Bill Bennett


How to spot a psychopath boss

“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 (no longer online) 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 good 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. Quit your job 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.