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Master of Business Administration (MBA)

School of Business and Law

People and Organisations


Unit 6 Understanding Others:

Motivation and Difficult People


Table of Contents
Learning objectives
Difference: Perception, Attitudes an d Values
Differene: Personality
Motivation: Understanding Others
Categories of motivation theories
The Ethics of Motivation
Dificult People
Corporate Psychopaths
Why are Corporate Psychopaths succesful
Related Competencies
Required Readings
Journal Readings

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This unit introduces students to some of the more significant individual differences
including perceptions, attitudes, values, and personality. The implications and
challenges associated with managing these individual differences are examined and
discussed As identified by Quinn et al. (2015) to be successful managers and
mentors, managers must have some understanding of themselves and others, This
underlines the importance of having completed Leadership and Governance and the
Critical Thinking courses in the MBA that focus on understanding the self and the
use of reflection as a method of gaining greater insights.

Learning objectives
This unit has the following learning objectives:
a sound knowledge of differences in perceptions, attitudes, values, and

an understanding of the behavioural and workplace implications of key

individual differences

Identification of the corporate psychopath and the difficulty of working with

or managing these people

Identification of the critical competencies associated with people with

different personalities, from different cultures and of different gender.

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Organizations bring together a range of individuals with attitudinal differences, different
ways of perceiving their environment, different value systems, and different personality
types. As a manager you need to understand that how you see the world and the how
and why you respond to issues and events will not necessarily be the same for others. As
Quinn et al. (2015) suggest, although people working together have something in
common, each is also unique. People differ in their feelings, attitudes and values; they
also differ in their needs and perceptions of rewards.

Organisations bring together a range of individuals with attitudinal differences, different

ways of perceiving their environment, different value systems, and different personality
types. These individual differences impact significantly upon the way in which people
behave within organizations. Ultimately, differences in perceptions, attitudes, values
and personality have a major impact upon the level and quality of their work
performance. As such, they provide a major challenge to managers who seek to
influence the behaviour of employees and harness their full potential.
The ultimate value to managers of developing a clearer understanding of individual
differences is to enhance their ability to predict individual behaviour and performance
in an organisational context, and to have a positive influence on these variables.

Looking at your experience with different age groups such as Gen Y, Gen X, different
cultures etc., do you consider that individual differences are likely to be more or less
significant in the current business environment when compared with a decade ago?
Think through and try to identify reasons for your view- not just a yes or no answer!

Difference: Perception, Attitudes and Values

The old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder highlights the importance
and significance of perception. In fact, most other characteristics that we attribute
to people, events and the world around us, are also in the eye of the beholder. We
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dont see reality, we interpret what we see and call it reality. These interpretations
or perceptions have a fundamental influence on the way in which we behave.
Attitudes also have a major impact on the way in which people behave.
Furthermore, many attitudes impact directly on work-related issues and are a
major determinant of the performance of individuals in the workplace. Values also
differ between people and impact directly on individual behaviour.

Possibly one of the most enduring types of individual difference relates to values.
Moreover, values can relate to organizations as well as individuals. Successful
organizations often make a conscious effort to develop and transmit their own
identifiable set of values.
It is important for organizations not to assume that new or existing organisational
members will necessarily share the values that the organization regards as
necessary or desirable. In fact, the values of individual employees will have
developed over a period of decades. Hence, in the absence of appropriate
selection strategies, its highly likely that there will eventually be a mismatch
between the value systems of employees and the organization. Moreover, a
mismatch in this regard may be just as damaging in terms of employee satisfaction
and performance as an ability-job mismatch.

Values ultimately influence a range of work-related attitudes including job

satisfaction. However, as indicated in Chapter 1 and 8 of Carlopio and Andrawartha
(2012), and Bolman and Deals HR Frame, the job satisfaction of employees is also
influenced by a number of factors over which managers within the organization
have at least some degree of control.

The relationship that exists between the job satisfaction of employees and their
performance or contribution to organisational goals and objectives is a relatively
complex one. However, levels of job satisfaction have other important
organisational implications.

Difference: Personality
All individuals have different personalities, different ways of dealing with their
environment and their own unique approaches to coping with the day-to-day
vicissitudes of life. In an organisational context, the need to recognise and take
account of personality differences is essential to the development of high levels of
individual and organisational performance.

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Personality clearly represents one of the most important and fundamental

characteristics that distinguish people from one another. Accordingly, it impacts
significantly upon the way in which people behave both within and outside the
Robbins & Coulter, (2005) define personality as the unique
combination of psychological characteristics (measurable traits) that affect how a
person reacts and interacts with others.
There are three aspects that are said to constitute personality:
1. Psychological core: The fundamental attitudes, values, interests, motives, and
the self-image or self worth of a person
2. Typical responses: The way a person typically responds or changes their
behaviour in relation to changes in the environment
3.Role-related behaviour: The behaviour a person adopts in particular social

In what ways do you believe that your own personality has influenced
your behaviour at work? Think of times when the impact on work
performance has been positive and when it has been negative !

In trying to understand personality, we can identify numerous approaches that seek

to explain individual behaviour from different perspectives.
Psychodynamic Approach: Behavior is determined by a number of unconscious
constantly changing factors that often conflict with one another. Emphasis is
placed on understanding the person as a whole, rather than identifying isolated
Trait Approach: Behavior is determined by relatively stable traits that are
fundamental units of personality. These traits predispose one to act in a certain
way, regardless of the situation.
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Situational Approach: Behavior is determined largely by the situation or

Interactionist Approach: Behavior is determined by both the person and the
situational factors, as well as by their interaction.
As described by Quinn et al. (2015) perhaps the best known or most widely used
methods in management training and development are two psychodynamic
approaches, The Five Factor Model and the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, both based
on the work of Carl Jung.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment tool that
measures the personality of an individual using four categories:

Social interaction: Extrovert or Introvert (E or I)

Preference for gathering data: Sensing or Intuitive (S or N)
Preference for decision making: Feeling or Thinking (F or T)
Style of decision making: Perceptive or Judgmental (P or J)

A similar approach is the Five Factor Model seeks to identify personality from the
perspective of five variables:

Behaviours and type

Using examples, explain the behaviours that you believe would be associated
with each of the following personality dimensions:




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In this video the Myers Briggs personality type indicator is explained simply the
key aspects and how the 16 types can be useful to identify and explain
behaviours and differences.

There are other approaches to personality which managers should be aware of.
One of the most interesting is an attempt to link personality type to job
preferences. Holland identifies six personality types and proposes that the fit
between personality type and occupational environment determines
satisfaction and turnover. The six types are:
1. Realistic- these personalities prefer physical activities that require strength
thus choose jobs tat are more physically demanding
2. Investigative; these personalities prefer activities that require analysis and
understanding thus choose jobs that are more analytical in nature such as
mathematicians or economics
3. Social: these personalities prefer activities that enable interaction with
others, particularly supportive interactions, thus choose jobs that allow such
interactions such as social workers, teachers etc.
4. Conventional: these personalities prefer structured and orders activities and
contexts thus choose jobs such as accountancy, or public policy or perhaps
military careers
5. Enterprising: these personalities prefer verbal activities that allow them to
influence others thus choose careers such as law or politics, and lastly
6. Artistic: these personalities prefer unstructured or ambiguous activities that
allow creative expression, thus they pursue creative jobs such as artist,
musician, dancer, designer etc.
Many other models exist which can aid in understanding others. The key
readings will identify many of these approaches.

Motivation: Understanding what Drives Others

In an organisational context, few issues have received as much attention as
workplace motivation. According to Carlopio and Andrawartha (2012) motivation is
an inducement or an influence; it is the reason for moving or acting.

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Few questions generate more discussion or are more basic to every aspect of
human endeavor as to whether as managers we can actually motivate others or
influence others, or whether we simply create the context in which they can
motivate themselves? There is also an ethical dimension utilising such theories to
enhance individual performance. Is it right to use such techniques to increase the
productivity of individuals if they are not to also share in the rewards associated
with increased productivity.
Managers need to recognise that what inspires and motivates in some situations
may have little impact in others. The key to exacting maximum effort from some
individuals may have little, if any impact on others.
Over the last few decades a range of theories has been developed to explain the
concept of motivation and come to grips with the complexity of the motivation
process. Yet while the existence of individual differences in terms of needs,
motives and desires adds to the level of complexity, a sound knowledge of the
motivation theories available provides useful insights that can assist managers in
their efforts to motivate employees and provide them with a work environment
that enhances the overall level of productive effort. In this sense motivation is a
threshold competency or a form of conceptual knowledge

Categories of Motivation Theories.

There are three broad categories of motivation theories, each having slightly more
complex concepts than the other.
1. reinforcement theories: these emphasize the linkage between individual
behaviour and specific outcomes.
2. content theories: seek to understand the needs that drive behaviour and why
people have different needs at different times
3. process theories: concerned with describing the behaviour that is energised,
directed and maintained as a conscious rational cognitive process. They seek to
explain why someone with a particular need engages in a particular direction and
persistency in an effort to reduce need tension.

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Content or Needs Theories of Motivation

Perhaps one of the most popular and well-known theories of motivation is Maslows
Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Despite the lack of empirical evidence to support
Maslows theory, it has received wide recognition from practicing managers. A key
difference between the lower-order needs (physiological and safety) identified by
Maslow and the higher-order needs is the fact that lower-order needs are satisfied
externally while higher-order needs are satisfied internally
Other early theories of motivation include McGregors Theory X and Theory Y and
Herzbergs Two-Factor Theory. A common theme amongst all of these early theories
of motivation is the dichotomy between lower-order needs and higher-order needs,
as well as the associated assumptions that managers may make about employee
needs. However, these three theories of motivation differ in a number of quite
fundamental ways.
McClellands Theory of Needs also focuses on three needs achievement, power
and affiliation - but these needs are not structured into any hierarchy. Extensive
research has indicated that McClellands theory provides a reasonably accurate
basis for predicting success in particular occupations. Hence it would appear to
have important organisational implications, particularly in terms of recruitment
and selection.

Process Theories of Motivation

Process Theories of motivation differ from content in that they seek to describe the
ways (processes) by which the need deficiencies are translated into behaviour.
According to equity theory, discussed by Robbins et al. (2004, 182-184),
individuals compare their job inputs and outcomes with those of others and then
respond to eliminate any inequities. These responses may involve:

Changing inputs

Changing outcomes

Distorting perceptions of self

Distorting perceptions of others

Choosing a different referent


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Expectancy theory is one of the more practically-orientatedpractically

orientated theories of motivation. This theory simply holds that if
employees believe that extra effort will result in desired levels of
organisational performance that will ultimately lead to highlyvaluedhighly valued organisational rewards, thenand then theyll be
motivated to exert additional effort. It emphasizes individual perceptions
of the environment and subsequent interactions arising as a consequence
of personal expectations (Fudge and Schlacter, 1999)
The most attractive feature of this theory is that if a manager can
identify the source of a motivational problem (i.e. the effort-performance
relationship, sometimes referred to as expectancy, the performancereward relationship, sometimes referred to instrumentality, or the
rewards-personal goals relationship, sometimes referred to a valence), he
or she will have a sound basis upon which to develop motivational
Three components of Expectancy Theory

1 expectancy (E)- link between effort and performance

2. Instrumentality link between performance and reward

3. Valence (V)- the employees perception of the rewards value

According to Vroom, motivation can be expressed as

Motivation=E x I x V
Strategies that may be effective in motivating employees in one culture
may be ineffective in another. This has significant implications for
international organisationsorganizations. For example, most motivation
strategies that are applied in workplaces of the West are based on
theories of motivation that assume that people will be driven primarily to
satisfy individual needs. This individualistic approach to motivation
ignores the more group-orientated motives that are likely to characterise
the collectivist cultures that exist in most of Asia, as well as in other parts
of the world.

Equity suggests that individuals determine the level of performance relative to the
rewards obtained by those they view as colleagues.
It explains how people develop perceptions of fairness in the distribution of
rewards for effort.
Workplace development by J.Stacy Adams.
People gauge the fairness of their work outcomes in relation to
Perceived inequity occurs when there is an unfavorable social
comparison of work outcomes.
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When perceived inequity occurs, people will be motivated to remove

the discomfort.
Felt negative inequity.
Individual feels he/she has received relatively less than others
in proportion to work inputs.
Felt positive inequity.
Individual feels he/she has received relatively more than others
in proportion to work inputs.
Equity suggests that individuals determine the level of performance relative
to the rewards obtained by those they view as colleagues.
It explains how people develop perceptions of fairness in the distribution of
rewards for effort.

Self Regulatory Theory

Based on the research of Locke (1968) then later Bandura (1986) social learning
theory- essentially suggests individuals desire for increased knowledge or
demonstrable competency will provide drive, through self direction. McKenna
(1999) identified three components of self-regulatory theory

Self monitoring
Self evaluation and
Self reactions

An individual will perceive themselves as in control on not in control of their

destiny determined by a series of related environments. At a relatively broader
level cultural, political, economic systems etc., will affect peoples perception. A
second level (moderating the perception of the first) is the socio-economic/ethics
group to which the individual belongs. The institutions, which create and reinforce
the behaviours, represent the third and lastly the fourth is the primary group to
which the individual belongs.

The Ethics of Motivation

Equity theory clearly demonstrates the link between concepts of justice and
motivation.. Further links can be made to deontology and principles such as
autonomy and freedom and duty. These concepts were addressed in the MBA
foundation course BUSN 20134 Business Ethics and Sustainability
Using motivation theory to increase productivity- without the knowledge and
consent of those affected could be seen as violating rights of autonomy and
freedom as human beings
As motivational theories deal with psychological - the possibility of doing
psychological harm must be considered.
Managers as professionals- have a duty to act within the limits of their knowledge
and a broader duty of do no harm
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Emotional People and the Corporate Psychopath

Amongst the most difficult challenges we will face as employees and or managers is
working with and managing the difficult and angry person, particularly when
interdependence exists and cooperation is required. However, the most
disheartening of organisational experiences is working under the direction of
corporate psychopaths, narcissistic leaders and incompetent managers.
Unfortunately whilst there is significant literature about these individuals and how
to identify them and their characteristics, little is available about what to do when
they occupy management roles. What is known is the devastating impact they have
on others and the culture and productivity of organisations.

Types of Anger
According to Glomb (2002) there are two primary types of anger: state and trait.
We can describe state anger as a normally temporary emotional display ranging
from feelings of irritation to intense rage, physiological and cognitive reactions,
behavioural tendencies, and observable verbal and non-verbal communication
(Glomb, 2002). This type of anger is relatively specific- in response to an issue,
event, or person etc., and that the brevity is probably linked to a quick resolution.
By contrast, trait anger is a much longer-term situation. People in this state tend
to see situations or contextual factors as constant, thus promoting a close to
permanent state of anger, experiencing more and more frequent intense episodes
(Spielberger, 1999).

The Causes of Anger

Gibson and Callister (2010, p 68) summarise several approaches that enable us to
identify the primary causes of anger:

Acts by others perceived to be unjust, being attacked or treated unfairly by


Actions by others which obstruct or are designed to frustrate goaldirected behavior, all of which may evoke appraisals of responsibility for
wrongdoing by others, prompting feelings of anger, and

Interpersonal conflict which may have many causes including personality,

culture and values based (Spielberger, 1999; Weiner, 1995)

Booth and Mann (2004) provide a more detailed list of potential causes that expand
on these typologies including:

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Unjust treatment: Unjustly treated by another with the emphasis on

injustice and unfairness
Job Incompetence: Others behaving incompetently at work
Disrespect: Being overruled by a colleague. Arrogance or rudeness by
offender not only to respondent but also to others
Bad communication: Not being given important information; excluded from
meetings and lack of communication between depots and departments
Lack of support: Respondents feeling isolated. Not getting the back-up from
managers and colleagues
Being ignored: Having a request ignored. A general feeling that offender is
not listening to respondent or is being blatantly ignored
Mismanagement: Lack of good supervision; disorganisation; ignorance
Absence of recognition: Lack of acknowledgement; no rewards
Repetitive and ongoing problems; issues not dealt with
Powerlessness: Having no power to deal with a situation
Job insecurity: Organisational change; fear of redundancy
Lack of teamwork: Others not working as part of a team
Unprofessional behaviour: Others not acting in professional manner
Humiliation: Direct and public humiliation
Most would expect that anger is displayed through intense outbursts and at times
violent action; however, there are other characteristics that typify and sometimes
mask anger behaviour. Sometimes individuals suppress their anger through
emotional control. Similarly others display contrary emotions such as appearing to
be happy as a way of disguising their true feelings. In both cases the anger still
exists but is simply hidden from view.

Difficult People
There is a clear link between our emotions and the way in which we are disposed
to interacting with others- from enthusiastic engagement to behaviors that foster
less than cooperative interaction. It is these more problematic behaviors that
create difficulty for managers. Scott (2000) suggests that people respond to
different situation in different emotional ways. Some of the causes of these
emotions are similar to those described above- other causes might include lack of
interesting work, poor delegation on the managers part, a lack of power or
discretion or being frustrated by others. Similarly Wheeler (1994) suggests that
people may act in manner, which creates difficulty for a number of reasons
Poor self image
Lack of self-confidence
Power Issues
Mental Health Problems

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Corporate Psychopaths and Narcissists

Psychopathy has generally been studied from a psychological perspective examining

the stereotypical offenders and criminal activities we associate with psychopaths,
however, the emergence of managers and leaders with narcissistic characteristics
have lead to an increased attention to the possibility of psychopathic behaviours
being evidenced within organizations.
Babiak and Hare (2006) had applied psychological tests typically used to identify
psychopathic characteristics to managers and workers of organizations. They have
found that the modern organization can be havens for the corporate psychopath
or the psychopaths in a suit
Babiak and Hare (2006) suggest there are three main archetypes
1. The Con- the individual who deals one-on-one with individuals, exerting
influence in order to get something out of them.
2. The Bully- a person that uses intimidation- overt, covert, verbal
threats, at times physical violence.
3. The Puppetmaster: a successful manipulator who is extremely
knowledgeable about behaviour- they are able to get others to do their
dirty work- i.e. commit criminal activity, embezzlement, falsification
of documentation, lying to enquiries etc.
They suggest that of all the psychopaths in the workplace the Puppet Master
is considered the most dangerous!
Babiak and Hare (2006) suggest three basic perspectives that help identify and
understand the psychopathy in corporate contexts:
1. physiological drive for stimulation, characterised by impulsive
behaviour, primarily driven by thrill seeking
2. a need, or desire to engage in political game playing with people as
objects to be used- with a view to winning
3. they are immune or do not recognise the damage they do and at some
level might find it stimulating

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In this video Dr John Clarke dispels the myth that all psychopaths are violent
individuals. Rather he highlights that many are working in oirganisations and
use various techniques to destroy cultures and individuals.

Babiak (2004) describes a range of characteristics that assist managers in

identifying the presence of a corporate psychopath:

Insincere, arrogant, untrustworthy,

insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others,
shallow meaning the person seems not to have feelings and is
incapable of experiencing or understanding the feelings of
Tends to blame others for things that go wrong,
have low frustration tolerance and is therefore impatient with
Erratic, unreliable, unfocused, and is selfish, parasitic, they take
advantage of the goodwill of people they work with as well as
the company itself.

The Narcissist
Maccoby (2003) identifies yet another personality that's often found in the
managerial or leadership level: the narcissist, a concept explored in Leadership and
The Narcissist is often seen as less pathological than the psychopath and some
suggest that they can be beneficial to an organisation distinguishing between the
positive and negative narcissist. Maccoby (2003) suggests that the narcissistic
leader can generate positive outcomes for organisations because they typically
have a vision. They can be viewed as a grandiose egotist who has a mission to help
humanity in the abstract even though they often insensitive to the people (and
their feelings) around them.
Because the narcissists have a vision, which they can articulate extremely
effectively, they are able to attract admirers and followers. They enthusiasm can

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lead to increased innovation and creatively that benefits the organisation. However
the narcissist is also a poor listener and tends to react negatively to criticism. The
absence of empathy means that they also view people as simply means to an end.
Maccoby (2003) acknowledges that whilst narcissistic leader can generate positive
outcomes for organisations they can become destructive and this typically occurs
due to the lure of power- echoing Lord Acton often cited phrase
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are
almost always bad men.
Maccobys (2003) solution to this problem is to pair a productive narcissist with a
"productive obsessive," or conscientious, control-minded manager so as to achieve
a balance through synergy.

Why are Corporate Psychopaths successful?

Maccoby (2003) and Stout (2005) opine that psychopaths succeed in society and in
the business world because, initially, most people do not recognize that they are
significantly different from normal people. Deutschman, (2005) maintains
psychopaths succeed in society and in organisations largely because their
colleagues are unaware that people like this actually exist. We simply dont
recognize or believe that these people are as evil as they actually are. As Maccoby
(2003) suggests, the corporate psychopath or sociopath may lack empathy but they
have an element of emotional intelligence and in some cases have many of the EI
competencies. They also become adept as actors and actresses enabling them to
encourage others to empathise with them and also to produce the sort of
behaviours and language, particularly in selection interviews that make them
appear to be perfect candidates. They have the ability to see our emotions very
clearly and manipulate them.
We assume that they, too, care about other people's feelings. This makes it easier
for them to "play" us. Stout (2005) suggests that they make us believe that they
reciprocate our loyalty and friendship. Finally when the gestalt moment arrives
with the realization that they have been using us, we feel betrayed and foolish. By
this time they have had sufficient time to achieve their own goals and objectives,
whatever they might be.

Organizational Responses
The psychopath is adept at manipulation and this continues once they have been
appointed to an organization. As was discussed in the previous unit on managing
your manager- employees need to understand their managers and assist them. The
psychopath understands the power issues in hierarchical structures and manipulates
those in senior and executive roles by controlling information and ensuring that the
message they receive is a positive one. Eventually signs do emerge that problems
exist usually through internal grapevines, or more formal processes such as
grievance procedures.

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However, anecdotal information exists that rather than investigate and determine
the scope of the problem, the organisation often ignores or actually supports the
corporate psychopath and fails to address the damage that is being done resulting
in greater conflict and the destruction of productive cultures.
Segon (2012) and Toohey (2012) put forward several reasons why organisations take
this seemingly contradictory position of defending and supporting the psychopath.
Initially the psychopath manipulates information and provides a rosy picture so
executives would naturally support a manager who seems to be doing a good job.
As problems being to emerge the psychopath tends to focus on specific members of
their team, relaying information to the senior managers that these individuals are
not productive, are causing conflict and resisting the changes that the manager
(the psychopath) is seeking to introduce. The strategy is to prepare managers for
bad news but to lay the blame with others. Senior managers initially tend to
believe the manager and back them over the difficult and uncooperative staff
The acknowledgement that a mistake in appointing the psychopath is a difficult
undertaking- the admission of mia-culpa! Many postulate that loss of face is
primarily an eastern cultural characteristic, however it clearly exists in many
cultures in a variety of forms. However there is a more significant implication to be
considered. The appointment of an inappropriate and damaging individual is a fault
of those on the selection panel and of ineffective HR practices. Most likely the
psychopath reports to the very same people executives who appointed them.
As a consequence of this reluctance to admit fault, many managers choose a
strategy that will be discussed in the unit on conflict- avoidance! Some managers
take the rather blinkered view that if they ignore the problem it will eventually go
away! Unfortunately many real cases clearly highlight that this approach only
exacerbates the situation often giving the psychopath more time to inflict damage
on individuals and the organization.
Some organisations hide behind procedures and processes such as grievance,
internal and external investigations that can take months to conduct and often are
couched in limited terms of reference.
Lastly the organization, having realized the extent of the problem tries to minimize
the damage by moving the psychopath or exiting them quietly from the

Coping with the Corporate Psychopath

Hare (1994) notes that unless we identify psychopaths major problems will befall
individuals and organisations. Clarke (2005) suggests that the first step in managing
the corporate psychopath is to raise awareness in organisations that that these
people actually exist.
In terms of the strategies that organisations and individuals can use top manage or

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cope with psychopath, few strategies are advanced as effective once the
psychopath has entered the organisation. Hare (1999) says that psychopaths seek
power and that it is dangerous to engage in direct power struggles with them, as
they will seek to inflict emotional or physical harm on those who oppose them.
They often also have hierarchical or positional power, which they can use against
subordinates. Hare (1999) also suggests that a good strategy is to find safety in
numbers by identifying other victims, to form a group or coalition with them, as in
all likelihood, there will be many victims.
Hare (1996) and Clarke (2005) suggest minimizing exposure to psychopaths and
may ultimately be by leaving the organisation. Clarke (2005) advises leaving
organisation concerned as early as possible, as often by the time you blow
whistle on their behaviour your credibility will have been undermined and
may not be believed.


Some basic strategies fro coping and dealing with psychopaths include:

Build coalitions with others- there is safety in numbers and groups tend to
have more collective power. Senior managers are more likely to take notice
of employee concerns if 60-70 or 80% of the staff band together and
Identify the apprentices corporate psychopath often finds or appoint
willing apprentices, particularly the puppet master. It is important to
identify them and to assess their potential to cause you harm and distress.
Keep records and document- an identifiable trait of most psychopaths is
their unwillingness to leave formal documents. Keeping copies of emails,
memos and documenting the lack of response to requests etc is critical in
building evidence against the psychopath
Seek support within the organization- many large organizations may have
internal hotlines, reporting systems and perhaps ombuds who have a degree
of independence. It is important to establish that you and your colleagues
have been trying to deal with the issue according to organizational; policy
and procedures
Seek guidance from HR- most organizations will have grievance procedures
and processes for investigating claims of harassment. It should be noted that
anecdotal evidences suggest that these processes are somewhat slow and
often very legalistic in their interpretations of what is or is not harassment,
bullying or discrimination
Consult a lawyer- unfortunately evidence suggests that originations do not
handle these issues well and legal representation may be n important
strategy in forcing them to address the issue or perhaps seeking appropriate
levels of compensation or retributive justice.
Seek counseling or medical/health support- unfortunately the impact of a
psychopaths actions usually results in extremely stressful environment that
will adversely affect the health and safety of individuals. The ability to talk
with a qualified counselor can do much to alleviate stress and provide an
important outlet. Similarly a doctor may be necessary in more difficult
situations when it becomes difficult to function.
Leave- as suggested above, the ultimate solution to such situations is to

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leave. Whilst this does not have a significant impact on the organisation, it
may be the best option for individuals who are unable to cope with the
psychopaths targeted behavior.

Matejka, Dodd-McCue and Ashwood (2007) provide not dissimilar solutions in the
event of being unable manage and cope with these difficult managers and leaders:

Look for a respected mentor

Search for possible openings in other parts of the organization as an exit


Build relationships with desirable future managers

Become visible and exhibit expertise when these opportunities arise

Document your activities and personal encounters carefully- i.e. you may find
it necessary to prove your position

Think about going over the bosss head- VERY CAREFULLY!

Leave the organization

Prevention is the best strategy

Clearly the best strategy that organisations can adopt in managing corporate
psychopaths is to simply not employ them in the first place.
Organisations that appoint corporate psychopaths can usually identify a range of
errors in the selection and interview process that failed to recognize the tell tail
signs that are evidence in an individuals curriculum vitae or resume, and during
the interview.
Curriculum Vitaes and resumes need to be scrutinized and inconsistencies
identified. One of the most obvious characteristics of the career history of a
psychopath is that they tend to move on relatively quickly from post to post- on
average within 18-24 months. If such a history is evident HR should check with
previous employers- not the most recent but several to establish whether a
common view is held of the persons performance.
Investigate employment gaps and unsubstantiated claims. Psychopaths will be
reluctant to include employment that was not to their benefit. Similarly as
manipulators of the truth check to ensure their claims, i.e., of qualifications and
positions/titles are bona fide. If they are prepared to lie in their resume and CV,
most likely they will be untruthful in the interview and as an employee.
All organisations should consider is to review their selection procedures and train
managers and members of selection panels to identify these characteristics of the
corporate psychopath. One of these is relatively easy to identify- they tend to be
pathological liars, and one of the consequences of lying is that facts and stories can
be checked.

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Behavioral interviewing technique will also assist in identifying inconsistencies and

untruths. Similarly in-depth personal profiles and simple police reports can often
identify major problems with previous workplaces.

Related Competencies
As understanding personality and difference is seen as primarily conceptual in
nature the teaching faculty have identified a limited number of competencies
from across the four models that we consider critical in the understanding others.

Critical Competency 1: Social Abilities

Pedler et al. (2013) identify Social Abilities management as key competency
within the Level 2- Situation Specific Abilities and Response Tendencies. Clearly
understanding others and dealing with different personalities means we need to
engage with others and communicate with them.

Critical Competency 2: Empathy

Goleman et al. (2002) highlight that the ability to sense the feelings and
perspectives of others and taking an active interest in their concerns is a critical
competency called Empathy.

Critical Competency 3: Emotional Resilience

Pedler et al. (2001 Emotional Resilience competency which also which appears in
the Level 2 - Situation Specific Abilities and Response Tendencies group is
suggested as an important competency. Clearly dealing with different
personalities can be challenging. Having the ability to remain calm and in control
of emotions is an important aspect of maintaining rationality and thus making
better judgments.

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Required Reading
Reading 1
Carlopio J, & Andrewartha G. (2012) Developing Management Skills, 4th edn, Pearson,
Sydney. Chapter 2 & 6

It would be useful to revisit chapter 2 on understanding the self which also includes
sections on emotional intelligence, values and ethics. Chapter 6 provides a brief
introduction to a number of motivation theories whilst the bulk of the chapter
advances and integrated approach to motivation that incorporates aspects of
context, leadership and effective delegation.

Additional Reading
Reading 2
Quinn, Faerman, Thompson, McGrath & St. Bright, D. (2015). Becoming a Master
Manager: A competing values based approach, 6th edn, Wiley and Sons, Hoboken,
N.J. Modeule 3 pp 194-210.

Journal Readings
Journal Reading 1
Boddy C.R., (2015),"Organisational psychopaths: a ten year update", Management Decision,
Vol. 53 No. 10 pp. 2407 - 2432
Permanent link to this document:

As the title suggests the author revisits the concepts and propositions about
corporate psychopaths made some 10 years earlier. The paper indicates that many
of these have since been supported by research whilst other aspects such as the

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links between corporate psychopath behaviour, career advancement ad fraud, as

exemplified by the global financial crisis remain unexplored.

Journal Reading 2
Leary, M.M., Reilly , M.D. & Brown, W.F. (2009), "A study of personality preferences and
emotional intelligence", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 30 No, 5 pp.
421 - 434
Permanent link to this document:

This article links the MBTI personality type indicator with emotional intelligence.
Note that the authors use the Bar-On emotional quotient inventory and survey over
500 managers. They highlight interesting relationship in particular the relationship
between extroversion and EI.

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