Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Psychopathic Qualities You Need to be Corporate Leader

I have an interest in psychology. I read up anything on the subject I can lay my hands on. Recently the Hindu published an article that dealt with a psychic disorder which has spawned both novels and movies – the psychopathic syndrome.

The article approaches the problem taking Vito Corleaone, the famous Godfather character crafted by Mario Puzo, as an example to explain a special branch of psychic disorder: socially-enabled psychopath(y).

The article says a socially-enabled psychopath is very different from a conventional psychopath. A socially-enabled psychopath possesses many traits that make the person desirable.

An ordinary psychopath, the articles observes, suffers from social and emotional deficiencies. He fails to understand others’ mood and social cues in their correct context and acts in an inappropriate way. The psychopath also shows poor understanding of others’ emotions, and although he doesn’t lack emotions himself, he feels emotions so fleetingly that they fail to have any impact on how he perceives others.

The inability to gauge others’ emotions leads to the failure to understand how much aggression is required to coerce a subject into submission to achieve the desired goal; which results in display of excessive aggression by the psychopath.

A psychopath also has other personality traits like lack of sense of responsibility, a tendency to unnecessarily lie and propensity to attribute wrongs committed by him to a goal without any feeling of remorse, and judge right and wrong from an unconventional standpoint. (Honestly, I have some of these characteristics – expect I don’t lie unnecessarily.)

But how the socially-enabled psychopath is different from a prototype psychopath?

The article says both are same – they are psychopaths (to be a socially-enabled psychopath, you have to be a psychopath first) - and then talks about the differences.

First, citing Godfather Vito Corleaone as a case in point, the author looks at the Don’s actions in the book to deduce common psychopathic signs (not the socially-enabled ones).

The author says, “The primary (psychopathic) quality the Godfather possesses is the ability to be ruthless in achieving his own ends. The second psychopathic quality the Godfather exudes is a distorted reality of the impact of his actions; not in line with traditional views and beliefs, nor particularly empathetic. The third and the most striking trait the Godfather possesses is his ability to manipulate people and situations.”

But it’s not the similarities but the differences that make the Godfather, or the socially enabled psychopath, a successful leader in the world of corporations.

The Godfather seldom looses control over his emotions (not for him the psychotic hysteria so commonly seen in Hindi movies). He is a sensitive person who takes offence very easily and is perceptive of others’ mood. His ability to sense social and environmental cues is very advanced, unlike the usual psychopath.

A cool head, the ability to understand people (which helps manipulate them if necessary) and the intensity to chase a goal with psychopathic zeal make a socially-enabled psychopath a perfect leader, the article argues.

After all, isn’t effective leadership in a corporation about helping people and organizations achieve goals they set for themselves – placing the goals above concerns of ethics and morals?

I only have one question to ask the author – Dr Ennapadam S. Krisnamoorthy. Isn’t the socially-enabled psychopath too good to be true? Or did Mario Puzo know a thing or two about psychiatry?


Mark said...

a very robust and good article indeed ! good food for thought ! To answer your question to the good doctor who published the article in the Hindu...check out the character Dr Lecter in the Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris. Sometimes when I look back in history, most great leaders have sacrificed lots of lives to justify the end goal...wonder if this is the recipe to achieve success

indrablog said...

Hi Mark,
Yes, I agree with you - you can see the kill-if-you-need trait in many big personalities in history. Thanks for visiting.


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