Do Execs Need Psychological Testing? – Pick Dave’s Brain

Are you a narcissist and, if so, should you be a CEO?

This week’s question comes from Jayne in Adelaide, Australia.

Q: Could you see value in companies establishing prerequisite testing of all CEO applicants for disorders such as BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) or NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder) to ensure that people in leadership positions care about those that they lead?

Click to tweet this: You won’t find leadership in an inkblot test, Dr. Freud. Skip the psychiatry. Look for chemistry. @DaveCrenshaw

Video transcript:

Are you a narcissist and, if so, should you be CEO? I’m Dave Crenshaw and it’s time to Pick Dave’s Brain.

This week’s question comes from Jayne in Adelaide, Australia. She writes:

Jayne:

Could you see value in companies establishing prerequisite testing of all CEO applicants for disorders such as BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) or NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder) to ensure that people in leadership positions care about those that they lead?

Dave:

This is a fascinating question, Jayne. Thanks for asking.

The first thing that I want to bring up is: if we are going to test CEOs for these disorders, why not test managers? Why not test customer service? They’re going to be interacting with people, right?

The reason why I bring this up is the moment you start talking about psychological testing of people in any position, you’re opening up the floodgates for every position. And I think that’s a really slippery slope that we don’t want to go down.

Now dystopian-science-fiction-nightmare-scenarios aside, let’s think about the fact that this is a psychological disorder that you’re describing that is still in a state of fluctuating debate of what it actually is. Scientists are still trying to come up with a framework of “what is a narcissist” or “what is Borderline Personality Disorder.” And I would really be afraid personally of putting my future livelihood into the hands of one clinical scientist who’s making a diagnosis based on an imperfect set of criteria.

No. Instead what I recommend that companies do is interview people based on the company values. The company values are a set of things that the company believes in and you want to have those written out. And then you can interview people based on those values. Are you a fit for this company?

You know, I would be a horrible employee at Zappos because I just don’t fit the mold. Yet, they have amazing customer service. Why? It is because they consistently hire on a set of values. And my company has a set of values such as being humble, being a go-getter. And I make sure that if we hire someone to work at Invaluable Inc., they have those values.

And in this way if someone doesn’t pass the test, that doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person or that that they should get a “Scarlet Letter” on their resume for the rest of their life. No. It just means that they weren’t a fit for that company and they may be a fit somewhere else.

Thanks for that great question, Jane.

And if you would like to pick Dave’s brain, all you need to do is to click on the link underneath this video. Or go to DaveCrenshaw.com/ask.

I look forward to hearing your fascinating questions.


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