Agile Kindergarten's Reviews > Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak
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's review
Feb 05, 2013

it was amazing

They are not lying under every rock nor do they occupy every office, but unfortunately, more and more "snakes" are filling leadership positions in Corporate America. Depending on which study you read, between 4 and 30% of our managers and executives are social predators without conscience. Their thrill seeking behavior and political gamesmanship amasses them personal power without any regard to the consequences for either their companies or their co-workers. We've seen some obvious results of their presence in the economic disasters beginning with the Savings and Loan Crises of the 1980s and continuing today with this longest Recession in US history. What is much more extensive and not so obvious is the personal toll working with a psychopath has on the individual and the impact on employee productivity, as well as long term business viability.

The authors provide a good mix of short vignettes, research and a running end-to-end story about the 11 month journey of one psychopath from his hiring to his promotion into the job of the boss he ousted. Although it is practically impossible to protect yourself from a smooth talking, charming psychopath once targeted, the authors explain why and how our current fast paced and constantly changing business environment is the ideal setting for these modern day con-men. Not only does our modern concept of business with its constant re-invention provide jungle like cover for these predators, the less clearly defined skills of leadership, such as strategic thinking, self-confidence, bias towards action and good communication, tailor fit these chameleon-like masters of manipulation.

The thing to remember about psychopaths, aka sociopaths, is that they are totally rational and sane, yet without compassion or remorse. Neuroscience has proven with fMRI scans that psychopaths simply do not react in a normal manner to emotional stimuli. Consequently, although you may have bosses or co-workers in your environment who sometimes behave in a selfish egotistical manner that make working relationships challenging, when you are dealing with a true psychopath, there is no possibility of a positive outcome. Their destructive nature is as immutable as that of a poisonous snake.

Read the cautionary tale, Snakes and Suits, for some tips on how to recognize the corporate psychopath.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 5, 2013 – Shelved

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