Magazine article Psychology Today

The Nightmare Boss, Revisited

Magazine article Psychology Today

The Nightmare Boss, Revisited

Article excerpt

THE "PSYCHOPATH IN the boardroom" trope captures the idea that leaders rise to their positions through ruthlessness, fearlessness, and domination-all traits closely related to psychopathy. But recent research from the Journal of Applied Psychology indicates that fears of psychopathic executives may be overblown.

The meta-analysis, which examined 92 studies on psychopathy and leadership, differentiated leadership emergence-or how likely someone is to become a leader-from leadership effectiveness. Overall, researchers discerned only a weak positive relationship between psychopathy and leadership emergence, and a weak negative relationship between psychopathy and effectiveness. "Psychopathy may lead people to rise to positions of power," explains Emory University psychologist Scott Lilienfeld, who did not conduct the study, "but it might not keep them there. …

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