Psychopath or Sociopath? Personality and Leadership

The influence of personality in organisational management is an undeveloped area.

The business model may look great on paper. But businesses aren’t run by paper – they’re run by flesh and blood people. And the sort of people they are affects everything.

So is your boss a psychopath or a sociopath? And what would be the difference?

Mike Lehr offers this distinction: ‘Psychopaths are about power and sociopaths about people.’

Psychopaths, he’d say, view people more objectively.

‘How does this person affect my power?’ they ask. And they can be friendly if they believe you enhance their power.

If you don’t, you’re either expendable or threatening. And since psychopaths are paranoid, it won’t take much for you to threaten them.

Sociopaths are different; they view people more relationally.

‘How does this person please me?’ they ask. And if they like you, they will bring you under their complete control.

If they dislike you, however – that is, if you don’t allow them to control you – they’ll enjoy harming you.

In fact sociopaths take so much pleasure from this that they’ll even risk their own power interests in pursuit of your destruction.

If psychopaths hurt people, it’s a non-event inside themselves, unrelated to emotions or feelings.

For sociopaths, it’s an enjoyable activity, a particular pleasure.

So while psychopaths won’t lose sleep over sacking someone, sociopaths may lose sleep from the excitement.

But with the deeds done, neither suffers remorse or guilt… and both are devoid of empathy.

Recognise anyone here?

Of course, your boss may be nothing but brilliant