Pathological leaders exist in the world today, more frequently than you believe. They are often individuals in positions of power, that twist the system for their own benefit and believe their own lies and deceit. Unfortunately, many Australian workplaces and the employees working there experience the impact of a Pathological leader, and it is not nice!
In my experience, leaders who are comfortable in their own skin and happy to hire people smarter than them because they know how it improves the output and productivity of a team are the best leaders. These leaders demonstrate compassion, understanding, and humility core skills essential to being a great leader, and sadly lacking in pathological leaders.
A Pathological leader may not be obvious initially, however highly egotistical, pathological leaders are seduced by the money which is a driver as to why they are attracted to leadership. Their team is just a tool to use to make themselves look better and earn more.
A pathological leader must not only be the smartest person in the room at all times, but they also have to demonstrate it and belittle anyone who challenges their intelligence. They feel threatened by the skills and brilliance of others. Out of fear of being outshone, they will regularly degrade these honest people in public forums or tell lies to make themselves look better. Often, they are prepared to stand strongly behind their own false convictions and beliefs; bullying anyone who challenges them or does not fit in the role they intend for them. It is fair to say that there are examples on the world stage today of pathological leaders. They demonize those who don’t agree with, or believe in their views and do not favor them.
Red flags you might be sitting across from a pathological leader.
There are some Red flags to be conscious of to avoid accidentally hiring a Pathological Leader. Don’t become spellbound by the charisma of a pathological leader, as is easy to do. On the surface, they look and appear perfect, yet talk incessantly and avoid answering questions with any substance. They weave a web of lies and pathological leaders when pressed for hard factual evidence of any real achievements or highlights in their career usually cannot point to any. When the lies begin to unravel, this is when this individual will quickly move to another better leadership role in another company to advance their career. Pathological leaders move regularly and are reluctant to supply former employers as referees because they know they will be uncovered.
How to avoid the heartache
When you notice signs of a such a leader, prevention is the best cure. If you notice these traits in a hiring process might save the sanity of your team and yourself – don’t hire – if in doubt, don’t take the risk.
If you fear you may have a pathological leader in your midst, look out for these warning signs. A high volume of turnover in the team that was previously stable is often a red flag. The employees feel they are not listened to and cannot stand up to the leader, so they simply move on to greener grass. A lack of talent and the presence of an overbearing leader will result in the business falling behind on key indicators. Pathological leaders can twist the facts and lead their co-workers down the wrong path, but if they are closely monitored, in an appropriate way, the truth will come out.
How to create an environment where a pathological leader cannot survive
To avoid a pathological leader destroying your business, create a supportive, open work environment, conducive to feedback so the team can notify you if they start noticing these red flags going up. Don’t lower the bar for a pathological leader, instead, call out this bad behavior and create an understanding of what is expected. Although it can be difficult to identify this type of individual, their actions are detrimental to the team and company then it is in your best interest to remove them quickly.