5 Dec 2011

British study has the goods on corporate execs

This is one of those stories you will never read in The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business.
The mainstream media and anyone associated with the business community refer to the heads of powerful corporations as, “captains of industry”, “mega-moguls”, and “bold, brilliant entrepreneurs.”

But what are these so-called business “leaders” really like?
In Britain, a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading businesses. Authors Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon compared the results with the same tests on patients at Broadmoor hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated.

On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses' scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients, says the study. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

Journalist George Memboit has the whole story in The Guardian:
“The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people.

“Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.”

Whoa! Look around the Canadian corporate community. While the descriptions do not apply to all “executives” at “the top of their game”, this sure makes for interesting conversation around the water cooler.

The study reminds me of a story told to me by a female executive working in the advertising business in Toronto. Company management wanted to stress the need for staff to do a better job competing with one particular company. In mixed company, with a couple of dozen people in the room, the CEO gave an impassioned, rah-rah speech, ending with: “We need to show them that our dick is bigger than their dick!”

Perhaps before anyone is permitted to become head of a giant company – with the power to wipe out thousands of jobs or merge with another firm and walk away with millions in a bonus – they should be required to pass psychological tests.

I have barely touched on the interesting information Memboit’s column. Please have a read....


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JABS AND LEFT HOOKS: As expected, the first NDP leaders’ debate Sunday was a bit of a yawn. Thomas Mulcair seemed to be most at ease, but his comment that “no one would object to tapping the tar sands” needs to be explained. Peggy Nash was strong on policy and appeared to be at ease. Brian Topp was not impressive and needs to work hard on his presentation.  The pleasant surprise was Niki Ashton. . . . So the NDP contest can focus on serious debate among serious contenders, three or four weak candidates should drop by the wayside in the New Year . . . . I saw so-called journalist Stefan Baranski, who heads something called Ontario Newswatch, on CBC-TV’s all-news channel Sunday political panel for the first time this week. Baranski is another of the many environmental destruction denialists. He defended Harper’s environmental record and calmly chimed in that the Kyoto Protocol was useless, totally discrediting himself as a trustworthy journalist. . . . . I checked out the Ontario Newswatch website – an awful lot of old provincial Tory political hacks among its guest contributors.  Hmmm . . .  I wonder who pays the bills?


  1. Timely. Monbiot's 7 Nov 2011 column is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers .

  2. You can also read Monbiot at his own website:

    Pretty sure test results for our fearless leader, S.H., and his trusty sidekicks, would likewise be scary.

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