Approximately one per cent of humans are psychopaths. However, many studies over the years have shown that three per cent or more of corporate leaders are psychopaths. One 2016 study reported that the rate could be much higher. The study of 261 corporate professionals in the supply chain management industry showed an extremely high prevalence of psychopathy, with 21 per cent of participants found to have clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. 21 per cent is a rate similar to prison populations.
There are a range of psychopathic traits but an overall description would be that psychopaths are predators. The psychopaths that we hear about the most are violent criminals, murderers and rapists. However, no more than ten per cent of psychopaths act on their violent impulses, the rest operate openly in society and arguably do much more damage than serial killers, mass murderers and the like. Corporations promote leaders with traits like fearlessness, boldness, assertiveness and confidence. However, these traits are common in psychopaths and in the extreme would be called reckless, callous, manipulative and brazen.
In a large corporation, a psychopath can do an enormous amount of harm. A psychopath’s raison d’etre is to take advantage of people, and they do this without compunction or remorse. Psychopaths are extremely manipulative. They see themselves as unrestricted by rules or laws. Morals and ethics mean nothing to them. Human lives are something to prey upon in their own chosen way, and they have absolutely no regrets about what they do. They would make any workplace they are in more toxic because pathology breeds pathology. A corporate predator would take advantage of others to get into a position of power within the organisation. He would also take advantage of customers, suppliers, partners and staff to get his way.
There is something about corporations that make them attract psychopaths. Corporations as a whole often act in psychopathic ways so it’s really no surprise to hear that they are full of psychopaths. Corporations manipulate staff, suppliers, customers and partners to get their way. Corporations crush competitors or simply swallow them up. Corporations have always tried to get away with anything and everything if they can. They not only try to circumvent laws, but there is a long history of corporations trying to influence and control laws and the law-making process.
Instead of corporations, the ideal business is small and local. If the majority of businesses were small and local then psychopathic leaders would have much less scope to do damage.