It is an unfortunate but humorous fact that executives have a high rate of psychopathology. It is something to bear in mind when you deal with them. Studies show that at least 10% are nasty: liars, cheats, bullies, assholes, jerks, sociopaths, and psychopaths. Google it. There are actually people who study this. Nasty people have a better chance of being promoted, so the pathology increases as you go up the chain. About 4% of CEOs are psychopaths. This compares to about 0.5% of the general population and 15-25% of prison inmates. You can question these figures, for sure. It's hard to make accurate psychiatric diagnoses (the worst at making diagnoses are psychiatrists).
People, especially psychiatrists, have a cognitive bias that they are good at detecting character traits by interviews alone. Studies show this belief is not true. It's a delusion. No one is good at detecting nasty people by impressions alone. This is not just because people in general are gullible, it is also because nasty people have camouflage. They excel at creating good impressions. The first inkling you have that you are dealing with a nasty person may be too late.
Do not despair. You can arrange the environment to your advantage and minimize risk. You don't have to suspect each and every executive. Up to 90% DO NOT have a major classifiable personality disorder.
Here are some ideas:
- Don't go by impressions. Does what they say make sense? Does what they do match what they say?
- Make sure your interests are aligned.
- Don't cede control to a psychopath.
- These people go for the quick score: so choose long term projects or, if you pick a short term project, pick one you can monitor closely.
- It is a common pattern to make a score, cool the mark out, and make a score again. So, once burned be careful not to be a victim again.
Thanks and have a great day,