, especially under some form of pressure. However many unfair, unjust, unethical, damaging and indeed destructive acts throughout society 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 being consummate actors have developed a well-practiced expertise at portraying themselves as being good people, while simultaneously giving a decent impression of actually being interested in other people.

Most of the time.

Until someone crosses their path and challenges them or their extraordinary self-interest, 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 and other previously concealed traits and clandestine attributes are no longer obscured by the falseness of their charming but fake veneer and disguised by the “mask of normality” they wear much of the time – when those unfamiliar with who they really are can come in for a very great shock and those who chose, promoted or elected them regret doing so and appreciate what a great mistake they have made.

While this may initially seem to be “out of character”, the more that other reliable, dependable, responsible, trustworthy, sane, rational, kind and benign people witness and experience this colder, darker, more cruel, ruthless and malign side to their personality, they more they realize that this is very much their true character and can wonder how people of such nature could ever have been trusted with positions of responsibility and power, when all they really care about is themselves and they are actually fundamentally unreliable, undependable, irresponsible and deeply untrustworthy.

How could this have happened?

At the end of the day the organisations, entities and governments of global society need leaders who innately prefer being disceptive to deceptive, constructive to disruptive and appreciate the many cooperative benefits arising from generally harmonious environments.

Society desperately needs leaders who derive their primary satisfaction from making the people they lead feel better, never worse.

Society needs as its managers and leaders those capable of recognizing wrong, including their own faults which they seek to learn from and rectify, who accept responsibility for the errors of those they lead, rather than those who see no wrong in words and actions which others would, do not learn from their mistakes and blame everyone else for their own failings. Society sometime needs to learn the many lessons from the past that Givers, being more interested in others than themselves, make for far better leaders, especially of other people, than those Takers who are fundamentally more interested in themselves than others.

Society needs “Constructive Leaders” who prefer co-operation and collaboration to conflict and turmoil, harmony to disharmony, win-win to win-lose, ultimately preferring to peacefully resolve differences without resorting to war.

The wonderful world we share no longer needs irresponsible and self-centred leaders who struggle to be agreeable and encouraging, thrive on disagreement and dissent, even subtle or more overt havoc and turmoil, believe they are better than everyone else and fail to realise that disharmony in its many guises, especially intimidation and fear, can not only be extraordinarily counterproductive but deeply divisive and destructive.

In continuing to choose such incredibly irresponsible people for positions of responsibility, everyone else in authority needs to better appreciate that such a scenario is not only quite the opposite of the behaviour expected of leaders but also contrary to the fundamental purpose of forming an organisation or indeed any group of people coming together, from business to government, to co-operate towards achieving some common purpose, prioritising the benefit of those it was established to serve not the single-minded ambitions and self-interest of its Disordered Leaders, before it is too late and the damage they invariably do becomes irreparable.

Those with “a chronic, inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking and behaving that seriously impairs an individual’s ability to function in social or other settings” (one definition of a Personality Disorder), should be disqualified from becoming leaders of other people and societal organisations.

As people better respond to praise, encouragement, persuasion and inclusion than criticism, discouragement, aggression and exclusion, what will it take for those with sufficient influence to appreciate that the selfless, positive, encouraging, just, modest and constructive givers with a strong moral-compass, can actually make far better leaders of people, organisations and nations than the self- centred, negative, unjust, critical, discouraging, discourteous, arrogant and destructive takers?

Extraordinarily, as the arrogant are often promoted over the modest, this seems to be one of society’s best kept secrets, along with the peculiar world of Personality Disorders, confirmed by the numbers of “Disordered Leaders” evident throughout global society.

Just because “Disordered Leaders” cannot seem to learn from their mistakes, doesn’t mean the rest of society shouldn’t from theirs, notably when such deeply irresponsible and untrustworthy people are appointed to significant positions of responsibility, beyond the limitations of their personality, especially when building and maintaining rather than damaging trust and reputation, organisational and national, is a priority.

Fortunately there are many such people in managerial and leadership roles throughout global society, but we just don’t tend to hear too much about them, and certainly not from themselves.

Being a truly great and well respected leader while saying nothing about it, is far preferable to those who say and believe they are great leaders when the “reality” is they are anything but. It is such people who give a bad name to “leadership” and are ultimately disrespected by their peers, which can often come as great surprise to them as they know not why, incapable of seeing their deep deficiencies, even when advised by others that their necessity to “win at all costs” and “personally prevail in all situations” is not what really great leaders want or do, especially those who prioritise cooperation over conflict and compromise over “win-lose”.

A young son once said to has father, while watching a football match together:

“Isn’t a draw when both teams win”?

When decisions are made with a ‘win-win’ mindset by management considerate of the needs and interests of all concerned, many ‘stakeholders’ are capable of benefitting.
Constructive Leaders who respect the interests of others and consider that the other parties also need to believe that they are ‘winning’, are in turn likely to be respected.

Such respect contributes to ongoing healthy longer-term relationships and continuing organisational progress, based on the mantra that “repeat business” and “word of mouth referrals” is usually preferable to one-off trades, the inevitable outcome when one party seeks to gain an advantage over the other and be seen to “win” at their expense.

Simple, isn’t it?

Too simple for some it seems.

Peter Drucker wisely asserted that

“the purpose of business is to create and retain a customer”.

Not only do some organisations spend far more time and money creating new customers while devoting insufficient effort to retaining those they currently have, but they make the far less immediately apparent but potentially equally catostrophic mistake of simply choosing the wrong people for important positions, with the same outcome. Lost customers. Lost respect. Lost trust. Lost reputation.

All of which also result in lost revenues, not always associated by the most competitive in society as being a by-product of their poor ethics and necessity to “win at all costs”, being immune to the consequences for others or even their organisation or nation, which psychologists would say are simply not their concern.

Yet spotting such people in advance of their destructive nature becoming more important is anything but simple, given their “ICE” characteristics of apparent (but potentially shallow and skin-deep)  Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence, but far from impossible when responsible people learn what traits and behaviour to look for to “identify and deny” such people the positions of power they will inevitably abuse.

Global society continues to permit far too many ultra-competitive and potentially disordered people to achieve seniority of position, with the inevitable outcome that they perceive their greatest victories as being when they personally “win” and others, including colleagues and coworkers, lose.

In terms of the successful longer term relationships that all entities need, whether businesses, charities, non-profits and NGOs, schools and colleges, sporting and religious bodies, other entities and even nations in terms of international co-operation, those who have to “win at all costs” fail to recognise that at the end of the day it is their business, entity or nation which loses when people no longer wish to “do business” with them, especially when the critical qualities of trust and reputation have been eroded if not irreparably damaged by their antics.

Cooperation breeds mutual understanding and the opportunity for outcomes featuring multiple winners, potentially in both the short and longer term.

Constructive Leaders who successfully inculcate cooperation as a mantra are more likely to create an environment whereby a variety of stakeholders are capable of perceiving themselves as “winners”.

Not all leaders though appreciate the benefits of cooperation and some appear to be more driven by a strong and natural competitive instinct. The ability to “happily work together to create highly effective organisations” and “suppress individual greed and selfishness” may not be shared by all, described in the Irish or gaelic language as “mé féin”, literally translated as “me myself”.

It may take a while for (almost) everyone else (with an active conscience and ability to differentiate right from wrong) to realise that for “mé féin leaders”, their self-interest is their only interest, by which time it may be far too late.

The most severe damage may already be done, in many areas including to trust, reputation, interpersonal  relationships and never-to-be-restored respect, given their fundament disinterest in others  and the absolute and utter dearth of empathy associated with the coldest, meanest and most self-centred people in society.

The entrepreneur who can invent an “empathy or ruth thermometer” which can judge people within the extremes of warm, kind, ruthful, selfless and empathetic with deep emotions at one end and cold, mean, ruthless, self-centred and un-empathetic with “shallow emotions” at the other could be on to a real winner.

Charm may need to be discounted from the product as the most charming can be both the most cruel and the most kind, either masking their true, darker personality or one of the tools the most successful and respected leaders use to inspire their people to want to produce their best and go beyond the call of duty to cooperate towards achieving their common goals.

What might the difference be? Could it be interest? Whether the charmers or the most shy are genuinely interested in the interests and needs of other people or themselves and their insatiable demand to satisfy their gargantuan ego and exclusive interest in their self-interest?

There must be something wrong with those lacking a sense of wrong. Yet the numbers of managers and leaders throughout global society with an inactive conscience, an inability to tell right from wrong and act accordingly, a preference for disrespecting those unfortunate enough to work for them and a lack of “empathetic concern” for the interests and needs of others, indeed in anyone but themselves, would be impossible to quantify in terms of the damage they do to both other far warmer and kinder people and the entity which mistakenly employs or promotes them.

That is why, at its most basic, society needs as its managers and leaders of other people those “givers” more interested in others than themselves than the “takers” more interested in themselves than others.

Society needs those who find it easy to be kind and impossible to be cruel rather than those who find it easy to be cruel and impossible too be kind to be leading its people and organisations.

Indeed even more fundamental, society needs as its managers and leaders those who find it easy to love and difficult to hate than those who find it easy to hate and impossible to love.

Those who consistently engage in almost unforgivable words and deeds are the very same people who time after time expect to be forgiven for the anger and hatred they practice, preach and instil in others, yet are incapable of forgiving those they perceive to have wronged them and hold deep grudges against, even when they didn’t, finding it easy to apportion blame but impossible to accept responsibility.

Society needs those capable of recognising wrong, including their own faults which they seek to learn from and rectify, who accept responsibility for the errors of those they lead, rather than those who see no wrong in words and actions which others would, do not learn from their mistakes and blame everyone else for their own failings.

Society needs leaders who appreciate that their responsibility is to unite rather than divide the people they are responsible for, including those who have never cooperated before.

Society needs leaders capable of diminishing not encouraging hatred and making friends out of former enemies, not enemies out of friends.

Society needs leaders capable of evaluating the consequences of decisions on the grounds of “how will this benefit the people I am responsible for?” rather than “what’s in it for me?”

Society needs honest leaders who are team players, bridge-builders and peacemakers not solo playing troublemakers who thrive on deceit, disrespect and disharmony.

Those who are always right and never wrong, blame others for their mistakes, cannot forgive and hold deep grudges, who cannot accept responsibility for their own failings and those of the people they lead, who have to “get their own way” and “win at all costs” inconsiderate of the consequences, more interested in themselves than the people they are responsible for, simply do not have what it takes to hold positions of responsibility or be leaders of business or society.

Society needs fundamentally responsible people for its most responsible roles, not the most irresponsible people possible, immune to their inadequacies and unaware of their deficiencies, inconsiderate of the adverse consequences when they inevitably prioritise “winning” over compromise, their self-interest over the national interest and themselves over not only others but everyone and anyone else.

Talking the talk is no substitute for actually being capable of walking the walk, especially in the minority of society with whom there would appear to be a deep disconnect between their talk, deeds and reality.

When they cannot seem to be able to evaluate the potentially adverse consequences of their impulsive actions and decisions nor accept responsibility for these consequences and blame others for their failings, they need to be denied the opportunity to be so irresponsible.

Those who say one thing today and another tomorrow, then deny both and the next day do something quite different, need to be considered as unsafe to run a corner newspaper stand let alone a nation, a multinational corporation or financial institution, especially when they do not appear to experience fear in the manner many can and may be incapable of sufficiently evaluating the balance and compromise required between risk and reward which ensures longer-term safety and survival are regarded as being as important as short-term financial gain.

Those lacking in empathy, guilt, remorse, fear and warm emotions need to be denied the opportunity to do what they do best – disagree, discourage, disrespect, disregard, disparage, humiliate, demotivate and be disruptive and disloyal – given that ultimately the only loyalty they are capable of is to themselves.

Those dysfunctional people who thrive on disharmony and display distorted thinking patterns, are moody, labile and temperamental with problematic emotional responses and over- or under-regulated impulse control, especially when these result in interpersonal difficulties, are far more likely to cause harm than do good when mistrusted with positions of responsibility their personality limitations prohibit them from performing in the manner society expects of them.

Those whose perception of matters may be “delusional”, holding personal ideas or beliefs that are maintained with conviction in spite of irrationality or evidence to the contrary, who see criticism or persecution where there is none or none intended and unnecessarily make enemies out of former or potential friends, need to be disregarded when serious consideration is being given whom to hire, promote and even vote for, no matter how charming and eloquent they may appear on the surface to be.

Smart words do not make for smart leadership when there may be a deep and fundamental disconnect between their words and actions and the reality which most people except themselves can see.

But as those with a Personality Disorder rarely see themselves as being different or as being the problem, as they blame all their faults and failings on everyone else, this places the onus to be “responsible” and “constructive” on those who, out of necessity, spend an inordinate amount of their time dealing with the whims of their unbalanced and perhaps “Disordered Leader”.

Their self-interest does not just appear to be an option they persistently prioritise, rather it can seem to be their sole child-like state of mind, overriding all other considerations when the opportunity arises to “get their own way” and “win at all costs”, irrespective of the consequences for anyone or anything else, with their fixed focus fixated on “what’s in it for me?” and “we” or “us” not even on their personal radar.

Charm, especially when seen to be shallow and insincere, should never be mistaken for, or preferred to, good character and the courage to do the right thing even when no-one is looking, nor eloquent talk or false promises for real evidence of integrity.

“Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership” are actually easier to spot than people may realise, so responsible people can practice “identify and deny” such deeply irresponsible people the positions of power they can only inevitably abuse, given that they are fundamentally really only interested in themselves, prefer covert cruelty to overt kindness and see empathy and interest in others as a sign of failure and intimidation, humiliation and ruthlessness as the ultimate signal of success.

Fortunately there is a consistency in their apparent inconsistency, so their bizarre behaviour and mindset may with greater familiarity be seen to be entirely predictable.
Indeed it is their very predictability and inability to amend their own behaviour which allows “us” an insight into the very different world “they” inhabit, but this predictability only becomes apparent when other far more trustworthy and responsible people first learn what traits to look for, then act on this knowledge by denying such fundamentally untrustworthy and irresponsible people any position of responsibility.

Society increasingly needs “Constructive Leaders” who prefer encouragement to discouragement, humility to humiliation, cooperation and compromise to conflict, harmony to disharmony and the interest of others to their self-interest, being peacemakers who find it easy to be kind and impossible to be cruel rather than troublemakers who find it easy to be cruel and impossible to be kind, capable of diminishing not thriving on hatred and making friends out of former enemies, not enemies out of past or potential friends.

No matter what their other talents may be, including the ICE characteristics of Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence, a “selfish-streak” when combined with an inability to show any genuine interest in other people is not indicative of a naturally endowed ability to influence and motivate a group of people towards achieving a common goal, or what is commonly referred to as “leadership”.

When “leaders” feel better from making others feel worse, there is clearly something wrong, especially in those who seem to lack a sense of wrong, and questions need to be asked why they were chosen to lead in the first place.

Those being led know that humility beats humiliation, any time, any place, any where, any culture, any walk of life.

People like feeling appreciated and valued, yet too many managers and leaders do not make others feel as important as they should. The most astute leaders with the deepest emotional intelligence know they cannot go wrong when they practice the simple mantra of treating everyone the same – with the respect they would like to be treated themselves.

Far too many  leaders and managers throughout global society evidently do not, prioritising making themselves feel good at the expense of making those they are supposed to be responsible for feeling bad, who are simply not their concern, ultimately only being interested in themselves. Such people need to be in solo roles without responsibility for other people where their technical expertise can be availed of, if any, not their inability to responsibly manage and inspirationally set an example all their followers will aspire to following.

What the most self-centred fail to appreciate is that this runs quite contrary to one of the core requirements of management and leadership – motivating people to produce their best in their cooperative attempts to achieve the goals of the group and the stated purposes the entity was formed to satisfy in the first place – which are unlikely to include discouragement, disrespect and humiliation in their mission statement.

At the end of the day, it isn’t all about them, although they persist in believing that it is, often appearing to be unaware of their inadequacies and immune to the real damage they do, given the opportunity.

Intimidation and aggression produce fear, anxiety and discouragement, which prevent our minds from thinking positively and creatively.

Yet those who put-down, humiliate, disrespect and bully others can extraordinarily be associated with “strength” rather than “weakness” of character, perhaps even a “Personality Disorder”.

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 praise, encourage, include, inspire, build teams and engender co-operation.

Yet we continue to make such people leaders.

Leaders and managers can have a very deep and lasting impact on many aspects of organisational and even national life, from highly positive and constructive to deeply negative and destructive. So let us be reminded that John Milton’s astute observation in 1667 that:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”

could be just as apt today as it was 350 years ago, as it also well describes the impact of strong personalities on the prevailing culture of not only the organisations they both lead and mis-lead, but even the nations.

While many leaders may be well capable of making a heaven of hell, others are more naturally disposed to making a hell of heaven. Employees unfortunate enough to work in “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures” may well describe the resulting environment as “Paradise Lost”.

Society needs leaders capable of considering the consequences of their words and actions, with the self-restraint to know when saying nothing may be more tactful and responsible, especially when they have nothing positive to say.

Society needs leaders with the self-control which prevents them from acting impulsively and irresponsibly, inconsiderate of any adverse consequences for others, including themselves.

Society needs balanced leaders capable of balancing the interests and needs of various groups they are responsible for, not consistently favouring some groups over others and even spreading dissent between them.

Society needs positive leaders capable of making opportunities from their difficulties rather than negative leaders who specialise in making difficulties from their opportunities.

Just like one of the greatest cognitive or mental disabilities of “Disordered Leaders”, an inability to learn from their prior experiences, do we never seem to learn?

Just because they keep repeating the same mistakes doesn’t mean everyone else needs to when it chooses the most irresponsible people possible for amongst the most responsible roles in society, with entirely inevitable and highly predictable consequences.

Those who see nothing wrong in words, deeds and actions which many others couldn’t even countenance, who seem to operate within their own parameters of what many be right and wrong, especially when others may see these as being confused and bizarre but they believe to be entirely normal and the way they have always lived life and dealt with other people, may indeed have something wrong with them.

It is critically important to stress that Psychiatrists (medical doctors) and Psychologists caution against “amateur” diagnosis of people who may occasionally display some of the more adverse traits discussed here. It is when these traits are pervasive and occur frequently or persistently that a diagnosis of Personality Disorder may be appropriate.

Although people with Personality Disorders can vary from being very shy, insecure, depressed and scared of life to those quite different, being excessively confident, arrogant, believe they are special and do not appear to fear anything or anyone, a significant problem for society is that many who may have one or more of the recognised Personality Disorders (past and present) do not believe their is anything wrong with them, especially when they attribute all their own problems and those they cause for others to everyone except themselves.

Such people may go through their entire lives causing difficulties and in extremes even havoc, especially for others, yet may either not be suspected by others as having a Personality Disorder (given the widespread societal lack of awareness of what actually constitutes a Personality Disorder and such Disordered individuals) or may never actually be recommended for treatment by expert mental health professionals.

It is not just the general public who lack knowledge of what constitutes a Personality Disorder, but General Practitioners who may have greater appreciation of people with depression or anxiety than the level of deceit and manipulation and many other traits associated with the Cluster B Disorders, which can make such “charming liars” exceptionally convincing to the extent that it may be their victims who may not be believed when they try and raise the many challenges they create with their own local doctor. This though is rectifiable by way of Continuing Professional Development which, given the challenges such almost invisibly disordered people create for society in general and difficulties they cause other people and relationships in particular, could be one of those areas which medical students will need to be trained in and practicing medics learn more about as they keep up to date professionally.

Some of those with one or more of the related Cluster B disorders may even try and treat psychological assessment and treatment like a game to be played , not being convinced they need to be treated, only complying if they consider doing so may be in their self-interest, such as gaining early release from prison, or they are given no alternative. But as many do not engage in overtly anti-social behaviour they may never be evaluated psychologically nor arrested for their more subtle mis-deeds, no matter how much damage they do to both people and organisations, whether subtle and covert or tactlessly brazen and overt.

Nevertheless, whether their behaviour ever contributes to an actual professional diagnosis of a Personality Disorder or not, none of the more negative traits we outline here, especially those which may be damaging to other people, are those I associate with people I describe as “Constructive Leaders”, who I strongly argue make for far more effective, and safer, leaders throughout global society, for many, many reasons already discussed.

Fortunately though many of the traits which may assist Psychiatrists and Psychologists come to a diagnosis, whatever it may be, are clearly identifiable by other people, whether they currently attribute them to the possibility of a Personality Disorder or not.

Indeed given the deeply deceitful and manipulative nature of “Cluster B’s” in particular, well capable of arguing they are normal and it is other people with the problems, including those they badmouth and slander, it is actually third party descriptions of their actual behaviour that can greatly assist mental health professionals form their own opinions and diagnosis.

For over 20 years, despite working with many organisations, I just considered such people to be “Selfish, Difficult and Proud” and maybe “Perverse, Contrary and Disagreeable” too. Then organising a business ethics conference in Dublin entitled “Corporate Conference” in 2013 led to a coffee with a psychology lecturer and practicing psychoanalyst who explained Narcissistic Personality disorder to me, in response to my longstanding but previously unanswered query “how can someone screw someone in business without scruples’?

I immediately realised this was the answer I had been seeking both all my career and during a decade attending and then speaking at international business ethics conferences, so starting researching the extraordinary world of Personality Disorders there and then. It has been an extraordinary feeling to recall adverse experiences and to realise that many of the traits which contributed to being cheated, deceived or diminished were those associated with narcissists and/or psychopaths in particular.

I now recognise that I have worked with or for over 50 business people, men and women, capable of being diagnosed with one or more Personality Disorders, although I doubt very much that any of them have ever been examined by a mental health professional let alone received expert assistance such as with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

That is one of the reasons why I realised the importance of researching this matter and writing about it in a manner that most people should be able to understand, given that many people should be well capable of observing much of the behaviour I describe here without ever studying psychology, neuroeconomics or neuroscience  themselves.

If other people can better familiarise themselves with some of the more apparent behavioural traits and associate them with the possibility of a Personality Disorder, then they can begin to adapt their own behaviour in such a manner that they can diminish the degree of harm such damaging people can do to interpersonal relationship and organisational life.

Whether diagnosed or diagnosable or not, which is the prerogative of specially trained and experienced mental health professionals, recognising that a minority of society may be “different” from the norm will allow informed others to deal with them “differently” and better cope with their peculiarities, or preferably deny them the positions of power they are most likely to abuse, as trying to deal with them “normally” will probably result in abject and perhaps incomprehensible failure.

As they perceive many matters differently, see and experience other people differently, think differently and behave quite differently from most other people in society, they CAN be identified and dealt with quite differently, given that at the end of the day it is their own actions, reactions, moods and behaviour, which give the game away to those astute enough to notice.

But they cannot be treated differently unless other people recognise them as being different and familiarise themselves with the identifiable behaviour, especially when others may begin to appreciate that there may actually be a consistency in their apparent inconsistency, given that psychologists believe that many are actually “maladaptive” and struggle to change their behaviour or adapt it to changing circumstances, which makes them easier to identify.

Decision makers may need to assess their better qualities and talents, which may be considerable, and weigh these up against the past, current or potential damage they have done or could do both to other people and the organisation itself, as the most appropriate solution may be to tell them “you’re fired”, especially when they are given the opportunity to improve or change but perhaps don’t because they can’t.

It must be stressed that entirely normal people can behave badly or abnormally occasionally, especially when under considerable pressure (notably that exerted by their most intimidatory peers). But when bad, challenging or self-centred behaviour can be observed by others to be arising regularly, be seen to be recurring and can be predicted by others, that a Personality Disorder may indeed be present.

Society may even need to be protected from Disordered Leaders, initially by way of denying them positions of authority which their personality peculiarities prevent them from using for the responsible purposes intended, something they alone may be aware of. People need to be protected from the harm which can be done by those who delight in causing harm and disturbing harmony.

A self-centred person may not see themselves as being selfish, even when this is very apparent to everybody else, who they are unlikely to seek advice from nor listen to even if offered.

Those more likely to be mean than meaningful, prefer harm and humiliation to humility, cold calculation to compassion and themselves to other people, no matter how well they manage to mask these tendencies, at least much of the time, cannot be trusted with responsibility for other people as they simply do not have what it takes to be other than a one-person band.

They lack the subtlety and tact associated with guiding a jazz group or Irish ceili band in the right direction, or the respect and other qualities required to successfully lead an organisation in the style of an orchestra, with every musician sharing the same sheet-music and playing the same tune, with the goal of achieving organisational goals rather than satisfying the self-interest and varying whims of the Disordered Leader, whose greatest talent may be blowing their own trump-et and playing off different sheet music, which they keep to themselves and deny to the other players.

Harmony is just not something which seems to come naturally to those who seem to have played out of tune with everyone else throughout much of their lives and who innately practice “Destructive Leadership” when mistakenly permitted to bring their disruptive nature to any form of organisational life.

Those who seem to behave the same way all time, being “maladaptive”, lack one of the most critical qualities expected of managers and leaders of all entities in society, the flexibility required to adapt to constantly changing situations and respond in a responsible manner appropriate to varying circumstances.

Those who feel supremely self-confident, whether warranted or not, but cannot experience the feelings of others, do not have what it takes to influence, inspire and motivate others to produce their best, meaning provide the critically important leadership which so many other less arrogant and more modest people throughout global society do in such a subtle manner that the followers they inspire hardly seem to notice, given that tactful encouragement and harmonious cooperation are the order of the day.

All my organisational life I have observed that there can be as much to be learned from seeing management and leadership conducted badly, especially by those emotionally labile, proud and self-centred folk who believe they are great, but aren’t (although unknown to them), and hence advocating and doing quite the opposite of what “Destructive Leaders” say and do, as can be learned from working with or for those selfless peacemakers with great emotional depth and ability to find common ground and compromise, who make management and leadership seem easy.

Such people take every situation which arises in their stride, without apparent fuss, rebuke or the necessity to apportion blame, given that “Constructive Leaders” accept responsibility for the faults of those they lead, yet pass on credit to others when things go well.

In assessing those being considered for seniority of position, especially those involving significant responsibility, global society needs to better appreciate how to ignore shallow charm, self-centred intelligence, smooth eloquence and smart talk disconnected with deeds and actions, past, present or future.

Doing so permits identification of the kind of untrustworthy, irresponsible, ruthless and tactlessly negative troublemakers incapable of truth, subtlety, compromise, bridge-building, genuine teamwork or kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy or indeed any form of warm emotions, consideration for the interests and needs of others, indeed anyone other than themselves, or the ability to properly understand people and their emotions, including their own, if it is not to suffer from their preference for cold-hearted meanness, unfairness, injustice, unnecessary conflict and warmongering, many forms of discouragement, disharmony and tactless havoc, having to get their own way and win at all costs, irrespective of the consequences, as well as their low to no integrity, all contributed to by their deep and fundamental lack of  humanity.

Their extraordinarily confident and ostentatious sense of entitlement, infallibility, indestructibility and immunity from the consequences of their words and deeds, seems to deny them apparent recognition that those who abuse power, just might lose the power they failed to use for the purpose intended, given that their lack of vision and insight resulted from their myopic inability to see matters from any perspective other than their own, ultimately the only person that really matters.

This can seem to be especially so of those who seem to live in a different world than that inhabited by most others, including those they mis-lead because the authority they are trusted with they inevitably misuse to their own advantage, immune to the consequences for others.

Yet we trust such irresponsible and impulsive people with responsibility for the lives and emotions of others, when they can neither manage nor control their own, given that psychologists and sociologists liken their psychological nature to that of primary school children.

A secret which seems to be withheld from the most arrogant in society, especially when they incessantly seek the acclaim of others even when most unwarranted, is that those with a touch of humility make for far more popular if not also more trustworthy and effective leaders, than those with a significant dose of personal pride.

Leaders who seek no real attention for themselves yet are hugely committed to achieving for their people and organisation, often gain the respect of all or most involved.

Yet those who seek acclaim for themselves but are disinterested in others can fail to appreciate why they fail to be appreciated. other than by the most sycophantic.

When modest people fail or fall on difficult times, people can be openly sympathetic towards them and be more inclined to lend them a hand, but when the most arrogant fail, often for reasons they will never be capable of understanding, many others may be covertly delighted, especially those they disrespected and took advantage of during their temporary period of ascendancy.

Even after the organisations mis-led by “Disordered Leaders” have collapsed (perhaps with a track record of failure than building ventures capable of long-term, sustainable success and growth), with many people’s lives adversely affected, trust in tatters and reputation beyond repair, these emotionally labile individuals, because that is what they are, not team-players, can still wonder what they did wrong, finding it easy to apportion blame but impossible to accept responsibility for their many failures, apparent to almost everyone but themselves.

When will we learn that “enough is enough” and learn from the many disasters – physical, emotional and financial – which arise from the “Destructive Leadership” most associated with “Disordered Leaders”?

When will we learn to instead consistently choose in almost every respect their total opposite, “Constructive Leaders”, those who can be safely trusted with positions of significant responsibility, be committed to achieving and advancing the goals of the organisation, sharing their progressive vision for its future, treating everyone involved with the respect they would like to receive themselves and to passionately prioritise the interests and needs and of the people and entity they were chosen to lead over their own?

Somehow and sometime we need to better appreciate the many benefits arising from appointing trustworthy “Constructive Leaders”, given the more cooperative, honest, harmonious and less adversarial culture such responsible and considerate people engender throughout their organisation, being based on positivity, praise and encouragement rather than negativity, critique, fear, discouragement and blame.

Those whose vision is limited to their own perspective, evaluating matters by primarily considering “what’s in it for me?”, are incapable of providing a worthwhile vision for the entity they lead nor inspiring the people they mis-lead to follow their unworthy example.

What are the implications for society if some such disordered people managing and even leading organisations and nations may be incapable of reasoning morally beyond the stage associated with primary school children, and are mistakenly chosen for leadership roles when they lack the fundamental ability to manage even their own emotions, let alone accept responsibility for the welfare of those they are tasked with leading, their organisation or nation and its responsible and constructive role in society?

Perhaps throughout human history, society would appear to have mistaken charm, intelligence, smooth talking, arrogance and even callous ruthlessness for “leadership ability” due to a misconception associated with appointing highly self-centred and combative people to leadership positions, consistently mistaking outwardly dynamic displays of confidence and eloquent talk of integrity for strength of character and intimidatory traits for strength of leadership, when in reality such fundamentally weak and perhaps childlike people, lacking empathy and any real emotional depth, may possess neither good character nor genuine managerial or leadership ability.

Despite the major problems such people create throughout society, from impaired relationships and damaged reputations to business failures, chaos and even wars, which throughout history they may not only have started but perpetuated, being Troublemakers not Peacemakers, the concept of Personality Disorders needs to become more widely appreciated to better understand “difficult people” and their initially bizarre, but in due course entirely predictable behaviour, to sufficiently realise their motivations differ from those of most “normal” people.

This is especially so of those ruth-less people, meaning sympathy-free, who struggle to hide their deep disinterest in the ideas, interests, needs and emotions of those they mis-lead, who given their lack of warm emotions and dearth of humanity they may experience little different from any range of inanimate objects.

They cannot properly understand other people and never will, but a major problem for society is that they think they can, unaware of their own emotional deficiencies which contribute to their struggle to learn from their prior experiences, especially mistakes, or adapt their behaviour as situations change.

Yet we seem to keep making such people managers and leaders of entities throughout global society, unaware of or inconsiderate of the quite inevitable consequences, not those generally associated with management and leadership.

Given their own fundamental inability to change, the onus to tactfully adapt to the many challenges they present lies with everyone else involved for any semblance of harmonious normality to be feasible.

Other people need to be warned not to allow themselves to fall for their external charisma which may transpire to be skin-deep, especially when one day they engage in false flattery of others for the purpose of personal advantage, which can rapidly turn the next day to the most severe character assassination of the same person, just because they disagreed with their (bizarre) point of view.

In their (disordered and distorted) mind at least, the only person that matters is themselves, incapable of seeing the merits in others, except as rivals to be defeated and fired rather than appreciated and hired.

Unable to accept criticism, disproportionate responses can include deep hatred and holding of long-standing grudges, not only “attacking their accuser” but also engaging in a “campaign” of invention and “distortion”, being “the conscious misrepresentation of facts”, and “character assassination”, described as “the slandering of a person usually with the intention of destroying public confidence in that person”.

While some can have fantasies of unlimited power or brilliance, this can also involve confusing fact with fiction and being absolutely convinced about their version of events, even if they bear little resemblance to reality.

“Delusion” has been described as “an often highly personal idea or belief system, not endorsed by one’s culture or subculture, that is maintained with conviction in spite of irrationality or evidence to the contrary” with examples including “delusions of being controlled, delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution” and “delusional jealousy” which can involve being “constantly on the watch for indications that this belief is justified, manufacturing evidence if it is not to be found, and completely disregarding facts that contravene the conviction.”

Fractious people thrive on friction and extraordinarily even fiction, which they can confuse with the actual facts.

Yet we mistakenly trust the most delusional with responsibility for the lives and emotions of others, when they cannot even successfully manage their own.

Those astute, insightful and peacemaking colleagues capable of adapting their behaviour need to respond daily to diminish the degree of harm and havoc these inveterate troublemakers invariably and innately bring to ANY group situation

Given they can seem to live in a world all of their own, in which they may be the most extraordinary person ever born and everyone else significantly inferior, all their assertions and declarations will necessitate independent third party verification.

The most apt advice, especially when they promote themselves and criticise, disparage and even damage the reputation of others, often quite falsely, may be to FIRST BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say or assert (which may be closer to reality or the truth of any situation) until this can be verified, as otherwise they just cannot be believed at all.

If this advice sounds bizarre, it is because their words, deeds, behaviour and indeed mindset can seem irrational if not bizarre when compared with the rationality of others. VANITY MAY NOT EQUATE WITH SANITY.

Society really needs to better appreciate that people who seem to lack a sense of wrong may actually have something wrong with them, especially those for whom making others feel bad, can make them feel good, the opposite of what is expected of managers and leaders, no matter the size, nature or location of the entity.

There is clearly something wrong when the working day (or night) seems excessively long and the highlight is neither going in to work or performing it, but escaping an inhospitable environment to get to the emotional safety and security of their homes and families, given that “Disordered Leaders” thrive on hostility and conflict and are at their most comfortable when making others feel uncomfortable.

Such people being chosen for seniority of position throughout global society is also likely to result in integrity challenges, as the interests of other people let alone wider society and matters of ethics and morality are just not on the personal radar of people secretly or more overtly so obsessed with themselves that when their self-interest is threatened the rest of their mental faculties appear to be switched off.

This seems to be a mechanism which allows them to exclusively consider “what’s in it for me?”, so in the many situations in life which they perceive as being “games” to be won, they can concentrate solely on achieving all that really matters to them – “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs”.

This ambition invariably leads to some form of conflict as they see “win-win” compromise as failure and derive far more personal satisfaction from “win-lose” outcomes, even if at the end of their day it is also their organisations (or nations) and people they mis-lead which also lose.

This is simply not the concern of “Destructive Leaders” exclusively interested in themselves and satisfying their own needs, often quite impulsively, and yet we let such fearless people, incapable of moral reasoning or properly evaluating risk, reward and consequences (all traits associated with Psychopathy), lead our organisations, financial institutions and even our nations, with quite predictable outcomes.

No wonder human history has featured so many business failures and scandals as well as wars and conflicts between both organisations and nations when such people are mistakenly permit to lead, given that that such inveterate troublemakers not only thrive on creating confusion and starting conflicts, even in situations when this seems quite impossible, but they can get an even greater kick out of perpetuating battles which they do their best to turn into wars (amongst the indications of Antisocial or Dissocial Personality Disorder).

Nor will they be the people to try and end conflicts, especially when they were responsible for starting them, ignoring the efforts of the peacemakers most likely to possess the qualities associated with “Constructive Leadership”.

What makes such people even more dangerous is that they see conflict when there is none, hold grudges for life for reasons others may believe to be trivial and seek to extract significant revenge against those who may be unaware that they may have wronged them.

When they doubt the loyalty and trustworthiness of others who they believe are trying to deceive them, look for hidden meanings or criticism when there may be none, are secretive and keep things to themselves because they don’t know who they can trust, can tend to hold negative views of other people who they thrive on criticising, yet are overly sensitive to criticism and can significantly overreact with anger outbursts to perceived criticism, hold grudges and seek revenge, even if unwarranted, and believe their reputation or character are being attacked by others, without objective evidence (all indications of Paranoid Personality Disorder), they simply cannot be trusted to hold positions with any degree of responsibility, especially for other people.

While some of the traits such as emotional shallowness or coldness are common to a number of the related Cluster B disorders as well as Paranoid from Cluster A, it may be less important to try to identify what specific Personality Disorders may be relevant (the role of psychologists and psychiatrists), rather to recognise that one or more Personality Disorders may be present, and hence take steps to behave differently in and around them to better cope with the many challenges they invariably present or, better still do not hire, promote or elect them in the first place, especially if they may have little genuine interest in other people at all.

They can be identified but only when others learn and appreciate what to look for.

For instance there are some in life who are expert criticisers but cannot take an iota of criticism without a significant and perhaps even volcanic overreaction, so everyone else learns to avoid being critical of them. Although some struggle to praise people even for considerable achievements, instead finding some opportunity for critique, they  can nevertheless constantly seek praise and when not being praised by others will engage in considerable self-praise, so everyone else learns to praise them even when this may be totally unwarranted and quite inappropriate (amongst the indications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder).  As an Irish wit once said, they were born with extra-long arms so they can clap themselves on the back.

When people seek attention for themselves and are upset when others are receiving acclaim instead of them (amongst the indications of Histrionic Personality Disorder) they prove the argument (such as that proposed by Jim Collins in “Good to Great”) that people with humility can make for far more effective leaders than those full of personal pride.

When people are overly controlling in relationships in order to avoid being exploited or manipulated (an indication of Paranoid Personality Disorder) or themselves are considered to be deeply cunning, devious, deceptive, untruthful and manipulative (all indications of Psychopathy), they really cannot be trusted with any degree of control of either organisations or people.

While they are cold and unsympathetic towards others, they seek pity for themselves and indeed one of the ways they can be identified is when they cry like a child saying “poor me”, to which they may even add “everyone is out to get me” (amongst the indications of Paranoid Personality Disorder). Given that psychologists and sociologists (such as McCord and McCord) in many respects liken them to primary school children, those that know them best are not surprised, given that so much of their adult behaviour is actually quite childlike.

Unfortunately the very same boys and girls who start fights in school playgrounds, if permitted, go on to cause conflicts within and between organisations and even wars between nations. In children, especially when they seem to enjoy harming other people, siblings and animals, in effect being cruel and incapable of genuine kindness and warm emotions, these can be early indications of psychopathy.

Just like one of their greatest cognitive disabilities (an inability to learn from prior experience is another indication of Psychopathy), do we never seem to learn?

But we can’t unless we better understand the true nature of Personality Disorders, including how such people can be identified and denied positions of responsibility which their personality prevents or prohibits them from performing as well as would be expected of them.

Those who are deeply self-centred, cunning, manipulative, deceitful, impulsive, untruthful and expert liars, with their “shallow emotions” including little or no empathy (amongst the indications of Psychopathy), who cannot take one iota of criticism yet thrive on criticising and blaming others and are constantly in need of praise yet struggle to genuinely praise and encourage others, especially when most warranted (amongst the indications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder) just cannot be trusted with responsibility for other people in any shape or form.

Those who are well capable of cold cruelty and spreading remorselessly malicious rumours, including a campaign of verbal disparagement of others, recognised by psychologists as a “Borderline Distortion Campaign” (associated with Borderline Personality Disorder) or “Psychopathic Character Assassination”  designed to damage the reputation of rivals or those who disagreed with them and they want to extract revenge against or they just want to damage other people, which may involve partial or total distortion of reality or “the truth”, possibly arising from a “delusional” mindset, those who perceive other people differently (as objects) and indeed the entire world quite differently from most others in society, prioritise themselves, their “self-interest”. remorseless ambition and necessity to “get their own way” and “win at all costs”, may even threaten the long-term viability of the organisation itself.

Indeed when such fundamentally irresponsible people are employed in senior and highly responsible roles within organisations they may need to be seen as a potential  “Viability Liability”.

Even when their organisations collapse with many people’s lives adversely affected, such disordered people can still wonder what they did wrong.

The organisations and governments they lead become “one man (or woman) bands” and in such situations one wonders why they bother having “management teams” at all, except to do what they are told by their “Disordered Leader”, even if this is quite the wrong direction for their organisation (or nation) and more likely to cause considerable harm than do good.

Yet time and time again we choose people for managerial and leadership roles whose cold hearted self-centredness, greater interest in themselves than others and preference for conflict over cooperation, criticism over praise, discouragement over encouragement, ordering over asking and ultimately demotivation over motivation, all of which contribute to what for many years I have referred to as the “Five C’s” associated with “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures”, which actually achieve little (and certainly not a committed, satisfied, motivated workforce) except satisfying something else – the ego of those who, because they get a greater kick out of making other people feel bad than good (amongst the indications of Sadistic Personality Disorder) should never, ever be given responsibility for other people no matter the walk of life.

Ultimately they are more likely to do more harm than good to the entity they mis-lead and the people they disrespect, those they should be setting an admirable example for.

Intimidation and aggression produce fear, anxiety and discouragement, which prevent our minds from being creative, something which astute leaders would prefer their followers to be maximising rather than preventing.

Yet somehow people who regularly rather than exceptionally put-down, humiliate, discourage and disrespect others can extraordinarily be quite wrongly associated with “strength” of management, leadership or personality, believing consistent bullying is part and parcel of acceptable people management. It isn’t, and never will be, just an aspect of a disordered personality less capable of “moral reasoning” or separating right from wrong and acting accordingly

Surely quite the opposite applies and intimidation in its many forms should never be considered to be a “strength:, and certainly not in those trusted with responsibility for other people.

The need to feel good from making others feel worse in reality is not only a weakness of character but perhaps even a deep character flaw and maybe even a “Personality Disorder”, given that encouragement not discouragement are well known to be key aspects of management and leadership, both associated with motivation and never, ever demotivation.

None of these traits are those which anyone would advocate in a leader. Yet time after time some or many of them are present, proving how frequently other people in society simply choose those with the wrong personality type for management or leadership of other people, either charmed or intimidated (or both) into appointing them before the gravity of this mistake in due course becomes more apparent. This is then compounded by the extent they will go to to maintain the power they should never gave been granted, having no qualms about damaging other people, their reputation and that of the organisation itself en route.

Yet such situations are entirely avoidable because at the end of the (excessively long) day the behaviour of Disordered Leaders and similar people in other roles throughout society is entirely predictable and can be seen to be so when others learn what traits to look for.

Indeed they provide invaluable assistance themselves, as psychologists refer to those with a variety of Personality Disorders as being “maladaptive”, meaning they struggle to change or adapt to different situations, so those most familiar with their words, deeds, actions and reactions can in almost every situation predict the predictable of those who are experts at denying the undeniable and defending the indefensible.

Indeed it is their very predictability that can be their downfall. The more that others learn what behavioural traits to look for, the better they can diminish the harm such people with a Personality Disorder can do when already in situ in roles of significant responsibility, or (preferably) deny such deeply irresponsible people the seniority of position they crave but, as they lack what is required to successfully carry out such roles prioritising both the entity and the people they are responsible for, they need to be denied the very opportunity to cause the damage they inevitably will and so prevent this becoming irreparable.

I refer to this as IDENTIFY AND DENY which may even need to be one of the managerial priorities of those others who really can and do care deeply for the organisation (or nation) and its people. The necessity for such a policy or practice may only be apparent to those who have already experienced the peculiarly different mindset of Disordered Leaders, given that the Destructive Leadership they ultimately provide is so far removed from that expected of responsible people that it will cause those who appointed them to doubt their own sanity for doing so.

If it took me 25 years in industry to finally begin to understand what may be the mindset and motivations of the most “selfish, difficult and proud” people I had met, or encountered, during my own career, I share these thoughts and what I have learned so others may more readily be able to identify some of the most challenging people in society for what they really are – self-centred troublemakers who thrive on disagreement and conflict with little real interest in the entity they manage or lead or its people – and not only deny them the responsible positions they are too irresponsible to use astutely for the purposes intended, but instead hire, promote or elect the total opposite kind of person – Constructive Leaders – and appreciate the many fine qualities they bring to managerial and leadership roles throughout global society. 

Fortunately there are many such “Constructive Leaders”  in many positions and indeed at all levels including team leaders, supervisors and junior and middle management, all of whom provide leadership to those fortunate to work with and for them,  but we just don’t tend to hear so much from them nor about their many achievements and successes, and certainly not from themselves, given that they are neither arrogant nor excessively proud, rather astute, tactful and modest, good listeners who others in many ways find to be inspirational and good role models who set a good example for others to follow or aspire to themselves.

Much of this seems to come from their being far more interested in the people they lead than themselves and far more proud of their achievements than their own, which they can tend to downplay rather than advertise loudly as they praise and encourage those who, being managers and leaders, they are expected to motivate and never, ever demotivate, which can seem to be one of the driving forces of their total and utter antithesis – Disordered Leaders.

As people with identifiable Personality Disorders can be “found in every race, culture, society and walk of life”, one of the most critical matters for global society to appreciate is that as “Disordered Leaders” see things differently, experience people differently, perceive many matters differently, think differently, behave differently and inhabit a quite different world from most others in society, it is imperative that they be recognised by decision-makers as being substantially different from the norm, being consummate actors hiding their true selves much of the time, hence need to be dealt with significantly differently, including denying them positions of power which they can only abuse, if they are no longer to be permitted to continue to damage the potentially even more wonderful world that everyone else inhabits, which would be far safer, fairer, cooperative, just, harmonious, pleasant and simply much better off if it were exclusively led by “Constructive Leaders”.

Such a utopian ideal may actually be quite achievable, but only when global society gradually begins to better appreciate how to identify potentially “Disordered Leaders” in advance and deny them the opportunity to practice their not so unique form of “Destructive Leadership”, in which case the world we inhabit and share really could be a far, far better, safer and more welcoming and cooperative place – for everyone else.

Society needs to learn the many lessons from the past that “Givers”, being more interested in others than themselves, make for far better leaders, especially of other people, than those “Takers” who are fundamentally and innately more interested in themselves than others.

Being consummate actors, often quite Intelligent, Charming and Intelligent, ultimately in terms of their dealings with other people they can eventually be seen to be ICE cold.

No matter how hard they try to hide their true emotional poverty, disinterest in other people (indeed in everyone but themselves) and the consequences of their seeking to dominate, control and deceive others, simply put “do anything it takes to get their own way” and “win at all costs”, irrespective of and perhaps immune to the consequences for other people or the entity which employs them, this does become apparent to many other people, especially those who may be far better equipped to provide the leadership people expect and the Disordered Leader just cannot. This is especially so concerning those for whom “anything goes” irrespective of adverse consequences or matters of morality and ethics, once they can be seem to personally prevail, especially when others (“losers”) can demonstrably be seen to have lost.

Conflict has never been nor ever will be an acceptable alternative to mutually agreeable compromise, although when organisations and nations are led by fundamentally combative people with little real interest in anyone but themselves, disagreement and conflict in their many forms will be inevitable given that they much prefer “win-lose” to “win-win”, whether the matter be trivial or hugely significant.

As it is actually their own challenging behaviour which makes it easier to identify such people for what they really are, covertly or overtly disordered, when other people learn what traits to look for they can do what their Disordered Leader cannot –  adapt to their peculiarities to diminish the degree of harm such people can do to other people (which they can seem to enjoy, especially when they seek to humiliate and diminish those perhaps much better equipped than them) and the dreadful damage they can do to the levels of interpersonal trust, culture of honesty and integrity and prevailing sense of right and wrong, as well as the organisational (or national) reputation so necessary for continued responsible and rational progress, apparent to almost everyone but themselves.

It beggars belief the number of organisations who go to great lengths to devise laudable Values Statements, communicate and inculcate these Core Values with their employees, then undo all this good work by appointing amongst the most covertly unethical people in society to manage and lead them.

When will we learn? How many more business scandals, corporate failures and conflicts between nations do we need before we appreciate the benefits arising from “Constructive Leadership” and appoint more such people to senior positions in society, purely on merit irrespective of gender or race (see the next article “Leadership – Great Men and Women”) and deny those who malpractice “Destructive Leadership” no matter their level of surface appeal, given that they are actually highly irresponsible and thrive on being deeply divisive?

As troublemakers like these would appear to have been disturbing harmony and ruining people’s lives in whatever area of activity that have been mis-trusted with leadership throughout human history, most notably conflicts and wars between tribes and nations and now also businesses and other organisations, perhaps their troubled mindset, ruth-less (sympathy-free) approach to other people and exclusive interest in themselves and satisfying their own insatiable personal needs, which they innately bring with them to every area of their lives, should be referred to as “the not so new abnormal”?

Recalling Peter Drucker’s astute assertion that “the purpose of business is to create and retain a customer”, for the sake of business reputation, organisational progress built on service to those for whom the entity was founded (the customers, not managers), as well as international diplomacy,  harmonious co-operation and ultimately peace between nations, global society needs to be better protected from those who seem to thrive on practicing “Destructive Leadership” and display what psychologists describe as “consistent irresponsibility”, capable of routinely acting against the common good and doing so with “emotional impunity”.

As far as “Constructive Leadership” is concerned, all the intelligence in the world is of little or no value, if none of it is emotional.

My astute compatriot, Oscar Wilde, could have been referring to “Disordered Leaders” when he quipped that:

“some cause pleasure wherever they go, others whenever they go”.

Prevention is infinitely better than the improbability of cure.

Copyright Julian Martin Clarke 2020

Comments welcome to

jmcpsychresearch@gmail.com

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