There is no doubt that the worst kind of personality to work for is a self-serving, unfeeling, distrustful and conniving character.

The thing is that this personality-type is often what you will encounter in corporate SA at the executive level. This is your corporate psychopath, that narcissistic terror who spends the day taking delight in demeaning and trashing the people around them, usually to enhance that own grandiosity.

This valueless creature throws this loud facade around itself, expecting all to bow to its every whim and desire.

Of course, there are varying degrees of this construct but you do not have to search too far to find one around you. And the best place to start is with your boss!

Although I am unaware of any research in this regard, my own experience has shown that the vanilla corporate executive is a narcissist with varying degrees of intensity. This difficult personality is what, in lesser circles, has become known as the Corporate Psychopath.

Want to check it out? Take the temperature of the organisation and if it’s ruled by fear, you can be comfortably assured that the headman/woman is a rabid narcissist.

The thing is that such a person only respects fellow narcissists. People who have the true values like kindness, compassion, connectedness and caring are considered weak and soft. The correlated conclusion that is that the executive team is a narcissistically-infested hive of similar personalities.

And here’s the thing: If your boss is not a member of this rather unpalatable bunch, then just keep moving up the organogram and you will find one. If it turns out to only be the CEO, then you have landed yourself under the control of the most toxic of corporate psychopaths – one who rules by sucking peoples self-esteem, crushing them at every turn. In such a place nobody can make decisions and everybody operates out of fear.

And know this: if the boss is not like ‘them’, then they are simply not part of the inner circle executive!

Sound familiar? If it does, then you can breathe a sigh of relief – you are more than likely not one of ‘them’.

To understand this a bit better think of it like this: There are two places you can land up in the company:

Manager or


The two, however, are exponentially different.

The manager is a free-flowing individual who might be mildly arrogant and controlling but, because he/she lacks the metal to be a real dog, will stay in the manager space forever.

The executive has been that manager that has shown the right type of controlling behaviour that matches the patterns of the existing executive team. By manipulating and positioning themselves, they have been recognised as a potential member of the ‘club’.

The rest flows from there and another narcissistic executive is born.

The thing is that the really great people with exceptional leadership qualities and values (like you) are not guaranteed a place on the executive team. If they are unwilling to play this awful game, they will forever remain on the outside.

But there is a way to transcend this.

A number of my clients come to me when they have identified their own stuckness. In nearly every case it is because they have reached the ceiling as a manager and are unable to break through to the next level – the executive level. When they begin to understand who they are dealing with, they are able to reach into the executive space and pull themselves in, not by abandoning their values, but by learning to play the game.

If you are resonating with this, know that you need a coach to take you through. Trying to do it on your own is like the person who is throwing a cricket ball around in soccer match and wondering why they are continuously being chucked off the team!

I have been a bit dramatic in describing the executive space and I ask forgiveness from those people who might have been offended by this article. But be assured that, if you are not making into the inner circle there is a very good reason why not!