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“A psychopath is not a professional. You can’t work with a psychopath, ’cause ya don’t know what those sick assholes are gonna do next.”

– Harvey Keitel explaining why you shouldn’t work with psychopaths from the movie Reservoir Dogs.

Psychopaths do not make good colleagues. They make worse bosses.

In Bosses behaving badly Jeanne-Vida Douglas writes about corporate psychopaths. They are rare. Only one or two percent of the population are psychopaths.

Yet they exist. There’s a chance you’ll meet one in your career.

The best thing to do if you find yourself working for a psychopath is to find another job. While that’s not always easy, you may as well accept you’ll be out of the job sooner or later anyway because of the crazy behaviour

So get out fast with as much pride, integrity and sanity as you can salvage.

Douglas provides a check list to help recognise when a manager is a monster:

How to spot a psychopath boss

  • Lack of recognition of others in projects or achievements.
  • A sudden increase in absenteeism or illness in a particular division.
  • Attempts to isolate team members from each other and from other senior staff.
  • High staff turnover in a particular branch or division.
  • Constant questioning of others’ behaviour or capabilities either openly or privately.
  • A lack of respect for the intelligence or capabilities of others.
  • Obsession with gaining power over others.
  • Irrational requests, aggressive outbursts and rapid changes in demeanour.

2 thoughts on “How to spot a psychopath boss

  1. If you add the article below from Dr Burch from Auckland, you will see how much value and merit there is your article. You are essentially right about workplace bullying where extreme individuals with a high repeat rate at some one in ten are really “psychopaths”. Well done for bringing this article to my attention too. In the world of law and recruitment and self care, these articles are invaluable.

    Dr Burch said his research shows psychopaths created “toxic workplaces” with bullying, manipulation, sexual harassment, lying and fiddling the books.

    “We all come across people at work from time to time who are difficult, devious and troublesome,” Dr Burch said.

    Dr Burch said most people with personalities generally fitting under the ‘psychopathic umbrella’ do not commit obvious crime and are not imprisoned or hospitalised, but function within normal society – often with apparent success and the respect of their bosses.

    However, workplace psychopaths are generally highly destructive and manipulative individuals with “dark sides” who have no remorse for their actions, which can result in a range of serious issues for organisations and the people within them, Dr Burch says.

    And they’re making you ill, he said.

    Victims suffered insomnia, depression, were more prone to heart attacks could even be traumatised to the point of suicide.

    “Unrelenting stress from a toxic workplace causes anxiety and clinical depression in 30 percent of female and 20 percent of male targets, according to international research. The risk of cardiovascular disease is 30 percent more likely when workers believe their workplace is unjust….”

    Best Regards,


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