Snakes in Suits
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|Author||Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare|
|May 9, 2006|
The text covers the nature of psychopaths in the context of employment and purports to explain:
- How psychopaths manipulate their way into work and get promoted,
- The effects of their presence on colleagues and corporations, and
- The superficial similarities (and fundamental differences) between leadership skills and psychopathic traits.
The work is interlaced with fictional narratives illustrating how the factual content applies to real-life situations. Characteristics of manipulators are described as shifting to meet stereotypical gender expectations: a female psychopath might make full use of the passive, warm, nurturing, and dependent sex-role stereotype in order to get what she wants out of others and a male psychopath might use a macho image, intimidation, and aggression to achieve satisfaction of his desires.
The authors posit that around 3–4% of more senior positions in business are psychopaths.
Five phase model
The authors describe a five phase model of how a typical workplace psychopath climbs to and maintains power:
- Entry - psychopath will use highly developed social skills and charm to obtain employment into an organisation. At this stage it will be difficult to spot anything which is indicative of psychopathic behaviour, and as a new employee you might perceive the psychopath to be helpful and even benevolent.
- Assessment - psychopath will weigh you up according to your usefulness, and you could be recognised as either a pawn (who has some informal influence and will be easily manipulated) or a patron (who has formal power and will be used by the psychopath to protect against attacks)
- Manipulation - psychopath will create a scenario of “psychopathic fiction” where positive information about themselves and negative disinformation about others will be created, where your role as a part of a network of pawns or patrons will be utilised and you will be groomed into accepting the psychopath's agenda.
- Confrontation - the psychopath will use techniques of character assassination to maintain their agenda, and you will be either discarded as a pawn or used as a patron
- Ascension - your role as a patron in the psychopath’s quest for power will be discarded, and the psychopath will take for himself/herself a position of power and prestige from anyone who once supported them.
A review of Snakes in Suits by The Australian called it "a lay guide to corporate psychopaths." and concluded "However wooden in parts, Snakes in Suits is a valuable addition to any business library."
- The Mask of Sanity by Hervey M. Cleckley, first published in 1941.
- Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare, first published in 1993.
- Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley, published in 2007.
- The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, published in 2011.
- Gamboto-Burke, Antonella (23 September 2006). "News: Snakes In Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work". The Australian. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work". Publishers Weekly. PWxyz LLC. May 1, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
Clear and complete, this is a handy overview for managers and HR, with enough ""self-defense"" techniques to help coworkers from getting bit.
- "Snakes in suits : when psychopaths go to work". Retrieved February 26, 2017.
This is an important perspective in the increasingly complicated hiring challenges facing corporate America.
- "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work". Psychology Today. 39 (5): 36. September 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Snakes in suits". California Bookwatch. Midwest Book Review. October 1, 2006. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths go to Work". Security Management. ASIS Management. June 1, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- "The Dark Side of Charisma". Canadian Business. Rogers Media. 79 (11): 142, 143. May 22, 2006.
- "Snakes in the grass... in tailor-made suits". Finweek. Media24 Magazines: 44. December 18, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2017.