Quiz: Is Your Boss a Psychopath?
For those of you that know me, you understand the importance of this query.
The standard clinical test for psychopathy, Robert Hare's PCL-R, evaluates 20 personality traits overall, but a subset of eight traits defines what he calls the "corporate psychopath" -- the nonviolent person prone to the "selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others." Does your boss fit the profile? Here's our do-it-yourself quiz drawing on the test manual and Hare's book Without Conscience.
For each question, score two points for "yes," one point for "somewhat" or "maybe," and zero points for "no."
 Is she glib and superficially charming?
Is she a likable personality and a terrific talker -- entertaining, persuasive, but maybe a bit too smooth and slick? Can she pass herself off as a supposed expert in a business meeting even though she really doesn't know much about the topic? Is he a flatterer? Seductive, but insincere? Does she tell amusing but unlikely anecdotes celebrating her own past? Can he persuade his colleagues to support a certain position this week -- and then argue with equal conviction and persuasiveness for the opposite position next week? If she's a CEO, can she appear on TV and somehow get away without answering the interviewer's direct questions or saying anything truly substantive?
 Does she have a grandiose sense of self-worth?
Does she brag? Is he arrogant? Superior? Domineering? Does she feel she's above the rules that apply to "little people"? Does he act as though everything revolves around him? Does she downplay her legal, financial, or personal problems, say they're just temporary, or blame them on others?
 Is she a pathological liar?
Has she reinvented her own past in a more positive light -- for example, claiming that she rose from a tough, poor background even though she really grew up middle class? Does he lie habitually even though he can easily be found out? When she's exposed, does she still act unconcerned because she thinks she can weasel out of it? Does he enjoy lying? Is she proud of her knack for deceit? Is it hard to tell whether he knows he's a liar or whether he deceives himself and believes his own bull?
 Is she a con artist or master manipulator?
Does she use her skill at lying to cheat or manipulate other people in her quest for money, power, status, and sex? Does he "use" people brilliantly? Does she engage in dishonest schemes such as cooking the books?
 When she harms other people, does she feel a lack of remorse or guilt?
Is she concerned about herself rather than the wreckage she inflicts on others or society at large? Does he say he feels bad but act as though he really doesn't? Does he blame others for the trouble he causes?
 Does she have a shallow affect?
Is she cold and detached, even when someone near her dies, suffers, or falls seriously ill -- for example, does she visit the hospital or attend the funeral? Does he make brief, dramatic displays of emotion that are nothing more than putting on a theatrical mask and playacting for effect? Does she claim to be your friend but rarely or never ask about the details of your life or your emotional state? Is he one of those tough-guy executives who brag about how emotions are for whiners and losers?
 Is she callous and lacking in empathy?
Does she not give a damn about the feelings or well-being of other people? Is he profoundly selfish? Does she cruelly mock others? Is he emotionally or verbally abusive toward employees, "friends," and family members? Can she fire employees without concern for how they'll get by without the job? Can he profit from embezzlement or stock fraud without concern for the harm he's doing to shareholders or pensioners who need their savings to pay for their retirements?
 Does she fail to accept responsibility for her own actions?
Does she always cook up some excuse? Does he blame others for what he's done? If she's under investigation or suspicion, like deceitful accounting or stock fraud, does she refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing even when the hard evidence is stacked against her?
If your boss scores:
1-4 | Be frustrated
5-7 | Be cautious
8-12 | Be afraid
13-16 | Be very afraid
Not only am I afraid, I'm REALLY afraid. She scores a solid 14, and only because I'm being magnanimous.