Psychology of Leadership – The (Not So) New Abnormal

Psychology of Leadership

– The (Not So) New Abnormal

by Julian Martin Clarke

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

It beggars belief the number of organisations who go to great lengths to devise laudable Values Statements, communicate and inculcate their Core Values with their employees, preferably having already been involved in their development, then undo all this good work by (unwittingly) appointing amongst the most covertly unethical people in society to lead and manage them – those with a Personality Disorder – which this research refers to as “Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership”.

Although quite the opposite of the “Constructive Leadership” expected of leaders, time and time again global society continues to hire, promote, elect and select amongst the most irresponsible people possible to its most responsible roles.

When the highlight of employee’s – excessively long – working day is going home after an arduous and patience-testing experience there is most certainly “something wrong”, although this may be something the most self-centred coworkers, managers and leaders may be incapable of appreciating for themselves, even when this is pointed out to them.

Yet far too many people who innately disrespect, discourage and demotivate rather than respect, encourage and motivate others are promoted to or hired for positions of responsibility in organisations throughout global society, with entirely inevitable consequences.

Yet every sector of global society continues to choose the most irresponsible people possible for far too many of its important roles, with entirely inevitable and highly predictable consequences.

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.

There may be something “wrong” with those who see nothing “wrong” with wanting to make others feel bad, quite the opposite of what society expects of anyone in any form of supervisory, managerial or leadership role.

The “elephant in the room” in such cases may well be that it is the rude, arrogant, inappropriate and discouraging behaviour associated with “Destructive Leaders” (especially when they show little or no appreciation to or real interest in those they manage or lead), which leads to “sub-par” performance in those capable of far better.

Fortunately “Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership”, being “maladaptive” and inflexible, CAN be identified by what they struggle to change – their own behaviour.

These and many other matters led to the initial definition of a “Disordered Leader” I proposed for discussion and refinement at the International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference held in Dublin in October 2019:

“Someone trusted with supervisory, managerial or leadership responsibilities who, due to what may be indicative of a mental and/or personality disorder(s), could be considered to be incapable of consistently responsible, trustworthy, harmonious, prosocial and accountable management or leadership with integrity, including prioritising the interests of stakeholders other than themselves, especially when this may impede satisfying their self-interest.”

At that US IVBEC business ethics conference I also 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 “Destructive Leadership” behaviour, as being different from the norm,
2. Stop them achieving positions of influence & responsibility throughout global society, or if already in situ
3. Learn how to behave differently towards them (“denying narcissistic supply”),
4. Adapt to (not) respond to their sometimes extraordinary actions & reactions (evident due to their “maladaptive” inflexibility), to
5. Minimise the damage & havoc they will inevitably create and preferably replace them with far more responsible people who do meet the “Constructive Leadership” criteria, knowing they will “do whatever it takes” and go to any lengths to maintain the power they should never have been trusted with in the first place.

Familiarity with the behaviour such people typically display (insufficiently associated with a “Personality Disorder”) allows the rest of society to identify them and instead appoint “Constructive Leaders”.

The result can be an end to “empty promises” (with insincere words disconnected from past, present or future actions) and subtle or overt conflict, trouble, intimidation, fear, discouragement, demotivation and “bizarrely” irrational behaviour, situations and negative outcomes, but rather far greater positivity associated with many factors not least cooperation, collaboration, encouragement, motivation and rational, harmonious progress which safeguards rather than imperils the critical factors of trust and reputation.

For some in society, is “self-interest” a conscious decision or a state of mind, prioritised over all other considerations when “getting their own way” is in any way challenged, leading them to “do whatever it takes to win at all costs”?

Might some leaders, notably those who seem to consider matters primarily from the perspective of “what’s in it for me, irrespective of the consequences for others?”, lack a conscience?

Should those who display what psychiatrists and psychologists refer to as “consistent irresponsibility”, capable of acting against the common good and doing so with “emotional impunity”, be permitted to lead the businesses, organisations and institutions of global society?

“Disordered Leaders”, because they practice “Destructive Leadership”, not least because they are TAKERS who prioritise themselves over those they mis-lead, possess power but lack proper authority. Their “followers” do so because they feel compelled to “toe the line”, perhaps concerned for the consequences if they don’t.

Consequently they “keep their heads down” and refrain from suggesting ideas which could be better for the group if initiated. They don’t dare “speak up” because of the potentially adverse reaction and perhaps even retribution from their leader, who doesn’t seek any opinions other than his/her own and reacts badly to any which fail to concur with their (perhaps peculiar or even bizarre) viewpoint.  

Needless to say, as a consequence of this subservience and lack of genuine debate whereby all opinions suffusions creative ideas are sought or welcomed, in such “5C Environments”  (of “Counterproductively Competitive & Combative Corporate Cultures”), decisions are often ill-considered and sub-optimal, progress is modest, people feel excluded and morale is low when people feel they cannot make the fullest possible contribution, denied the opportunity to air their opinion and have it fairly considered, especially in areas in which they have an acknowledged expertise.

“Followers” become “sycophants” purely saying “yes” to what their leader wants to do, whether right or wrong for the entity, fearful of the consequences if they dare disagree.

The “management team” fails to function as it should, or would under more astute leadership, becoming near redundant as an idea generation group and forum for open and honest discussion, the method by which many other entities become “progressive” and pass out their more narrow minded competition. 

In stark contrast, for the many far more acceptable and indeed attractive aspects associated with “Constructive Leadership”, not least because followers have many reasons to believe that their leader has a genuine interest in them and their endeavours, often being a GIVER more interested in others than self, “Constructive Leaders” possess the power they can be trusted to use for the purposes intended and the moral authority to astutely lead the entity in the right direction and inspire their people to actually want to follow them and the example of an admirable “tone at the top” they set.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that those who act in a powerfully authoritarian manner may lack authority, while those who lead in a non-authoritarian manner may be perceived by those they are responsible for to possess genuine authority, perhaps even as admirable role-models, especially when seen to use their authority for the constructive purpose intended.

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

(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

(There is an alternative to leaders with a Personality Disorder: What Society Needs

It beggars belief the number of organisations who go to great lengths to devise laudable Values Statements, communicate and inculcate their Core Values with their employees, preferably having already been involved in their development, then undo all this good work by (unwittingly) appointing amongst the most covertly unethical people in society to lead and manage them – those with a Personality Disorder – which this research refers to as “Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership”.

Although quite the opposite of the “Constructive Leadership” expected of leaders, time and time again global society continues to hire, promote, elect and select amongst the most irresponsible people possible to its most responsible roles.

Why might this be?

What can we do to ensure only fundamentally responsible people are chosen not only for the most important positions but indeed any role in society?

What constitutes a “Disordered Leader”  could be one of global society’s best kept secrets, given the number of business and national leaders capable of being so diagnosed by professional psychiatrists and psychologists, in the unlikely event they ever meet.

The task of identifying this small sub-group of society is compounded by their supremely confident ability to “talk the talk” and give “lip-service” support to whatever others expect of them in their role, including showing an interest in the Organisation itself and the People they are tasked with leading, while this suits them.

This though will transpire to be pure pretence as they are fundamentally and innately only interested in themselves, with their (covert) priority being satisfying their self-interest, sometimes in a quite premeditated and planned manner and on other occasions quite impulsively.

Being superb actors and often quite “Intelligent, Charming and Eloquent” (as well as ICE-cold emotionally, their lack of compassion facilitating their ruth-less-ness), their pretence can include faking an interest in Values Statements, Codes of Conduct, Mission, Integrity, Transparency, Social Responsibility, Human Resources and Personal Development, Education & Training, Core Values, Climate Change, Public Relations, Stakeholder Relationships and many other noble and well-intentioned attempts to create a culture of respect, honesty and unity of purpose throughout the entity, even if such interest may transpire to have been shallow, pure pretence and readily dropped when it clashes with impulsively satisfying their self-interest, irrespective of any adverse consequences for other people or the business, organisation or even nation they mis-lead.

How can we IDENTIFY such people in advance and DENY them the power they can only abuse?

How can those unfortunate to work with and for such people IDENTIFY them for who they really are and ADAPT their own behaviour to diminish the real harm they can do, to other people’s emotions and lives, to interpersonal trust and organisational or national reputation?

For starters, we need no longer be impressed by their impressive words nor charmed by their apparent charisma.

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 at people management and rational leadership, indeed at much of what is required of leaders, with their main talent being their ability to blow their own trumpet.

Irrespective of size or type of organisation or nature of their specific leadership styles, entities in society led by selfless, cooperative leaders often appear to be singing off the same hymn-sheet and to be playing to the same tune.

Self-centred leaders do not appear to appreciate the benefits arising from unity. Their sheet music, like their disordered and often child-like minds, not only differs from the rest of the band or orchestra but, because they refuse to share the music with others, not unlike a child refusing to let others play with its toys, thrive on confusion and everyone playing to quite different tunes, quite the opposite of what is required of a leader.

Ultimately they are only capable of being a one-man band. Yet we trust “Disordered Leaders” with responsibility for the lives and emotions of other people, when they cannot even properly manage their own.

Society needs the kind of leaders who can sense the temperature of the moment and know when best to provide either overt orchestra style leadership or appreciate, like guiding a jazz band or Irish ceilidh music session along the right path, that just being a member of the team, using a few well chosen words and setting a good example for others to follow may be the most apt way of calmly dealing with situations.

No matter how laudable some of their other talents may be, society and its organizations ultimately suffers from appointing leaders with an insatiable personal need to be seen to be the hero or heroine, who proactively seek praise when unwarranted and deflect blame for their many failings to others, eventually driving the musicians who perform for them to seek greater harmony by leaving for pastures new, in effect allowing their rival bands and orchestras to avail of their talents because of the myopia, intransigence and intimidation practiced by the illegitimacy of their self-centred leadership.

Yet we continue to elect them to leadership positions, due to what I refer to as “The Leadership Fallacy” which misinterprets some of their less admirable traits, including their more combative qualities such as fear-inducing intimidation and humiliation, as actually being appropriate to those which a “strong” leader could or should possess, while falling for some of their finer qualities, especially their Intellect, Charm and Intelligence (even if they transpire to be ICE-cold), referred to by some of their victims as their “magnetic personality”, which essentially provide a “mask of normality” to hide their truer, darker, more innately devious and cruel tendencies.

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 “5C environments” involving “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” (the process of determining right or wrong in a given situation) 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 “race nation, tribe and language”, 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?

What if such people 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.

Those who seem to thrive on disturbing harmony and prefer conflict to cooperation and discouragement to encouragement may even be disturbed themselves.

Those who have no option but to associate with such people well appreciate that, when dealing with those who may themselves be disturbed, there is nothing to be gained from disturbing them. 

Indeed quite the contrary, as coping with those who thrive on being contrary can involve keeping them on an even keel, praising them when unwarranted and not rising to the bait when they criticise, demean and humiliate others they are employed to encourage and motivate.

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, allied to their inability to see anything wrong with themselves and tendency to blame anything and everyone else for their failings and the many problems they create, for which they accept no responsibility.

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” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary 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. Belief that they are special and most others are inferior, not worthy of being associated with them
  4. Sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment from others
  5. 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)
  6. Cannot accept responsibility for their innate irresponsibility
  7. Need for praise from others
  8. Need to belittle those they perceive (often wrongly) to be rivals, critics or they believe disagree with or disrespect them, attacking and slandering their good name, often quite fictitiously/delusionally, while falsely assassinating their character
  9. When not being praised by others they can praise themselves, sometimes extravagantly, including for achievements only they recognise
  10. Behave arrogantly with a conceited, pretentious & pompous manner
  11. Boastful of their talents or achievements, even if greatly exaggerated or totally fictitious, only present in their own version of reality, the unique world they live in
  12. Active imaginations especially about themselves and rules to be obeyed (their own not society’s)
  13. Huge belief in their invulnerability and ability to “get away” with anything
  14. Tendency to fantasise about success, power, brilliance or beauty
  15. Expect to be recognised as superior, even without commensurate achievements
  16. Find it easy to be “ruth-less”, meaning free of sympathy/compassion
  17. Envious of others or belief they may be envious of them
  18. Insist on being and having the best of everything
  19. Others need to “walk on eggshells” in their presence given their volatility
  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. Total disregard for the emotions of others, which they may not be able to experience, or wish to damage, due to an inability to empathise with the feelings of others
  22. Manipulate and take advantage of others to get what they want
  23. Interest shown in other people only while they are deemed to serve a useful purpose, otherwise they can be ignored, discarded or even verbally attacked and disparaged
  24. People can be coldly experienced, no different from inanimate objects (such as shopfront mannequins)
  25. Other people exist to be used to satisfy their insatiable personal needs
  26. Otherwise they have no intrinsic value as people, nor any interests or needs worthwhile knowing, as ultimately they just do not matter
  27. Despite their constant need for praise, they struggle to genuinely praise others, preferring to find reason or fault, even when praise may be most warranted
  28. Thrive on criticism but can’t cope when this is directed at them; warranted or not, always without merit in their mind given their huge self-belief
  29. Grossly over react to anything they perceive to be criticism, even if there was none or no critique was intended
  30. Blame other people, events or situations for their own errors, inadequacies or failings, perhaps by way of “projecting” these on to others rather than “facing facts” and trying to deal with their personal issues themselves; until aware of their tendencies, third parties are more likely to believe their criticism of others, not realising they may be some (perhaps only) form of recognition of their own failings
  31. “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 suggesting or proffering a different opinion from theirs
  32. They can derive more pleasure from disrespecting than respecting others, especially those who dare to criticise them
  33. Poor at regulating their emotions, so can be moody (“emotionally labile”) and temperamental, with anger always lying just beneath the surface, ensuring others tread very carefully in their presence and do not say or do anything which differs from their opinion or could even be remotely perceived as criticism or an alternative opinion
  34. Impatience or temper tantrums when criticised or don’t receive special treatment.
  35. React with cold indifference or feelings of rage or emptiness in response to criticism, indifference or defeat
  36. Cold when others would expect them to be warm
  37. Disinterested or no genuine interest in other people or their interests, needs and achievements, including  in situations when others would expect them to be interested
  38. Create a wide variety of interpersonal problems (probably better appreciated by the others involved) including when they require others to be subservient and sycophantic
  39. Can treat others with contempt and hatred for little apparent reason, preferring intimidation to encouragement, making others wonder what they may have done to incur their hatred and wrath (perhaps very little) and requirement to extract deep revenge
  40. Much of their behaviour can be seen to promote themselves and put-down, discourage, disparage and even humiliate others
  41. Struggle to change or adapt their behaviour
  42. Struggle to learn from their mistakes, which they can regularly repeat even when alerted by others to them; what may appear to be “stubbornness” (a refusal to respond to the requests of others) in such situations may in fact be an inability to learn from their prior experiences
  43. 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 and other deficiencies
  44. Even after their organisation or entity has collapsed, with many people’s lives adversely affected, they struggle to consider they may have been at fault or what they did wrong
  45. Those without a sense of wrong must have something wrong with them
  46. Making others feel bad can make them feel good
  47. They seem to get a special kick from openly disagreeing with and publicly putting down others, even if quite wrong to do so
  48. Those who have been in relationships with narcissists, professional or personal,  say amongst the worst aspects is their disloyalty, only capable of loyalty to themselves, deriving pleasure from both disparaging others and promoting themselves while fictitiously slandering those they may be expected to be agreeable with and loyal to
  49. 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, as they see nothing wrong with themselves and blame anything and everyone else for their many failings
  50. Those astute, insightful and peacemaking colleagues capable of adapting their own behaviour need to respond daily to diminish the degree of harm and havoc these inveterate troublemakers and skilled but often charming liars invariably and innately bring to ANY group situation
  51. Given they can seem to live in a world all of their own, in which they are the most extraordinary person ever born and everyone else significantly inferior, all their assertions and declarations will necessitate independent third party verification
  52. 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. 

Neuroscientists explain that when people are satisfied, content and indeed happy, they avail of one set of brain regions which allows them to be at their best and most creative, seeking cooperation and wanting to fully engage, while when they are scared, fearful or unhappy, they avail of a different and rival set of brain regions (only one of which can appear to be active at any given time) more likely to bring out the worst in them, the response triggered when they are disrespected rather than encouraged by others.

Hence the importance of leaders and managers behaving in a predominantly positive manner – cajoling, encouraging, motivating and even inspiring those they have responsibility for, even when they have not quite performed to their potential, which those with ample “emotional intelligence” are often very well equipped to both realise and practice.

Yet those who put-down, humiliate, disrespect and bully others can somehow be associated with “strength” rather than “weakness” of both leadership and character, perhaps even a “PERSONALITY DISORDER”.

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 eloquence can hide a fundamental disconnect between words, deeds, promises and subsequent actions, whose often ample intelligence is misused, being cunningly calculating, self-centred and anything but emotional, indeed 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 salient advice to those who have to deal with such people includes:

  1. BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of what they say, as they can be deeply deceitful, take pleasure in lying, do not mind when they are caught doing so and may not even realise they are lying;
  2. DO THE OPPOSITE of what they want, as this can often be the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, more likely to achieve personal satisfaction than be “the right thing” for the group they mis-lead;
  3. ADVISE THEM THE OPPOSITE of what you want them to do, as being “perversity personified” they don’t like taking advice and will tend to do the opposite of what others ask them to do, “contrary” by nature;
  4. NEVER CRITICISE THEM as, despite being masters at dishing out criticism and many other forms of rebuke and disrespect to others, they can’t deal with an iota of criticism themselves, and are likely to over react to any (real or imagined) in a totally disproportionate, angry and even “histrionic” manner; so in such scenarios others learn to SAY NOTHING their “Disordered Leader” could find the opportunity to disagree with, let alone critique, or indeed anything they may perceive to be anyone doubting their undoubted (in their own mind) “brilliance”;
  5. Others learn to PRAISE THEM PROFUSELY as not only do they need, seek and crave praise, and can tend to praise themselves when others fail to do so, yet find it hard to genuinely praise others, especially when most warranted, which also contributes to “sycophantic” behaviour amongst followers and nominal “management team” members; praising in an insincere manner is usually to gain some advantage but in this case it can be to avoid rebuke or worse, potentially being excluded or fired for the crime of proffering a different suggestion or opinion from that of their “Disordered Leader”, in such cases why bother with having a “management team” at all – except to do what they are told?
  6. Ensure the GREAT IDEA is seen to be theirs, otherwise it won’t be actioned, as they need to take credit for it and deny praise to those most responsible;
  7. BE PEACEMAKERS AND REMAIN CALM when they try to stir up trouble, saying and doing nothing in response to their regular provocations, not rising to the many challenges they pose, baits and traps they set, especially for those who do not yet appreciate they seem to thrive on disagreement, dissent and many forms of disharmony;
  8. BE TACTFUL AND KIND WHEN THEY ARE CRUEL AND UNCARING and (unlike them) hold no grudges or hatreds nor seek no revenge (even for trivia), as being “ruth-less” (meaning “sympathy-free”) and making others unhappy can seem to make them happy, while seeing others happy can make them unhappy, making them want to disturb whatever satisfaction and pleasure others are enjoying, although not always in their presence, when others have to be “on edge” and WALK ON EGGSHELLS, so they learn
  9. DO NOT DISTURB THOSE WHO MAY THEMSELVES BE DISTURBED, even if they believe their own behaviour is normal, there is nothing wrong with them at all, nor with their mindset, their way of thinking and the myriad of problems (including “interpersonal difficulties”) they cause and challenges they create are the fault of others, who they blame at every opportunity;
  10. PREDICT THE PREDICTABLE as although many believe their behaviour to be bizarre and abnormal (which it is), given that they can be “maladaptive” (inflexible), “labile” (moody) and fail to learn from their mistakes, over time those closest to them realise how predictable they can be and hence learn how to avoid whatever “triggers” their boorishness and necessity to control, which otherwise may be “uncontrollable”;
  11. DO NOT FEAR THOSE WHO DO NOT EXPERIENCE FEAR as when others realise they thrive on trouble, seek reward inconsiderate of risk, actively seek arguments and are not scared by confrontation (as they thrive on conflict which they prefer to cooperation and would rather see people “at each others’s throats” than getting on fine and collaborating well), they will no longer be scared by their antics and learn to expect their provocation, making it easier to “turn the other cheek”, do not respond and just say nothing and walk away from potential trouble, denying them “narcissistic supply” and the oxygen they need to “fuel their fires of dissent” and create the disorder, disharmony and even havoc they insatiably seek;
  12. DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO BE LOYAL as they are only capable of loyalty to themselves and, if the whim takes them, can be exceptionally disloyal even to their most patient, tactful and loyal followers, changing from (false) praise one day to the deepest and most savage form of “CHARACTER ASSASSINATION” the next, often quite deceitfully and “delusionally” given that they have a major problem separating fact from fiction, which is why not one word they utter can be believed, unless subsequently independently verified;
  13. REMAIN POSITIVE AND DO NOT EXPECT ENCOURAGEMENT as they thrive on many forms of negativity, criticism and even humiliation, in effect deep discouragement and demotivation, although encouragement and motivation are widely agreed to be amongst the most critical roles of leaders to achieve common goals, not just to satisfy the personal ambitions, whims and grudges of self-centred leaders;
  14. PUT THE ORGANISATION (OR NATION) FIRST and prioritise what may benefit the “stakeholders” such as customers, employees, suppliers, local communities, the environment (and citizens, all not just some), separating these from what may be mal-practices and policies more likely to personally benefit the finances, ego or pride of self-centred leaders or sometimes entire management teams;
  15. DO RIGHT WHEN THEY DO WRONG and appreciate “THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO A WRONG THING”, hence doing what the “Disordered Leader” cannot: safeguard the TRUST and REPUTATION others know to be important but they fail to appreciate, especially when they SEE NO WRONG in their own words and deeds, notably when these seem more focussed on rebuke, revenge, retaliation and their personal necessity to impulsively “get their own way” and “win at all costs, irrespective of the consequences”, not unlike the most troublesome of primary school children;
  16. The necessity for others to AVOID TROUBLE by being SYCOPHANTIC does not auger well for organisations making the best progress possible based on pooled ideas, informed discussion, healthy debate, rational decision making considerate of the interests and needs of the variety of “stakeholders” affected and how they may be impacted by the possible outcomes of their decisions, nor for the many forms of cooperation and collaboration required for sensible progress to follow; indeed it makes “management teams” almost redundant…

there is clearly something very wrong, especially in those who seem to lack an internal sense of wrong and whose “vision” is focussed not on the constructive and harmonious future of the entity (or any grouping in global society they mis-lead), rather on themselves and satisfying their self-interest, primarily considering issues from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?”

None of these are traits or behaviours which people would advocate in supervisors, team leaders or managers, so why can they be so prevalent with (fortunately only) a minority of “leaders” that many seem to accept them as being part and parcel of “senior management”?

None of these are acceptable. They never have been and they never will be.

Indeed they are indicative of one simple fact – the business, organisation, entity (or even nation) is led by the wrong person – more capable of doing harm than good, damaging rather than building relationships and more likely to (perhaps irreparably) impair trust and imperil reputation, especially when they prioritise themselves over those they are tasked with leading and fail to appreciate that this is not why they were trusted with such an onerous responsibility.

At the end of the day, it isn’t all about them, although they persist in thinking that it is.

This can be so even after they have been removed from the positions of power which they could have used constructively for the purposes intended, but did not and could not.

For many in society self-interest is just one matter to weigh up when decision-making, which some are better at evaluating or discounting than others. Indeed for many years I have advocated that, before they finalise a decision, management teams step back and identify to what degree their self-interest (monetary, prestige, promotional opportunity et al) may have impacted on their planned decision and, when notionally removed from the equation, consider whether they would still take the same decision.

If so, they can be even more satisfied that they are doing the right thing for the entity which employs them and the key “stakeholders”, or the people and groups of people affected or impacted directly and indirectly by the decision or resulting action.

If not, they may need to further deliberate, notably taking the longer-term perspective including considering the likely reputational impact and which “stakeholders” may benefit or suffer as a result, while discounting what may then be better seen as short-term opportunism, especially if their decisions and actions may risk damaging trust and reputation if more widely known.

It is extraordinary the number of poor or wrong decisions people and organisations make in the expectation that “no-one will find out” – until others do find out (perhaps due to conscientious whistleblowers ).

This can especially be the case when the decision was forced on others by those this research refers to as “Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership”, or bullies for short, who intimidate their people to the degree that the “management team” fails to function as a “team” at all, indeed may even become redundant as a decision-evaluating entity, especially when the members believe they have no option but to sycophantically follow the lead and opinion set by their “selfish, difficult and proud” boss, notably when the interests of the organisation (or nation) become secondary to satisfying the self-serving whims of the “Disordered Leader” (eg Hitler).

Being “found out” produces the challenging decision whether to “own-up” or “cover-up” and risk further reputational damage, which could so easily have been avoided had the time been taken to properly consider the issues and what may be the real motivations behind the decision(s).

(The 15 ways to Communicate in a Crisis are explained in this case study of the mishandled Hillsborough disaster or Ireland’s Crisis which necessitated involvement of the IMF and EU when the elected leaders couldn’t or wouldn’t provide the leadership required).

However, for this small (“disordered”) subsection of global society, incapable of “doing the right thing”, which across all sectors of all nations holds a disproportionate number of senior positions requiring responsibility and accountability, their self-interest is their overarching and perhaps sole priority and the lens through which they view all situations, notably from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?”, which contributes to they being amongst the most irresponsible and least accountable people possible and extraordinarily inappropriate for any seniority of position, no matter the nature of the entity or role.

Given that their:

  1. cognitive or mental priority is “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs, irrespective of the consequences” for other people, their organisation (or nation) and (incredibly) even themselves (as they can transpire to be the most damaged by their errors of judgement),
  2. such is the degree of their “impulsivity” which (especially when their self-interest is challenged) prevents them from properly evaluating situations, failing to properly weigh up the merits, demerits or likely consequences of alternative courses of action, or indeed even evaluate matters from any perspective other than their own,
  3. not concerned whether their actions or decisions may be “right or wrong in specific situations” (“moral reasoning”), as when their self-interest is concerned their priority and concern can seem purely to be that they are right and others wrong, which can make it difficult (at first) for others (who may consider them to be totally wrong, yet feel powerless to rectify the matter) to try and understand the rationale for their peculiar decision-making, which can run contrary to the best interests of the body which employs them, given that their motivations and perceptions differ from most other people in society;
  4. when combined with their “vindictive” nature (holding long-term grudges for short-term trivia), seeking to extract revenge against those they perceive to be rivals or critics (even if not),
  5. given they can also be “paranoid” and believe others to be conspiring against them,
  6. they do “whatever it takes” to damage their “opponent’s” reputation, even entirely fictitiously (termed a “distortion campaign” or “character assassination”), which many unaware of their traits may believe,
  7. given their tendency to exaggerate both their talents and achievements (highly imaginatively, including pure invention) and
  8. the wrongs they perceive others to have done to them (even if they haven’t, sometimes quite the opposite as they actually may have been trying to help or be kind to them), and
  9. their quite different worldview (termed “distorted thinking patterns”) of (a) situations (as if there were no other perspective other then their own, notably “what’s in it for me?”),
  10. (b) of people in general, with “shallow emotions” or, “lacking empathy”, coldly, callously and “unemotionally” (lacking the warm emotions which permits most people to understand and respond appropriately to the feelings and emotions of others),
  11. instead experiencing other people as if they were no different from “inanimate objects” (treated like “possessions” no different from their phone, car or home) and
  12. (c) of colleagues/coworkers and other “stakeholders” in particular (who exist to be used, manipulated and deceived) and
  13. not only their inability to separate fact from fiction, especially when the fiction is one they invented or spun themselves (perhaps “delusional” if not “psychotic”),
  14. but also their exceptional talent at “deception”, including pure delight in lying (not bothered at all by being “found out”, when they just change their story, confusing other people further),
  15. part of the thrill or excitement they get from “fearlessly” engaging in “risky behaviour”,
  16. and engaging in other forms of  “anti-social behaviour”, often damaging to others,
  17. being fundamentally only interested in themselves, which they can succeed in masking from many people, most of the time,
  18. until others challenge them or their self-interest (which can be fatal for any relationship) when their charm can be dropped and their true “self” revealed,
  19. which due to their “poor behaviour controls” can rapidly change to impatienceintolerance and temper, especially when they perceive the person’s purpose has been served,
  20. or they have disappointed them in any way, or spoken favourably of people they dislike or hold a grudge against (the list of people they hate can be a long one),
  21. or others simply disagree with them in any shape or form (their arrogance hides a very thin skin) as they cannot cope with any form of critique,
  22. or alternative opinion from their own, despite thriving on being critical of others,
  23. or of other people getting the attention they believe should be uniquely theirs (which can produce a “histrionic” over-reaction),
  24. as given their “gargantuan ego” and “sense of entitlement”, they believe that only they should be the “centre of the universe” and everyone else exists to serve their needs,
  25. their moodiness (or “emotional lability”) which forces those in their circle to “walk on eggshells”,
  26. the personal pleasure they derive from embarrassing, ridiculing, belittling, disparaging and humiliating others (as making others feel small helps them feel big),
  27. their unsurpassed expertise at demotivation is quite the opposite of what is expected of leaders, especially when they exclude the most capable people for petty reasons,
  28. given that they derive pleasure from making others miserable,
  29. can be happy making others unhappy and be unhappy seeing others happy, which they can then seek to disrupt,
  30. it should not be a surprise when they actively seek conflict and engender the “Five C’s” of “Counterproductively Competitive and Combative Corporate Cultures”,
  31. seemingly unaware of the benefits of cooperation except when manipulating others to assist satisfying their self-interest,
  32. only capable of  seeing matters from their own extraordinarily self-centred and myopic perspective, seeking or demanding “my way only”,
  33. failing to appreciate that inclusive debate and discussion is a constructive opportunity to maximise collective progress,
  34. while being so disagreeable by nature, not only cause trouble even in situations when this would seem to be improbable or even impossible,
  35. but seek to perpetuate and deepen the conflicts they have (often unnecessarily) created,
  36. without any semblance of guilt or remorse or sense of wrong (which delegates out of necessity the role of  both rational and moral reasoning as well as peacemaker to those unfortunate to work with or for them),
  37. which permits them to behave in an unconscionable manner, without any semblance of conscience (notably when it comes to satisfying themselves),
  38. which many can perceive to be quite childlike behaviour,
  39. as their “emotional state” and “ability to engage in moral reasoning” has been likened to that of primary school children, having to “get their own way” in everything, satisfy themselves and throw a childlike tantrum when they don’t,
  40. even whinging or almost crying when they don’t get what they want,
  41. as “seeking sympathy” can be one of their priorities and a tool they use in relationships,
  42. although they themselves (being cold, impersonal and “lacking warm emotions” especially genuine kindness) deny others the sympathy or compassion that may be warranted in situations, allowing them to be “ruth-less” or sympathy-free,
  43. as for some their challenging behaviour begins during their childhood,
  44. especially when they engage in cruelty, subtle and covert or  demonstrable and overt,
  45. unnecessarily damaging rather than building relationships, both interpersonal and between institutions, organisations and even nations,
  46. inconsiderate of the implications for anything or anyone else (not their concern, although it should be), not least damaged trust and eroded reputation;
  47. being experts at making enemies of former friends rather than friends of enemies,
  48. preferring to to unite rather than divide the people they are responsible for;
  49. despite being absolutely insensitive to the interests and needs of others,
  50. they can be incredibly sensitive to personal criticism, leading to an excessive (perhaps “histrionic”) over-reaction,
  51. their necessity for constant praise (despite denying others praise and credit when most warranted),
  52. even praising themselves when others make the mistake of not doing so,
  53. their ability to take credit for the achievements of others, while
  54. accepting no responsibility for their many personal failings,
  55. which they “project” and blame on everyone and anything else,
  56. as they find it easy to hate and impossible to love, be loved, or be genuinely kind and considerate of the interests and needs of others,
  57. treating many life situations like a “game” to be won,
  58. including the mind games they also delight in playing with other people,
  59. facilitated by their often considerable “charm” (utilised when people serve a useful purpose to them, in which case they may be temporarily treated quite well),
  60. even if their charm can seem to be quite insincere, “glib, superficial” and purely used to get something they want or gain some form of advantage, rather than be out of a genuine interest in other people, something they are quite incapable of,
  61. especially when their necessity for “control” becomes uncontrollable, and
  62. their extraordinary sense of invincibility and their delusional self-belief convinces them that they can do (and get away with) anything they want,
  63. even if fundamentally ill-equipped for many of the tasks they are mistakenly trusted with, evident to almost everyone except themselves, believing themselves to be experts in areas which they know little or nothing about,
  64. all of which contribute to their extraordinary degree of irresponsibility, lacking a sense of wrong, while invariably believing themselves to be “normal”,
  65. with the myriad of problems they create being due to situations and other people who they then may get to hate and need to attack in some manner,
  66. failing to appreciate that when they try to damage the character of others, that it can be their own which can become most doubted, being absolutely lacking in integrity, tact, patience, remorse, empathy, compassion or anything remotely associated with warm emotions, modesty, humility, modesty or conscience,
  67. initially appearing to have many of the the right credentials although this transpires to be a sham, given that their greatest talent is acting, deceiving, manipulating and pretending to be competent, rational and normal, which they even totally believe themselves, although no-one else who has experienced their self-centred and delusionally “Destructive Leadership” would or could concur,

there could not be a group of people more inappropriate for supervisory, managerial or (perish the thought) leadership roles in any organisation or institution of global society, especially our nations.

So many of global society’s problems, challenges, disasters, conflicts and wars, past and present throughout human history, would appear to have arisen because we have trusted this small subgroup of society, warmongering troublemakers who thrive on perversity, conflict, disagreement, disrespect and disharmony (upset with harmonious collaboration), being innately overtly and covertly dysfunctional, emotionally shallow (cold, callous and calculating), labile (moody) and unstable, for the lives and emotions of many others, when they cannot even successfully harness or manage their own.

At its most basic, the outlook of “Disordered Leaders” who only know how to practice “Destructive Leadership” is primarily focussed on “me” not “we” or “us” and this guides much of their behaviour.

Until this is fully understood, they will continue to be be misunderstood.

At the end of the day though, 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.

This can be so even after they have been removed from the positions of power which they could have used constructively for the purposes intended, but did not and could not.

No matter how well some succeed in masking their actual abnormal tendencies with Intelligence, Charisma and Eloquence (although not all could be so described), the real traits of these dangerous ICE-cold people do surface, especially when they or their self-interest are challenged, sometimes in a quite shocking manner to those unfamiliar, making those who hired, promoted, selected or elected them wonder how they could have been so mistaken, especially when they go to great lengths to maintain the positions they are incapable of performing in the manner expected by society of them.

Prevention is far preferable to the improbability of cure.

Those without a sense of wrong must have something wrong with them. Yet time and time again, these very people are hired, promoted, selected and elected to seniority of position for which they could not be more inappropriate, with entirely inevitable consequences.

Those who intimidate and induce fear in others can also be fearless themselves, which makes them less capable or incapable of evaluating risk and reward and finding an appropriate balance between the two. Yet we let such people mis-lead large corporations especially financial institutions, with entirely inevitable consequences.

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, quite  the opposite of what is expected of managers and leaders, no matter the size, nature or location of the entity.

Those with regular involvement with such people in due course realise that when dealing with those who may be deeply disturbed, there is nothing to be gained from disturbing them in any shape or form.

This is especially so if any sense of serene and composed normality is to be permitted, even if just for a while, until they are next provoked, whether the provocation is real or imagined.

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.

Somehow throughout the generations and indeed centuries we consistently see to have mistaken outwardly dynamic displays of confidence, arrogance and talk of integrity for “strength of character” and intimidatory traits for “strength of leadership”, due to a “Leadership Fallacy” which mistakenly considers strength of personality and intimidatory tactics to be indicative of strength of character and leadership ability, rather than the probable absence of both.

They may believe themselves to be strong and mature, but in reality they are weak and childlike, having to “get their own way”, throwing tantrums when they don’t, unable to take advice or do what others ask them to do, and being so emotionally impoverished that they need to damage the emotions of others. In time people may begin to notice what may be their true inner coldness and suspect that they may be lacking in the warmer and kinder emotions which most people possess.

Indeed their inability to what others request of them can seem to be an invitation to “DO THE OPPOSITE”, so colleagues learn to “ASK THEM THE OPPOSITE” of what they want them to do and first BELIEVE THE OPPOSITE of much of what they say or assert, as this may be closer to “reality” or “the truth” in any matter.

The reality about those who seem to live a different reality from everyone else, is that their need to feel good from making others feel worse 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, which may say far more about the true character of the leader than the followers.

Being rude, crude, arrogant, critical, disparaging and generally discouraging to others may give “Destructive Leaders” some personal satisfaction, but is unlikely to endear themselves to those they lead, nor inspire them to either want to “follow their leader” nor produce anything close to their best or their true potential, “which “Constructive Leaders” excel at and accept as being one of their many leadership responsibilities, creating an environment or “culture” in which people really look forward to coming in to work and “giving it their best shot” knowing that their contribution is respected and appreciated by those who consistently praise and encourage people who they know are trying their best.

This is in stark contrast to those who find it impossible to praise (yet seek it for themselves) but are experts at many forms of disrespect and criticism (even if they cannot cope with an iota of this when directed at them).

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.

There may be something “wrong” in those who see nothing “wrong” with wanting to make others feel bad, quite the opposite of what society expects of anyone in any form of supervisory role. Of course people who are not performing well may need to be so informed. Yet psychologists and “Emotional Intelligence” experts would suggest this be handled “constructively” rather than in a demeaning and  “destructive” manner.

The “elephant in the room” in such cases may well be that it is the rude, arrogant, inappropriate and discouraging behaviour associated with “Destructive Leaders” (especially when they show little or no appreciation to or real interest in those they manage or lead), which leads to “sub-par” performance in those capable of far better (the highlight of whose – excessively long – working day could be going home after an arduous and patience-testing experience), something the most self-centred may be incapable of appreciating for themselves, even when this is pointed out to them.

Yet far too many people who innately disrespect, discourage and demotivate rather than respect, encourage and motivate others are promoted to or hired for positions of responsibility in organisations throughout global society, with inevitable consequences.

Those who appointed them were perhaps misled by some combination of their (apparent) Intelligence, Charm and Eloquence, even if these transpire (like their emotional depth) to be both shallow and insincere, especially when they can seem to be happy making others unhappy, speak well to their “superiors” (or at least those more senior in position) and badly to those unfortunate enough to work for them, who they may actually perceive to be their “inferiors”.

Global society would be far safer, secure, pleasant, harmonious, cooperative and peaceful if it better appreciated that smart leadership requires far more than smart words, notably when it may be apparent to those led that there may be a fundamental disconnect between the words, actions, emotions and indeed the reality inhabited by “Disordered Leaders” who practice “Destructive Leadership”.

With some people seeming to derive pleasure from diminishing the confidence and harming the emotions of others, society nevertheless continues to elect such people to managerial and even leadership positions, although not only counterproductive and maybe even divisive, but quite the opposite of what is expected of people holding such positions throughout society.

In due course it may become apparent to close insiders that ultimately the primary and perhaps exclusive interest of “Disordered Leaders” is in themselves and satisfying their own needs, even if this runs contrary to those of colleagues or may not be in the best interest of the organisation which employs them.

Have you ever noticed how you can’t tell a selfish person they are selfish, as they just can’t seem to be able to see this for themselves? Even when informed of their “selfish streak” by exasperated and maybe concerned others (even with the best of intentions), they fail to grasp the real significance.

They are who they are and behave the way they always have done – prioritising themselves and predominantly considering matters from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?”

Likewise it can be as impossible to explain to someone lacking in empathy and emotional depth, because they cannot properly appreciate something they have never had, especially when this involves aspects of kindness, compassion, sympathy and the warm feelings most can experience from saying or doing something which brings a smile to the face of another.

They are who they are and behave the way they always have done – treating others with disrespect varying from a lack of appreciation for their efforts to outright humiliation, as ultimately other people just aren’t that important at all and their interests and needs are irrelevant.

Yet these two factors – an innate self-centredness and a lack of warm emotions – with other related traits, notably huge self-belief and supreme confidence bordering on arrogance, whether warranted or not, can determine the nature of the workplaces they manage or lead and whether the “culture” is warmly hospitable, welcoming, harmonious, cooperative and encouraging or coldly discouraging, competitive, combative and even hostile, quite the opposite of what is expected of those in positions of authority – motivating people to perform well both individually and collectively and collaborate towards achieving group or organisational goals, usually by way of excelling at servicing those the entity was established to serve and indeed prioritise, not themselves and their insatiable self-interest.

These are amongst the reasons why the personality of leaders is important, with organisations better served by GIVERS “more interested in others than themselves” than TAKERS “more interested in themselves than others.”

In due course, however, it may become more apparent that no matter how well they succeed at masking their true tendencies, perhaps fooling most of the people most of the time, TAKERS are fundamentally not only solely interested in themselves, but incapable of showing a genuine interest in anyone else.

Other people exist to be used, abused and dismissed when they have served their purpose of being useful to the most self-centred, or have dared disagree with them, or just held a different opinion on any matter, when they can be mercilessly disparaged, slandered and have their good name damaged (described by psychologists as a “borderline distortion campaign” or “psychopathic character assassination”) by those lacking many of the more admirable character traits themselves, apparent to almost everyone except themselves.

Given that TAKERS can be expert actors, this “discovery” of their true selfishness, disinterest in others, penchant for conflict and trouble, and maybe even cruelty, is usually made too late, especially when they take self-centred decisions rather those in the best interests of the entity they mis-lead and in so doing may do more harm than good.

When they adversely alter the strategic direction and disrupt operational harmony, perhaps ignoring the advice of colleages, they may threaten the success or even survival of the group at large and may even need to be seen as a “VIABILITY LIABILITY”.

Even after their organisation has collapsed, with many people’s lives adversely affected, such cold and mean-hearted people can still wonder what they did wrong, immune to the consequences of their mal-leadership and untroubled by the trouble they have caused, which they may even enjoy.

This makes it all the more imperative that they are identified in advance by responsible others and denied the opportunity to demotivate people and damage relationships, rather than respect, encourage and motivate people and (at minimum) safely and successfully lead organisations in the right direction.

They can often be Intelligent, Charming and Eloquent, but eventually their intelligence can transpire to be misused when seen to prioritise achieving personal goals, their Charm like their emotions can be seen to be shallow and insincere, and their Eloquence be seen to be just that – smart words with no real connection with actions (past, present or future) – nor with any actual intention to do what they say they will, with commitments and promises quite meaningless and just as likely to change within the hour as their opinions, commands, whims and recollection of situations when these differ from others present.

This can leave almost everyone else quite confused and not knowing who or what to believe, until they gradually begin to realise how deceitful and manipulative such challenging people can be.

They are only interested in others while they believe they may be of use to them, especially while they may serve a purpose of contributing to their satisfying their primary goals of “getting their own way” and “winning at all costs”, totally inconsiderate of the consequences for other people, the organisation which employs them and (extraordinarily) even themselves, such is the degree of their impulsivity and inability to take the advice of others, which they may prefer to do the opposite of, nor weigh up what may be the right or wrong thing to do in situations, especially when their self-interest may be challenged, with their level of “moral reasoning” and indeed other aspects of their behaviour likened to that of primary school children.

They are always right and everyone else wrong. Indeed this can sometimes appear to be the limit of their sense of right and wrong, especially when they seem to be incapable of learning from their prior experiences, notably their mistakes, which they thus keep repeating. Groundhog Day Everyday.

Indeed there must be something wrong with those lacking a sense of wrong.

This makes it all the more wrong to trust them with positions of responsibility, especially those which may require ethical judgement, including postponing the opportunity for short-term gain when this may result in longer-term pain such as eroded trust and damaged reputation, recognised by Socrates and likened to a fire – far easier to keep lit than try to relight when permitted to be extinguished.

They can be expert criticisers, blaming everyone and anything else for their own failings,  but cannot take an iota of criticism without a significant and perhaps even volcanic overreaction.

Being “emotionally labile” (or moody), everyone else learns to avoid being critical of them and “walk on eggshells” in their presence.

They can be cold, mean-hearted and ruth-less (sympathy-free) and seem to lack the ability to understand other people in an emotional manner. Although they believe they can, they can’t and probably never will, failing to appreciate they have little or no (emotional) empathy, not realising they lack something they have never possessed, like a conscience, which may explain some of their deeply unconscionable behaviour.

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

They seek pity for themselves, especially when they believe others are “out to get them”, indeed can behave in quite a pitiful manner (apparent to everyone except themselves), yet are incapable of showing concern for or sympathy to others, even when most appropriate and required.

They may even be at their happiest when making others unhappy and can be unhappy seeing others happy, so they can derive pleasure from disturbing harmony and can thrive in damaging the reputation of those who have done no wrong at all nor to them.

They can hold grudges and hate other people for little or no apparent reason, then be incapable of apologising when their many forms of manipulation and deceit are “found out”.

They seem to enjoy lying, see matters quite differently from others and may even be incapable of differentiating between fact and fiction.

They don’t say “sorry”, not only “too proud” but because they feel no remorse or guilt for words and actions which others couldn’t even contemplate.

They struggle to genuinely praise people, even for considerable achievements, instead can find some opportunity for critique, yet  can constantly seek praise for themselves. When not being praised by others they can engage in considerable self-praise, so everyone else learns to praise them even when this may be totally unwarranted and quite inappropriate.

An Irish wit laughs saying they were born with extra-long arms so they can clap themselves on the back, although for those who have to deal with them, this is no laughing matter.

These are the kind of traits associated with a variety of “Personality Disorders”.

Extraordinarily these are also the kind of people global society chooses to lead other people and organisations, although incapable of kindness.

Such “destructive” people are far too often trusted with positions of responsibility throughout international society, although both deeply untrustworthy and highly irresponsible, given their penchant for troublemaking, conflict, many forms of disharmony and damaging rather than developing relationships.

When will we learn?

Getting to understand such challenging people does permit others to:

(a) deal differently with them and adapt their own behaviour to diminish the harm they can do,

(b) identify them in advance to deny them the positions of power they can only abuse and will prioritise maintaining, no matter the cost to others or the organisation (or nation) they mis-lead, and

(c) make them appreciate almost everyone else, especially those “Constructive Leaders” with a genuine interest in other people and the entity they responsibly lead, whose pride is derived not from speaking of themselves and taking credit for the achievements of others, rather praising, encouraging and motivating “their people” to want to perform well and achieve the goals of the group or entity, deflecting credit for achievements to others yet accepting responsibility for their mistakes (which they own up to rather than try to cover up), while taking rational and “constructive” decisions likely to benefit both the entity and as many stakeholders as possible (not just in the short term), thus creating an admirable and progressive “culture”, building trust and enhancing reputation, all of which they take in their stride.

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” who practice “Destructive Leadership” 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”.

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 52 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 and slander 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”.

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 already mentioned, 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.

There is no humiliation in humility nor any humility associated with humiliation.

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, (associated with a variety of Personality Disorders), they seek pity for themselves (suggestive of Psychopathy) 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 psychaitrists, psychologists and sociologists (such as McCord and McCord) in many respects liken them to primary school children, those that know them best are not at all surprised, given that so much of their adult behaviour can seem to be 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 limitations prevents, prohibits or limits 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 is extraordinary 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.

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?

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?

Yet extraordinarily we trust amongst 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.

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”?

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 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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Mark Twain apparently observed that:

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

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.

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

“Isn’t a draw when both teams win”?

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.

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.

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 amongst 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.

The steps the rest of society needs to take to protect itself from “Disordered Leaders” include:

1. Identify these abnormal people, by way of their own “Destructive Leadership” behaviour, as being different from the norm,
2. Stop them achieving positions of influence & responsibility throughout global society, or if already in situ
3. Learn how to behave differently towards them (“denying narcissistic supply”),
4. Adapt to (not) respond to their sometimes extraordinary actions & reactions (evident due to their “maladaptive” inflexibility), to
5. Minimise the damage & havoc they will inevitably create and preferably replace them with far more responsible people who do meet the “Constructive Leadership” criteria, knowing they will “do whatever it takes” and go to any lengths to maintain the power they should never have been trusted with in the first place.

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.

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.

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.

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 those who have been disparaged and maybe even had their good name quite fictitiously slandered and character assassinated by TAKERS (lacking many of the more admirable character traits themselves), manage to remain calm, silent and refrain from retaliation in any shape or form, nor hold grudges and maybe even keep being kind to their persecutor, while their critics become more and more vocal and their accusations even more incredible, meaning difficult to believe, other people can draw their own conclusions who is the person of real character.

Anyone can be kind to the kind, but those GIVERS who manage to be compassionate to those who take pleasure from cruelty may discover what a deeply satisfying experience this can be, especially when they deny the troublemaker the disharmony they seek, conflict they crave and trouble they thrive on.

Perhaps it is those with the ability to forgive (if not necessarily forget), build bridges, seek and find compromise, enhance relationships and restore trust when damaged who deserve  to be leaders of both people and organisations (and even nations), rather than those who hold grudges, desire revenge and seek retaliation against those may have done no wrong and whose only crime may have been to disagree with or stand up to the fear-inducing intimidation practiced by those masquerading as “leaders”.

Society needs leaders expert at making others feel good about themselves and their contribution, not those who themselves feel good by way of making others feel bad.

Society needs leaders who give rather than take pleasure.

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 preferable to the improbability of cure.”

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

Julian Martin Clarke 2010-2021

Comments welcome to

jmcpsychresearch@gmail.com

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