First lesson in how to be successful? Resist the urge to be agreeable…

Here’s Chris Dillow’s thumbnail guide to being successful.

1. Don’t be nice.

2. Be irrationally overconfident.

3. Be a narcissist. (“despite the fact that narcissistic bosses do no better a job on average than others – and might even be positively dangerous“)

4. Be a psychopath. (“charm, fearlessness and a lack of empathy or moral code are useful for career success”)

Now, to be clear, Chris is not talking about politics here. He’s talking about leadership in commerce. In particular those big institutions which dominate the commercial life of nations just now. Of which he notes:

I say all this as a counterweight to Deirdre McCloskey’s claim that a market economy fosters virtues such as trustworthiness and sympathy. Maybe so. But we don’t live a purely market world. Instead, we have large islands of Stalinism within a market sea. And the characteristics required to prosper within Stalinism are, well, Stalin’s ones.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • I am all of those things.
    But I am not in any way successful.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Forgive me for not thinking that every nasty, overconfident, psychopathic, narcissist has the upper-hand in business, but if I have to not be agreeable then it’s easy not to agree with this.

  • Greenflag

    They’re both right in part . McCloskey is correct in that a market economy from the perspective of encouraging people to start their own businesses etc does foster the traits she refers to . In fact no small business person or entrepreneur could survive the initial phases of business growth if he or she took Dillow’s advice .

    It’s in large business and political institutions and organisation with thousands of employees where the psychopaths/sociopaths /unempathethics come into their own . But first they have to rise to a few rungs above the bottom of the power hierarchy . Most of the time this group will be very high level employees -CEO’s CFO’s etc . They will usually be able to funnel extra bonuses salaries -options their way with the shareholder’s willing to foot the bill in return for short term dividend increases and share price upvaluation .

    As we have seen in ROI even so called charitable institutions are not safe from the ‘predatorial minority’.

    And the answer ? Hanging perhaps ? Unfortunately it’s a natural phenomenon that comes along with different gender sexualities with the fact of being human . In ancient times these type of people became kings or tribal leaders and it usually the top ‘killer ‘ – most ruthless -etc who became king or queen and helped perpetuate the trait unto succeeding generations .

    The only answer /deterrent is effective regulation of large scale business corporations , financial institutions and political organisations and an ethical independent judiciary . And even with all that society will never be 100% protected from the ‘predatory’ class .