imagesThere is some research to support the proposition that personality traits that are particular to sociopaths are very similar to ones demonstrated by strong leaders. I went on the net again to find just such research to see whether politics attracts people who aren’t ethical or whether people lose their ethics by being involved in politics,

Some research out of Emory University found that the character trait of Fearless Dominance that is normally associated with sociopathy may predict presidential performance.

“Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double-edged sword,” the study’s lead author Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, a psychologist at Emory, said in a written statement. “Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis.” “Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths.”

This would explain why we end up with so many ethical scandals in politics. They’re all like that and it just takes a little time for problems to become visible.

But politicians are only one type of leader and there are all sorts of leadership situations that may not for instance require Fearless Dominance as a personality characteristic.

Back to the old issue of causality then. Do you need to be a sociopath to be a political leader or do you become a sociopath from being a politician? And furthermore, do you need to be a bit of a sociopath to be any other type of leader?