The Hidden Danger of Hiring the Confident Charmer

Confident. Resilient. Charming.

For many hiring managers, these words evoke an image of the perfect employee — a true “go-getter” — self-assured in a crisis, but also likable. They favor people who exhibit these qualities in interviews and are more likely to promote them.

Unfortunately, these qualities may come with a hidden price.

Confidence, resilience, and charm are also key aspects of the DSM criteria for psychopathy.

How do these seemingly positive attributes translate into a toxic personality profile?

  1. Feeling an inflated sense of confidence may arise from an inability to internalize criticism and feel shame and can lead to reckless decision-making.
  2. A lack of sensitivity to emotional stress can engender greater resilience in negative social interactions. As a result, toxic working conditions and abusive leadership favors these more resilient individuals.
  3. Charm is, first and foremost, a tool. A desire to get ahead at all costs can motivate some to try to make others feel comfortable to gain their trust — and that boosted confidence and lack of fear in social interactions can be a big asset in getting there.

The creepiest part? Hiring managers are not totally wrong-headed here. Studies have found, for example, that people with psychopathic personalities can make amazing salespeople.

Overall, however, hiring on these psychopathic qualities does not pay off in the long run. When it leaks into the C-suite, it translates into lower ROI and a toxic work environment. Conversely, CEOs that score high on “agreeableness” help businesses rake in larger returns and maintain their market edge. Similarly, studies have also found that the most productive workers are those who exhibit team-oriented, collaborative traits like conscientiousness and agreeableness.

What is the takeaway? Companies should try to reward team players over lone wolves in their organizational structure – not only is it good for morale, it’s good for the bottom line as well.

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