“There are a lot of sharks in the world. So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.” – Adm. William H. McRaven, Commander of Special Operations Command, Commencement Address University of Texas, May 17, 2014
What We Can Learn From Facing the Flames
The headlines are on fire with the flames of mass shootings and bad boy sexual predators. This article explores the lessons I learned as a psychotherapist and CEO business builder – to provide tools millennials can implement today to address predators in the workplace. My encounters with predators go back to when I was a young man hitchhiking alone around the world and getting thrown in jail in Afghanistan.
Locked-Up Psychopaths Have Traits of Rogue Business Leaders
I was working behind three sets of locked doors at an adult psychiatric unit for the criminally insane, sitting three feet away from a man who’d been locked up for life for raping 26 women. His speech revealed a lack of emotion, and he was without a conscience, yet he was so charming and understanding. I felt valued – the seductive con.
Then he started finishing my sentences for me. Something deep in me sensed that I was in a closed room with a predatory animal. Instantly, I was transported back in time – back to Afghanistan inside a wretched jail with an Afghani guard working me over.
The Abuse of Subordinates by CEOs Is Shocking Because It’s Preventable
In every company, people with important positions know what everyone makes in pay and perks (and who sleeps with whom). We saw this in the October 21, 2017, New York Times article “Sharing a Name of Infamy, Bob Weinstein Struggles With a Scandal’s Fallout” that reported Bob Weinstein’s apparent ignorance of his brother’s behavior. However, this was refuted in the article citing Kathy DeClesis, Bob Weinstein’s former assistant. DeClesis recalls confronting him about his brother’s behavior over a quarter-century ago. “Your brother is a pig,” Ms. DeClesis remembers telling Bob Weinstein….”
Being a Predator is a Team Blood Sport
Bullies and predators are always kept in place by angels above them. This leads to the uncomfortable truth that shaming and bullying are a team blood sport.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Company from the Nearest Predator
Try the following recipe for good recruitment and promotion hygiene.
Executive Due Diligence
Most of us do financial, legal, operational, criminal, and external due diligence on a candidate.
However, I add a sixth level of risk management to discern someone’s character and competence – this is the most important. The only industrial grade tool I’ve discovered is the Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment and is an easy test for ordinary people to master. The Bio-Psycho Assessment delivers an intuitive “feel” on whether a person will be easy to do business with or if they will be intimidating. The assessment identifies their ideal role within a group, which can be revealed by asking them what role they were given by peers when they played as young children or in high school. Children and young teens do not grant leadership to narcissistic bullies.
The Iron Frame of Reference
The most profitable companies are fun to work at and perpetually create new products that jump the innovation curve. But for people to take these risks, the company environment needs to be fertile and safe. Millennials in our midst need to be nurtured, not preyed upon. Isn’t this what we all want?
Strap On Your Helmut and Enter the Arena with the Predator
In boardrooms I have sat next to lawyers, organization development specialists, and human resource managers – who all fail to identify and stop bullies at work. The only glimmer of hope to salvage your business and career is for you to become a “Lion.”
“The Lion King” Shows Us How to Integrate: Our Aggression and Society’s Aggression
Canadian psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson beautifully describes this personal transformation of the Lion to be King in a lecture, “Carl Jung and the Lion King.”
“A person who hasn’t embraced his shadow is someone who feels incapable of doing damage to someone. But when the bully comes and starts to bully this person, he can’t defend himself, because he can’t do damage. To embrace the shadow in this context would mean to stand up for yourself. Don’t let the bully walk over you and do damage to other people. Morality doesn’t come from not doing damage. It comes from the realization that you can do damage, but you choose not to.”
Bullies are cancer to all companies because the wheels of commerce turn because they are greased with trust. Organizations scale-up and become highly profitable when they become based on kindness, respect, trust, and transparency.
Companies should be safe havens, a sanctuary from the evil in society – where we can build achievements that make us proud. Business is about putting pieces in place that do not exist, so we need millennials who are unencumbered emotionally to walk down a path of individuation eagerly.
Coming into your leadership power starts with becoming bully-proof. Become the Lion you were always meant to be!