Organizational Psychopaths – Do They Walk Among Us?


October 14, 2012 by madmountie

Modern organizational management and Human Resource Development have been keenly aware for nearly 30 years that organizational psychopaths woven in and walking among the organization can have a catastrophic effect on their “business”, profit, reputation and survivability. You need to look only recently at the Wall Street and Bay Street collapses that were perpetuated by classic psychopathic behaviour driven by greed and arrogance.

Now take what we know as police officers that a large portion of crime is committed by a small number of offenders. Within that group of criminals psychologists have identified the characteristics of “psychopaths”. They are responsible for the highest degree of repeat offences and damage to society. Now consider a psychopathic employee/manager that when analyzed is responsible for a far higher than normal  degree of workplace dysfunction by bullying, harassing and unethical manipulation. Therefore, the repeat offender/bad employee poses tremendous risk to us all, do you know any in a Detachment near you? Could this over time left unchecked cause the downfall of organizational culture and morale to the point of crisis?    ………………Absolutely, are we there yet?

Here are some quotes and links to much smarter and skilled people than myself, take the time to read some of these over. I think you will be as surprised as I was as to see how relevant some of the research conducted to date may directly apply to the type of organizational challenges we are facing today. I only hope this is on the radar of Human Resources inside the RCMP.

When any organization or company finds itself in a period of downturn, poor morale, or productivity decrease it has to look hard at it’s future. Understanding it’s past successes and failures combined with being acutely attentive to the current and relevant operating environment will provide a starting point for corrective analysis.

Is it an internal or external driven dilemma that is responsible? This should be the first question that is asked. How can “I’ as a leader, “we” as a management team or “all of us” (employees) as collective stakeholders alter and correct the imbalance at the root of our failure.

Self analysis is tough, especially if you lie to yourself. We are hard wired to believe in ourselves as a survival mechanism, only when we become objective and self aware can we be completely honest with ourselves. Worse yet as an organization, if we believe too much in our past reputation and iconic status we tend to defend that reputation rather than earn it day in and day out. Everyone wants to be on a famous or winning team, if we lie to ourselves about the current state of affairs and bury our heads in the sand or placate our critics about “we are changing” without an honest evaluation of the problem we will lose. The reputation will tarnish and sooner or later by our own hand we will have become insignificant and self marginalized.

Together let’s look for problems inside and with ourselves…………………

The below passage is taken from

“Research has shown that individuals with Psychopathic tendencies are attracted to
positions, occupations and professions that afford opportunity to obtain power,
control, status, and possessions. They thrive very well on uncertainty and often target
senior members of staff, seeking support from and affinity with them, showering
them with charm and flattery, malignant gossip and rumour about peers, and false or
exaggerated claims of personal success. They may also target colleagues who are
perceived to have substantial:
· Expert Power : those with good technical abilities will be lucrative targets; their
expertise can be exploited and manipulated for the Psychopath’s own benefit.
· Knowledge Power : colleagues and peers who have access to information are
strong political players, whom a Psychopath will target to obtain up-to-date
information on company policy, strategy, products, and services.
· Resource Power : who controls staff, money and assets are also important

Targets can expect to witness the following cycle of behaviour:
· Assessment : a Psychopath will assess potential targets’ level of power based
upon the targets’ position in the organisational hierarchy and on the three
power variables listed above
· Manipulation : a Psychopath will effect a parasitic relationship with their
targets, through the use of charm and deviousness, raising the Psychopath’s
profile and reputation at the targets’ expense
· Abandonment : a target will be abandoned when the Psychopath believes that
their relationship no longer offers any benefits.

To other, less ‘important’, staff members – subordinates; colleagues who apparently
carry little political importance; back office staff – expect rude and aggressive
behaviours, circumvention of team processes and procedures, conflict, blaming
others, and the undercutting of others’ opinions. “

This article also states:

” Whatever the true cause, or causes, of Psychopathy – a defective Amygdala is not yet
conclusive – an individual with Psychopathic tendencies will score high on what’s
called The Two-Factor Model Of Psychopathy, developed by Harpur and Hare:

Factor 1: Emotional Impairment – Interpersonal/affective terms
· Glib/superficial charm
· Reduced anxiety levels
· Grandiose sense of self-worth
· Pathological lying
· Conning/manipulative
· Lack of remorse or guilt
· Shallow affect
· Callous/lack of empathy
· Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.

Factor 2: Behaviour – Impulsive/antisocial lifestyle items
· Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
· Parasitic lifestyle
· Poor behavioural controls
· Early behavioural problems
· Lack of realistic, long-term goals
· Impulsivity
· Irresponsibility
· Juvenile delinquency.
Other items to look out for that fail to load on either factor include:
· Promiscuous sexual behaviour
· Many short-term marital affairs
· Criminal versatility.

Factor 1, Emotional Impairment, is the key point in separating Psychopathy from
APSD. Research has demonstrated that Factor 1 variables cross Social Economic,
gender, and ethnic boundaries; what’s different is the frequency and methods of
behavioural manifestations – Factor 2. For example, a young teenage male with high
Factor 1 Emotional Impairment from a poor, unstable, socially deprived background,
will be more likely to demonstrate higher levels of physically violent, impulsive, and
reckless Factor 2 behaviours – what would be called Reactive Aggression – than a
highly educated, professional woman, also with high Factor 1 Emotional Impairment,
who would be more likely to indulge in more manipulative, devious, goal-directed
Factor 2 behaviours – what we might call Instrumental Aggression.

Detecting incidents of Instrumental Aggression are important in unveiling individuals
in your organisation whose behaviours are intended to meet their own selfish, callous
and shallow ends, at the expense of organisational productivity, goals, teamwork, and
group cohesion. These individuals may also pose a danger to the Health and Safety of
other employees, putting your organisation at risk of expensive litigation, loss of
reputation, and, perhaps, loss of accreditation. You should also ask yourself whether
acts of Instrumental Aggression are in line with your organisational culture; I.e.
implicitly, or even actively, encouraged. Possible definitions of Instrumental
Aggression masquerading as ‘virtuous’ and ‘desired’ traits include:

· strong command-and-control leadership
· risk taking
· decisiveness
· strength of character
· perseverance
· focus.

If you believe these traits are desirable, or necessary, take a long, hard look at LONGTERM productivity levels, and look for consistency; you might find a pattern of
sharp peaks and deep troughs. Examine records of employee turnover and
absenteeism and you may find that the minority of employees who have stayed are
those who, probably, have demonstrated desired ‘strong leadership’; those who have
left, taking all their knowledge, skills, and experience with them, may have
demonstrated more collaborative and intellectual approaches to business – qualities
you have now lost.
Think, also, of the ethical impact of promoting Instrumental Aggression, its
correlation with incidences of Bullying and Harassment, and the concomitant levels
of stress, depression, and illness. If none of these issues are of concern to you, or you
pay mere lip service, then your organisation can be compared to a febrile, septic Petri
dish, witnessing the organic growth of a nasty, devious, manipulative, and shallow
culture, encouraging and, indeed, attracting, symbiotic individuals who, perhaps,
demonstrate high Factor 1 and Factor 2 scores, mirroring your organisation, and
reinforcing its culture. You need to ask yourself: when will this House of Cards
eventually fall? “

Here are two more links, one is an article, the other a powerpoint presentation. Take your time with the powerpoint and really read it well. I have a third document for you that I have had to purchase, it is in pdf, it is phenomenal, and as soon as I can upload it I will post it as a stand alone page.

Again, thanks for letting me vent, it is therapeutic and I am learning from your comments that I am not alone. That in itself is very comforting,

As always, Be Safe out there,


The Mad Mountie


11 thoughts on “Organizational Psychopaths – Do They Walk Among Us?

  1. Gungnir says:

    Google, “Organizational Psychcopathy” by Dr. Mike Webster. It sounds like the OCDP to me!:)

  2. Deer Hunter says:

    Mad Mountie:

    Thanks for the links to Snakes and Suits. It would seem that the organization has been suffering from this affliction for many years. My first thought was, Wow, doesn’t this fit the many descriptions I have heard or read or observed in Zaccradelli. Thank goodness that regime is gone. Or is it?

    I don’t know much about Bill Elliott, other than what was written about him and the fact he came from outside the organization. He came from the government inner circle and that’s because of the nightmare of Zaccradelli et al. The Prime Minister had no choice but to hire from outside.

    Now this new fellow makes me sit back and ponder. He is on nobody’s radar. He’s not the normal rank that is chosen from until just before his appointment and he appears to fit the Snakes and Suits Template. The first thing that makes me wonder is, “If he had been married to the Assistant to the Chief Clerk of the Privy Council before the Prime Minister made a decision, would he have been the choice?”

    Let’s see now. The Prime Minister decides who the Commissioner will be. The PM doesn’t work in a bubble or a vacuum. He takes advice from his inner circle, as well as from the Privy Council. The Clerk of the Privy Council communicates with the PM daily. The Clerk of the Privy Council is the highest civil servant in the government, and that person would be taking advice from his assistant, who as we have later learned happens to be the future Commissioner Wife. We likely would never have heard of this had it not been for the Red Serge Members attendance at the wedding on Force time. Of course, the fall out and the back tracking from there has raised a few opinions, and a few articles of interest. The rumor I have heard is that someone had best look into the New Commissioner’s past history with regard of his military service. Appears the cycle of a psychopath is still very functional at the top of the RCMP pile. Nothing has changed and thank goodness I retired.

    Facts of Fiction

  3. Ryan says:

    Deer Hunter……I pondered the very same thing and was left with this all too simple question.

    How does PAULSON have the temerity to talk in public about ethics and core values when his new wife was his extra martial affair that ended his first marriage. If he had integrity or ethics he would have ended his marriage and moved on with her…not behind her back. Speaks to a lot of how he will treat members when he treats his own wife (exwife) that way. Good thing the serge is already a scarlet so we all get painted with the same brush.

    • Jean Marc Villeneuve says:

      I think it was her boss, (his new wife) Margaret Bloodworth, who was NatSec Advisor to PM who was on the Paulson review panel. Margaret was former DM at Public Safety and was one of the most powerful/feared senior crats in Ottawa. Friendly way to get top job, political corruption at it’s best..

      • Jean Marc Villeneuve says:

        Editorial: Corruption – are there any good guys in this story?
        The GazetteSeptember 28, 2012
        MONTREAL – It’s a sad state of affairs when the only person who looks good coming out of this week’s explosive testimony at the Charbonneau Commission is a man who was caught trying to fix a mayoral election and who benefitted from multimillion-dollar contracts he secured through his Mafia connections.

        Lino Zambito, the former owner of Infrabec arrested in 2011 on fraud and collusion charges, at least came clean before the commission, explaining what he was doing at a Christmas party with the Rizzuto family, and how the city of Montreal, like the surrounding suburbs, became a hermetically sealed market where a dozen construction companies, including his own, took turns “winning” public-works contracts.

        In contrast to Zambito, whose company specialized in sewer work, the RCMP, which sat on evidence of corruption for eight years, and Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, who is still saying he is completely shocked by revelations of collusion, come across as incompetent at best.

        But there is plenty of blame to go around in this whole affair. Quebecers are collectively coming to understand the extent to which organized crime has infiltrated the lucrative construction industry and created arrangements allowing companies to skim 15 to 30 per cent off the top.

        The lack of cooperation that the RCMP has shown with Quebec’s corruption investigation is startling.

        Since 2004, the RCMP has had video showing construction entrepreneurs handing wads of cash to mob bosses and middlemen at Café Consenza in north-end Montreal. But the force chose not to investigate or share the information with anyone, judging the information to be “non-pertinent” to its investigation of the Mafia’s involvement in the drug trade. This failure to pass on such evidence is particularly incredible at a time when, thanks to technology, sharing information has never been easier. Mayor Tremblay is right to point the finger at the Mounties for not coming forward with this information, which could have turned years of hearsay and rumours into damning evidence.

        Further, the fact that the RCMP refused to hand over its evidence until a court order obliged it to, and is still not responding to certain requests from the Charbonneau Commission, is appalling. If ever there were a situation that required the cooperation of all police forces in Quebec — and not their “silo-fication” as one expert put it — this is it.

        But Mayor Tremblay himself must also answer to the phalanx of critics who say that if he is truly surprised by the revelations, he is incredibly naive. His former right-hand man, Frank Zampino, whom he named chairman of the city’s executive committee, was arrested in May and charged with fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust. And the man in charge of fundraising for Tremblay’s Union Montreal municipal party, Bernard Trépanier — a.k.a. “Mr. Three Per Cent” because, it is alleged, he asked entrepreneurs for three per cent of the value of contracts — was among eight other people arrested with Zampino in May. When people around you and appointed by you end up under criminal investigation, or are forced to leave their posts under a cloud of suspicion, it’s difficult for voters not to wonder what’s going on and what you knew about it.

        For now, the mayor has a more pressing conundrum to face — namely, what to do about contracts for roads and other infrastructure projects that have already been awarded to companies named by Zambito during his testimony as being involved in collusion and price-fixing.

        If those contracts are honoured, Montrealers and Tremblay will be dishonoured. On the other hand, if Tremblay decides to postpone the awarding or executing of contracts until a planned new provincial law to counter fraud in the construction business comes in at the end of the year, Montrealers will be held hostage by an older enemy — its decrepit roads and falling bridges.

        © Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

        Now ask yourself why did the Commish of the time and the Commanding Officers of the time seal these files.

        During last weeks testimony Mr. 1% ( Surprenant) was asked why did he not come forward and tell the police about the original threat?? His answer was simple but everybody knew about the corruption. As his testimony continued all week he explained how it became the norm, so nobody could identify that the norm was not normal but corruption. This is the dilemma that the RCMP is having and has had for decades. The corruption of senior manager is the norm and they are depending on all the rankin file striving to become part of the elite or the norm. As police officers you have a responsibility to follow the money and identify the corruption of our political masters. By stepping outside the present norm and asking why??? Then as a group of the rankin, file doing what we are trained to do, investigate, follow the money, follow the promotions and the money and you will find your answers as a GROUP. The political master will hagn our senior managers as soon as you get close to the money. Make a point to follow the Commission investigations as they develop you will find your operational plan of attack.

  4. Reblogged this on pierremontagneblog and commented:
    Without exageration the Organizational Psychopath describes fully 50% of the commissioned officers I worked for.
    It had become all to clear by the mid 1990’s that the slection criteria for commissioned officers was based on psychopathic performance indicators of the the Officers who had preceded them.
    It is this is why teh Force has and continues to be the Culturte of corruption that it has become.

  5. Unfortunately fully half or more of the commissioned officers that I worked with in my Career completely fit the descriptors of “the organizational psychopath”.

    Most are still in the RCMP and are filling positions at the Supt, C/Supt, A/Comm and D/Comm levels. They were all placed and career patched in the blue room by Zacardelli.

    Originally the promotional exams at the NCO level were a good start because Organizational Psychopaths at the officer level had turned the promotional system into mostly patronage promotions for butt kissing sycophants. However after a few years even the NCO promotional system has been compromised and now caters to such individuals as the Organizational Psychopath.

    Few knew or remember that the promotional exams were created so that;
    “Those members who do not necessarily have operational skills that can lead to promotion would not be denied career path advancement in the administrative structures of the Force.”

    So it is no wonder at all that many of our modern NCO’s and not a few commissioned officers really do not have demonstrable operational experience and therefore run for cover when faced with serious risk management issues.

    Of course – being Administrative psychopaths ensures that they enforce mediocrity in their subordinates to ensure they are not eclipsed, and that nothing interferes with the “low profile” they seek to create for themselves.
    This “low profile” is actually “operational work avoidance” it allows more time for personal pursuits such as marital infidelity, internal politicking for self- advancement, and time for abuse of power to undermine those who could deliberately or inadvertently expose the lack of ability, character or incompetence of Commissioned RCMP Officers or RCMP leadership in general.

    • Lots of Hugs says:

      I’ve had some dealing with Psychopaths while working at Psychological firm. If they were in business world, we referred to them as ‘white collared Psychopaths’. In the Force, they would be referred to as, ‘ red collared Psychopaths’.

  6. Jean Marc Villeneuve says:

    Former RCMP Commissioner proves, once again, he is out of touch with policing realities.

    By David Griffin, Executive Officer, Canadian Police Association

    In his letter to Prime Minister Harper on December 6, 2006, former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli tendered his resignation, with “regret and sadness”, noting his testimony before the House of Commons Committee investigating the Arar affair, and subsequent attempt to “set the record straight” had created controversy which “makes it increasingly difficult for me and for the institution to fulfill its responsibilities to the Canadian people.”

    Despite the controversy and disgrace which marked his resignation, King Zac, as he was known by many, weathered the storm very well, and landed a lucrative job through the old boys network. Interviewed 20 months later by CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge, Mr. Mansbridge noted that “Giuliano Zaccardelli looks at home in Lyon, France, comfortable with his RCMP pension and secure in his new job as a senior officer at Interpol, the international police agency.”

    Not a bad landing indeed; the buck continues to roll for King Zac, so to speak. But not satisfied with his well padded exile, Mr. Zaccardelli seized the opportunity of the CBC interview to once again try to distance himself, and his senior RCMP cronies, for responsibility in the Arar affair. Not really a surprise, considering the man for what he is.

    After all, Zaccardelli was also at the centre of another scandal, surrounding the mismanagement of the RCMP pension and insurance plans, which resulted in no fewer than 7 investigations including the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, who found that there was a culture of fear and mistrust created by RCMP senior management.

    Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day launched an independent investigation, lead by Mr. David Brown, Q.C,, who found that Zaccardelli’s “autocratic” leadership set a “tone at the top” that encouraged similar behavior among his management team. Brown concluded that this was fundamentally damaging to the culture of the RCMP, noting the incidents he reported on lent credibility to assertions that under Zaccardelli’s rule, the RCMP had a “poisoned work environment”, “abusive work environment”, and “culture of entitlement at the top”.

    Brown observed that surveys of RCMP members “showed that those in higher ranks had become more satisfied with their jobs while job satisfaction of those in the lower ranks had deteriorated significantly.”

    Indeed, Zaccardelli was known for his regal spending habits during his reign. In 2002 the Canadian Taxpayer Federation made him one of the nominees for “Teddies”, which are awarded annually to a public office holder, civil servant, department or agency, that most exemplifies government waste, overspending, over-taxation, excessive regulation, lack of accountability, or any combination of the five.

    Zaccardelli was nominated for, “Most Original Use of Leather in Public Service”, “for spending $1,064 on ceremonial leather riding boots and $180,000 on executive office renovations including $30,000 on leather furniture and $42,000 in bathroom upgrades.”

    What was the surprising, and certainly disappointing aspect of the CBC interview, was that the exiled King went on to suggest that Canadian police should stop using Conducted Energy Devices, or “Tasers” as he and Mr. Mansbridge described them:

    “I think we should stop using it. You know, a lot of people are going to say, oh, here he is, former commissioner and so on, why is he taking this position now. The unions will be aghast that I’m taking this position and criticize me and so on. You’ll have… I guarantee you, you’ll have ministers and high officials that will be scared to take on the unions because the unions run policing in a lot of ways in Canada, and there will be a lot of resistance, but look at the facts. Look at the damage that the misuse of the Taser has done to the police perception and to the whole notion that the police is part of the community, and when people start seeing images, you know, that are not very nice or getting told about situations where people are being abused by this, I think it’s time to revisit this, and I think the time has come to take that away from us or at least put a moratorium for several years on it so that we can see the difference.”

    Apparently, for Zac, who can’t remember if he even approved the “taser”, concerns over public perception are more important than officer safety. As if video of someone being “tasered” is any more disturbing than watching other use of force options being deployed, including physical restraint, batons, or firearms. And to suggest that police associations, or “unions” as Zaccardelli would refer to us, are running police forces in Canada, in particular the RCMP, is laughable. As King Zac knows all too well, RCMP members who have had the courage to try to bring an association into the RCMP or to speak publicly about concerns within the RCMP, have been the subject of gag orders, threats of discipline, and/or disciplinary action.

    The RCMP would look considerably different if in fact police associations had the type of influence that Mr. Zaccardelli describes, starting with the right to even form an association within the RCMP.

    The ivory towers of RCMP HQ would not be adorned with Italian marble and leather while rank and file members are left without adequate staff, training, back-up, equipment and support.

    Instead of new corporate jets, the RCMP would purchase security cameras for all of their detachments and cell areas, to provide a video record of dealings with prisoners, instead of leaving members to defend themselves when allegations occur. A murdered RCMP member’s widow would not feel compelled to call for revisions to force policy which left officers in remote detachments without back-up when responding to dangerous calls.

    Victims of sexual harassment within the RCMP would not be forced to seek redress through civil court actions. Junior officers who reported irregularities to commanders concerning abuses with monies in their pension and insurance plans, would not be subject to threats, intimidation, and transfer.

    The RCMP would not have exhausted legal appeals to try to prevent, unsuccessfully, the RCMP’s prosecution under the Canada Labour Code following the death of one of their members.

    Indeed, if police associations had as much power as King Zac suggests, he would have certainly been held accountable for his entire reign in office, and not just his final act.

    • Jean Marc Villeneuve says:

      Let’s not forget his italian toy corporate jet,The makes and models of the aircraft can all be found with the click of a mouse on the RCMP Air Services web page, where the force proudly describes its fleet of 3 Cessna Caravans, 2 De Havilland Twin Otters, 2 Eurocopter EC 120Bs, 8 Eurocopter AS 350B3s, 15 Pilatus PC-12s, 10 Cessnas

      and let’s not forget former Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli’s Italian vanity jet, the Piaggio Avanti P180.
      How many lives did this jet cost RCMP members serving alone without back up. Proper equipment the list goes on….

      • Jean Marc Villeneuve says:

        Executive transport
        National origin
        Piaggio Aero
        First flight
        26 September 1986
        30 September 1990
        In production
        Primary users
        Italian Armed Forces
        AirGO Flugservice GmbH[3]
        Number built
        216 delivered as of November 2011[4]
        Unit cost
        US$ 7 million

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