The Psychopath Handbook: Be the Boss

Too often we hear stories of aspiring psychopaths who are exposed and thwarted. Often it's for small, silly mistakes like moving too soon, and not doing enough homework. In this article, hopefully one of a series, we explain some techniques for building your power base in an organization. Note: yes, this is satire.

Choose Your Field Carefully

The ideal organization is large and chaotic, and dominates its market. Easy money corrupts even the tightest ship. Perhaps the best way to enter a large organization is via a merger or acquisition, which brings with it the most useful chaos. Move swiftly sideways, out of your old structures, and into fresh, wealthier ones. With luck anyone who remembers you will have already left, or can easily be purged down the line.

Patience is Paramount

It can take years to position circumstance properly. Learn to wait. Use your time to cultivate your networks, to identify your opponents, and to understand the flows of money and power in your new host organization. You cannot do too much research. Make lists of people who might cause trouble for you. Research them well, everyone has weaknesses.

Defend the Weak

Does the new organization have an abuse prevention system? If it does, get yourself in charge of it. If it does not, set one up. Ensure you are able to write and change the rules at will. Ensure the system works on hearsay and broad unprovable accusations. Focus on sexual offenses (the less tangible the better), use of language (for every term you can get banned, award yourself a point!), and cultural offenses (use of particular clothing, food, or music can be argued as offensive). Promote those who indict others.

Enhance Your Vulnerabilities

You may be tempted to sway others with your charisma, confidence, and strengths. Yet a broken wing gathers more friends than a sharp beak. Develop your soft side. Don't be afraid to show vulnerability and use it to accuse others of abusive behavior when they attack you. Where power suits and perfect haircuts make you look fake, a shabby disheveled look makes you look innocent and trustworthy.

Cover Your Tracks

There is no excuse for saying nasty things about others and then having your words leaked and used against you. Speak in private when you can. Never leave a trace of your tactics on paper. Secrecy is your best friend. It goes without saying that you must demand utter transparency from everyone else.

Praise The Useless

The fastest way to fracture any team is to praise least talented, and criticize those who do the best work. Be sincere and find plausible reasons for your words. For instance you might accuse the hardest worker of abandoning his family. Or, you might praise the slowest and laziest in the group for his confidence.

Be Your Own Boss

The person who hired you is by definition weak and useless. Ensure your independence. Cultivate those two or three levels higher, and get their approval for random "missions" that let you roam free. Ensure you have an unlimited travel budget. If anyone asks you for reports, bury them in stacks of paper and demand written approval for each line item, until they abandon their attempts.

Advance Sideways

Never wait for promotion, or even worse, ask for it. When positions are available in other branches, or even other organizations, move rapidly sideways and upwards. Always get a hefty salary increase. You can often come back into your own structure, several levels higher, simply with one or two moves like this. Each time you are (re-)hired, negotiate higher exit bonuses.

The Middle-Out Oppression Algorithm

Rank your targets from moderate to extreme, and then attack the moderates first. This has several advantages. first, they are least likely to resist or even know what's going on. Second, as you eliminate the moderates, the extremists start to act more aggressively. This gives you every excuse to attack them next.

Use the Legal System

Simple people have deep respect for the legal system that strays into fear, even terror. This is handy and easy to work with. If someone steps on your toes, or threatens you in any way, move rapidly to sending legal letters and starting court actions. The mere threat of legal action will keep most people in line. Going to court once or twice, and bankrupting your opponent, is both fun, and educational for others.

Never Apologize

It may be tempting to try to act remorseful, if uncovered in one or other way. Yet other tactics can be far more effective. You can laugh and mock your accuser as if they are utterly naive to expect the world to work any other way. You can attack their motives and accuse them of being in cahoots with some external enemy. You can blame others, and get them fired.

Embrace the Chaos

Chaos comes naturally, and ensure you are always ready to seize the moment. Start by blaming others and turning what may be a minor accident or natural disaster into a grand conspiracy. Get your targets to deny responsibility, and you have already won. Start your purges, using whatever means you can: pressure on individuals to resign, use of force, accusations of sexual harassment (see "Defend the Weak"), rumor and innuendo, and so on.

Time Your Exit

You may be able to build a long-lasting power base. More often you will want to, or have to, leave at the right moment, taking your assets (followers, exit bonuses, wealth, and reputation) with you. See "Advance Sideways." Remember that even without money or followers, you are an amazing, charming, winner!

Use Your Failures

If you fail, don't take it personally. Ensure the chaos you leave behind is so spectacular that no-one will ever want to talk about the events, ever again. Brand your failures as successes, by simple repetition. Most people will accept this as truth. Go through events, and figure out what went wrong. There is always something you could have done differently.

Document Your Success

If your gig was a major organization, use the case to promote yourself. Hire a good ghostwriter to write a book about how you came into a broken, dysfunctional place, and turned it around. Call the book "The Art of Business" or something inspirational like "My Journey (And Ten Lessons You Can Learn From It)." A best seller can produce millions in additional revenue. Ensure you keep the movie rights.

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