Study Suggests 1 in 5 CEOs Have Psychopathic Tendencies

For many businesses to grow and flourish, sometimes a cold and calculated mind is needed to lead. Now, there is a difference between having a strategic and tactical mind in business endeavors and scoring hits on the psychopathy spectrum. However, evidence suggests that the percentage of executives and CEOs who are on this spectrum is much higher than in the general population and closer to the percentage of prison inmates.

A study presents evidence which claims that 1 in 5 executives in the private sector have psychopathic tendencies. The same is true for many CEOs in Silicon Valley’s booming technology companies. Some heads of these companies lack a fair amount of human compassion, just like the technology they peddle.

However, this article is not meant to cast CEOs in a poor or murderous light. Too often we hear “psychopath” and immediately picture Christian Bale running down the hallway with a chainsaw naked and bloody. I would argue that starting a business, especially in the extremely competitive tech sector almost requires that you think differently than most people. Please understand, my focus here is on corporate psychopathy, not murderers.

Success in large scale businesses requires a wide variety of skills, ranging from logistical considerations to marketing strategies, to customer service. CEOs have to own those while also making contacts, creating business strategies, and keeping the entire company within their line of vision. Here is why a psychopath would make the ideal CEO for a company solely focused on total success.

Psychopaths generally are extremely like able. They are charming, intelligent, and know how to game human emotions and feelings. This allows them to get on good sides, solidify crucial contacts, and grow the company by expanding its network of influence. Being able to tell people what they want to hear in a way that appears genuine is an incredibly useful business tool. The value of a mind and body that can do this becomes readily apparent.

At the same time, psychopaths are only putting on that mask for those instances. Generally they lack empathy and do not experience emotions in the same way that the vast majority of the world does. This means when hard decisions come up, like firing a large number of people to improve profits or to even just keep the company going, a psychopath will not hesitate to pull the trigger. Sometimes what a company needs is different than what employees need, and a psychopath is more readily able to distinguish those two.

While psychopaths may not make the best co-workers or friends, it would appear that they do make sense sometimes in the roles of a CEO. I would also argue that running a business is a far more socially healthy way of fulfilling the goals that a psychopathic mindset requires. We also need an aggressive technology sector to advance our knowledge and collective lives further. Perhaps having psychopathic CEOs in Silicon Valley fighting it out between each other via their various companies accomplishes just that.

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