True Leaders understand they do not and can not control people!

Further, they understand people control work processes – and that is all a leader can reasonably expect to influence.


Why Do People Seek Leadership Positions?

  • Some want to gain control over work – often to overcome inner feelings of powerlessness.
  • Some crave attention, mostly from people in more senior positions but also from others they see as part of the ‘in’ crowd.
  • Some people genuinely want to help people be successful at work.


Sociopathic Leaders

  • We have all read about sociopaths and how they achieve leadership positions (see links at the bottom of this post for information on this issue).

In Summary:

  • Socipoaths are charming and friendly.
  • They understand people and how to manipulate them by appealing to their needs.
  • Socipaths network well and know how to look good to those in more senior positions.
  • In reality, they lack empathy towards other people and have absolutely no shame or remorse for their actions.


True Leaders Enlist All Their Resources

  • A true leader focuses on tapping 100 per cent of each person’s capabilities and potential.
  • Authentic leaders understand what motivates people and what turns them off about work.
  • True leaders may not always succeed, but they are continuously trying to get the most from their people.
  • A true leader understands that people need to be continuously learning and developing in order to improve.


When We Hire Leaders, How Can We  Differentiate Between True Leaders and Sociopaths?


When Considering a Person for a Leadership Position:

  • Look for evidence of informal leadership – see if this person has naturally assumed leadership in informal activities – both on the job and in her/his personal life.
  • Seek out evidence other people look to this person when issues, challenges and crises arise – again, look both on the job and off the job.
  • Look for a track record of success where this person has positively influenced people to improve themselves i.e. she/he possesses natural coaching skills.
  • Look for evidence people see this person’s actions as being consistent with her/his words i.,e. the person exemplifies integrity and honesty.


How to Obtain This Evidence

Ask about this person with:

  • Friends
  • Current work colleagues
  • People who used to work with this person
  • People who have been on projects with this person
  • Former supervisors and managers
  • People working with this person in her/his private lives (charity drives, children’s sports, fund raising activities etc.).


Look for Evidence Concerning:

  • Whether people naturally follow them when issues arise or in a crisis.
  • How they help people learn.
  • How they help people develop themselves.
  • Situations where they have painted a picture of a desireable future and people were willing to follow them.



Don’t Be Fooled

  • You have to work very hard to avoid hiring a person to a leadership position who aspires to that position for the wrong reasons (and, therefore, will do a poor job for the organization and for the people who report to her/him).
  • Do not simply accept charm and sociability as evidence of a true leader – in fact, if charm and sociability is all you ever see from a person, be very cautious in considering her/him for a leadership position.
  • Additionally, do not assume someone is a Leader simply because that person gives you what you need.
  • Moreover, do not fall into the trap of promoting someone just because they seem to think like you do – it is diversity of thought that makes a team or organization strong – not our ‘sameness’.
  • Also, don’t just accept ability to meet the measureables for a particular job – many people who are good at their technical job are not good leaders.


For More Information About Sociopathy/Psychopathy and Leadership 

The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy and Leadership

Leaders Are More Likely To Be Sociopaths