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Managing Machiavellians

Machiavellians are highly sensitive to punishment, so in the experiment they acted with smart restraint when punishment was a factor but when punishment was not there were working their brain activity was going they kept all they could.

The Dark Triad: machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy

Think about it this way, keep an eye on someone like this and they’ll play nice, turn your back and who knows what they might do in pursuit of their own self interest.

Peter Jonason and Gregory Webster, two scholars who study the dark triad extensively, sought to boil down all measures of machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy into a short, easily administered survey.

They settled after much research on 12 simple statements that allow us to scale people from low to high along these dimensions. Here are two of the statements that they used to measure machiavellianism: “I tend to manipulate others to get my way”, “I have used deceit or lied to get my way”.

Narcissism, the personality trait of someone that is profoundly self-centered

Moving to the second point of the dark triad characteristics we come to narcissism this personality trait means that someone is profoundly self-centered, which leads to extravagantly self-serving behavior.

Rather than talk about a research study for narcissism I’d like to return to Bernie Madoff last we left him he was sitting in a federal penitentiary. In an interview with Barbara Walters he was asked what he thinks about all this negative publicity he received does he understand why and does he regret what he is done?

“I understand why clients hate me. The gravy train is over” he said “I can live with that”, he went on “The average person thinks I robbed widows and orphans.” “I made wealthy people wealthy”. Notice the pattern of quotes here.

Despite his outright lies, overall, he excuses it and frames what he did positively: he helped people. One measure of narcissism used in management studies is the number of times an executive uses the first person in speeches.

The use of I and unconditional positive self regard of narcissists

In these quotes from the Walters interview made off uses “I” frequently. He also tries to present what he did: lying, cheating, stealing somehow in a positive light. Remember the truth though: Madoff only made money for people who were smart enough to withdraw their money in time.

In other words if they were machiavellian and didn’t trust him they probably made money with him but then made off left many people holding nothing to. So who benefited from this gravy train that Madoff created? Bernie Madoff, of course!

The use of I and unconditional positive self regard of narcissists overall reminds me of another business leader: Donald Trump. Trump likes to be in the center of attention and finds many ways to make that happen even if they have nothing at all to do with his business dealings.