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Toxic Leaders: how to spot and deal with them

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South Africa Inc is going through a crisis of confidence. Some of our largest companies have seen billions lost to what seems now to be bully CEOs. Toxic leaders can devastate any successful business and have ruined many careers.

As a CFO climbing the corporate ladder you will likely have to deal with toxic leaders on your way to the top.  One Australian study found that one in five CEOs are psychopaths – roughly the same as prisoners.

The study of 261 senior professionals in the United States found that 21% had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. The rate of psychopathy in the general population is about 1%.

Despite increasingly onerous accounting regulations, South Africa is wrestling with a slew of corruption scandals. In many cases, auditors and CFOs seem powerless to withstand the pressures of a bullying CEO. As Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Aggrizzi claimed, he was “groomed for corruption” by his bosses. Small “gifts” and inducements ended up getting bigger until he became a captured part of a corrupt enterprise.

It’s time we took a good hard look at the problem of the bullying CEO.