Rob Kall : Now you have talked about Enron.
Clive Boddy : Uh yes, I mean these spectacular corporate collapses, seem to have been driven by the very, what's the right word, self aggrandizing CEO's and CFO's within the organizations. If those people, were psychopaths, then certainly the type of behavior, the type of conclusions that came about because of their presence would be expected from corporate psychopaths. So, I mean fraud is the most commonly expected act from having a psychopath, but so far there's no research that definitely links the two. But every psychologist who writes about them, thinks they will engage in fraudulent behavior. It's just that the connection in research hasn't been made yet from a scientific point of view.
Rob Kall : Now you mention in a couple different places, "dark leadership". What's that?
Clive Boddy: Well it's just a broader term called dark, or toxic leadership. A broader term for corporate psychopaths, I think corporate psychopaths are one of three different types of dark leaders if you like. The next would be Machiavellians which would be somebody who is willing to do something regardless of the consequences to other people. And narcissists is the other one, who are people who basically love themselves too much, and they expect the admiration of those around them. So, they have been called the dark triad, in psychology literature for example. Theoretically I think psychopaths would be the most destructive, because there's nothing to say that Machiavellians and narcissists don't have a conscience. I think the literature sort of assumes that they do have a conscience, therefore they have a better side to them which can be appealed too, whereas you can't, there's nothing to appeal too with a psychopath. In fact, they would see appeals as a form of weakness, a sign of weakness, rather than anything else.
Rob Kall : Lets talk a little bit about your corporate psychopaths theory of the global financial crisis. What is it, and what kind of response have you had to your theory?
Clive Boddy : Well, it's the theory that corporate psychopaths in senior positions in corporate banks, in the UK and the U.S. and around the world, for that matter, had an influence on the spiraling levels of debt, and the manufacturing of these derivative products which appear to have no social or economic function other than to create paper profits, and therefore bonuses for the managers concerned.
These products were so complex that the people selling them didn't even understand them, and didn't understand therefore the riskiness of them. And then that begs the question of course what kind of people will sell the product that they don't understand themselves, and don't understand the risk of themselves. And it's got to be someone who's deficient at least in their conscience, and their empathy for other people.
So the theory was that, because modern organizations are becoming more and more fluid, we don't get to know the people that we work with like we used too. If you worked with someone in a company for twenty five years, you would get to know if there were elements of their personality were strange or abhorrent or ruthless, you'd get to know that. You'd get to know how they treated their family, how they treated their wives, how they treated other people around them, and it might start ringing alarm bells as to their credibility, and their suitability for management positions.
But because modern organizations are so fluid and fast, so they have mergers and acquisitions, you have very fast turn over of personal, especially in key positions these days. So nobody gets to know anybody, and therefore those who can give the best facade of being charming and sociable, and capable get to the top quicker than perhaps more introverted people, or people who are less capable of putting themselves in a good light in such a short term meeting, or a short term of getting to know them. So the theory is that psychopaths are getting to the top more and more because of what's happening in terms of personnel turnover and in terms of the way companies recruit people, promote them, within organizations. Therefore, they got to the top more in the corporate banking sector, and I think they'd be especially attracted to that sector because of the power and the money and prestige that can be earned within it. Especially as we've just discussed, at least one bank was using a psychopothy measure to recruit people, so their influence on the banks would be in an ethically negative direction, and they would effect the whole corporate culture to be more and more ruthless, more and more ego driven, more and more risk taking. So they develop a sociopathic culture around the senior psychopaths who were there. And if you throw in a couple of Machiavellian and narcissists into the top management team as well, and you have the recipe where psychopaths can get to do what they want, and can implement the organizational decisions, that they favor for typically short term results, and short term bonuses.
Rob Kall : It seems to me, that what you're describing is the collapse of community and connectedness among people in companies. Because if you have more of that then, these kinds of behaviors are going to be more easily identified and detected and talked about and brought to leadership.
Clive Boddy : Yes, I think that's a good point. Where you have more and more connections you've got greater chance of identifying them in the first place, and therefore restraining their influence, or restraining their gaining of management positions.
Rob Kall : It makes me think, and I call my show the Bottom Up Radio Show, most of the interviews I do are related to the idea that there's the transition from a top down to a bottom up world, our culture, our brains, and that people are getting more connected in some ways, but at the same time there are problems that are affecting our connections. Like globalization hurts community, consumer culture hurts community, and it seems to me that those kinds of things are having this side effect really, that leads to opening up corporations to being more vulnerable or susceptible to allowing entry to these kinds of predators into their upper echelons.
Clive Boddy : Yes I agree with that. I think one of the things that can perhaps constrain it is, there are a number of large European companies that tend to recruit at the graduate level, and then they keep the people within the company, over a long term career. And through doing that they can get to know the people in greater depth, the employees in greater depth and prevent them, the more abberant personalities from getting to the top. But suddenly even those companies, who do traditionally do that, are now starting to look outside their own ranks to recruit people. And as soon as you start bringing in people who you don't know the true character of, then of course there's the danger of bringing in somebody whose too ruthless and too psychopathic.