Assessing psychopathy in the workplace – the B Scan will be available in February 2004

Professor Robert Hare a Canadian expert in the assessment of psychopathy gave a talk entitled ”snakes in suits – when psychopaths go to work” to a packed lecture theatre in Cardiff last week, reported Joanna Hill-Tout from the BBC whose full article can be found on the BBC website under the title The Psychopaths in Suits

In this article, Joanna summarises Robert Hare’s brief guidelines for identifying psychopaths in the workplace as follows:-

How to spot a ‘snake in a suit’ in your office
They are manipulative
They lack specific goals
They have superficial relations with people
They are impulsive
They are irresponsible
They crave power and prestige
They lack empathy
They lack remorse
They lie easily
They have predatory instincts
They are cool under pressure
They seek excitement and thrills
They take credit for the work of others
They fly into rages

Professor Hare argues that psychopathic tendencies in the workplace may be associated with serious anti-social behaviours that are very damaging, but does also note that in some business environments, like the used car industry, some of these traits may be perceived as being desirable to organisations.

Whilst some people may consider these traits to be useful in certain contexts, for organisations (including those in the used car industry) that are values driven and committed to long-term sustainable success, it is important to select and develop leaders whose needs for power and achievement are balanced with empathy and personal integrity.

An assessment tool developed by Professor Hare called the Business Scan (B Scan) to provide a reliable means of measuring psychopathic tendencies within organisations will be available in the UK from February 2004. This tool can be used as part of a broader assessment process within organisations either before ‘high potential’employees are promoted to leadership roles or large investments in their development made through interventions like Executive Coaching

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Is your boss a corporate psycho