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By Dale A. Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach in Success Through Self-Knowledge

The all too frequent manifestations of sociopathic behaviors that have been highlighted in the media recently can be quite disheartening, especially with the 24/7 coverage of events on national news outlets. It is difficult to disagree with Bill’s statement that “the best path for an employee” whose supervisor or organizational leader is a true sociopath is to “exit gracefully and explore more positive opportunities.” Whether the result of genetic predisposition, early life experiences or (most likely) a combination of the two, true sociopaths, as Bill points out, are unlikely to change their beliefs, their behaviors or their character. As Fred Kiel discusses in his book, Return on Character, and in his TED talk on Psychopaths in the C-Suite, such individuals are deceitful, arrogant, manipulative, self-centered, tend to show little remorse or conscience, and typically have no desire to change. As an organizational leader, they can be highly destructive, especially in the long run.

Character traits such as sociopathy (just as generosity and compassion) are on a continuum and most individuals are able to change dysfunctional or self-defeating patterns of beliefs and behaviors. In fact, Kiel emphasizes that “character can be taught,” and CEO Effectiveness focuses on changing character based on gaining self-knowledge. As Bill has emphasized in prior blogs “self-knowledge changes everything.”

CEOs and other organizational leaders may impact thousands of people’s lives, including their employees, their employees’ families, their extensive network of contacts throughout the country and, perhaps, the world, as well as their customers. Kiel references research which demonstrates clearly that the character of the company’s leader is directly related to workforce job satisfaction, engagement and productivity, and to the profitability of the organization.

Fortunately, most CEOs and other leaders are able to recognize and understand the importance of character and to find gratification in moving toward a leadership style that results in more optimal outcomes. CEO Effectiveness works with leaders who aspire to transform themselves and their organizations through self-knowledge and personal mastery. In doing so, they not only enrich their stockholders, but retain talented and loyal employees and positively influence the lives of everyone they touch!

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