Backstabbers and Bullies

How To Cope With The Dark Side of People At Work

Adrian Furnham

Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2015, 332 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4729-1550-4

Keywords: Human Resources

Last modified: July 4, 2016, 2:26 p.m.

There are around 60-80,000 books on leadership in the English language and most are on the bright side. The idea of leadership failure and derailment has been brushed under the carpet for far too long and only now are statistics appearing on the sheer numbers who fail. Backstabbers and Bullies provides the latest psychiatric and clinical perspectives on dark side behaviour, including:

  • Recognizing and coping with over-confident, narcissistic and psychopathic leaders
  • Causes of leadership derailment and failure
  • Corrupt corporate cultures
  • The nature of corporate culture today
  • The criminal personality.

This book is fascinating reading for anyone who has worked alongside a corporate psychopath, business narcissist or histrionic show-off. It covers many practical issues to explain how to better understand, manage and prevent dark side behaviour, as well as presenting advice for reducing derailment potential for yourself, your colleagues and your organization. Most importantly, this book makes recommendations for avoiding appointing leaders who fail.

  1. The incidence and cost of management failure
    1. Introduction
    2. Business leadership
    3. Upper Echelon Theory
    4. Some evidence
    5. Definitions
    6. Causal chains
    7. Conditions that allow for the emergence of dark-side leaders
    8. The bully and the backstabber
    9. Conclusion
  2. Management derailment
    1. Introduction
    2. Three crucial indicators
    3. Five fundamental issues
    4. The avoidable behaviours
    5. Conclusion
  3. Management incompetence and derailment: Too little and too much of a good thing
    1. Introduction
    2. Incompetent vs. derailment
    3. Two perspectives on incompetence
    4. The incompetent manager and leader
    5. The psychology of managerial incompetence
    6. Derailment: Too much of a good thing
    7. Conclusion
  4. Corrupt countries and sick corporate cultures: Bad places to be
    1. Introduction
    2. Terminology and incidence
    3. Poor management
    4. Corporate cultures
    5. What is corruption?
    6. Why does corruption occur?
    7. Cheats at work
    8. Conclusion
  5. The criminal personality and criminal gangs
    1. Introduction
    2. The criminal personality
    3. Eysenck's theory of the criminal personality
    4. Criminal personality disorder
    5. White-collar crime
    6. Emerging crimes
  6. Five accounts: Explaining the cause of leadership derailment
    1. Introduction
    2. The personality disorders account
    3. Supportive evidence: The research
    4. The dark triad account
    5. The maladaptive personality account
    6. The Freudian account
    7. The strengths (overused) as weakness account
    8. Conclusion
  7. The successful psychopath at work
    1. Introduction
    2. Background
    3. Definitions
    4. Popular descriptions
    5. Measuring psychopathy
    6. Possible causes
    7. Psychopaths at work
    8. Corporate culture and psychopathy
    9. Dealing with psychopaths
    10. Conclusion
  8. Arrogance, hubris and narcissism: The overconfident leader
    1. Introduction
    2. Harmful effects of high self-esteem
    3. Narcissistic personality disorder
    4. The two sides of narcissism
    5. The narcissistic leader
    6. New ideas
    7. Hubris and nemesis in politicians
    8. Unanswered questions
    9. Conclusions
  9. The paranoid, schizotypal, histrionic and obsessive-compulsive leader
    1. Introduction
    2. Paranoid (argumentative, vigilant)
    3. Schizotypal (imaginative, idiosyncratic)
    4. Histrionic (colourful, dramatic)
    5. Obsessive-compulsive (diligent, conscientious)
    6. Conclusion
  10. The sick executive
    1. Introduction
    2. The biopsychosocial approach to health
    3. In sickness and in power
    4. Stress and illness at work
    5. Burnout
    6. Workaholism
    7. Addictions
    8. Conclusion
  11. Prevention and management of the dark side
    1. Introduction
    2. Three issues: Selection, development and transitioning
    3. Reducing derailment potential
    4. Self-help
    5. Conclusion


Backstabbers and Bullies

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

OK ***** (5 out of 10)

Last modified: July 4, 2016, 2:26 p.m.

A good HR book about different personality types in management. Very theoretical in outlook and does in no way live up to its subtitle.

It is probably standard reading in an MBA course somewhere, but it fails to keep your interest otherwise, even though it is not a bad book.

In short, if this is your area of interest, please read it, but otherwise you may skip it.


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