So, what exactly is the Dark Triad?

The Dark Triad is a construct of three personality types that are in some ways closely related, and all share “dark” traits, characterised by malevolence. They are:

  • Psychopathy — Characterised by enduring antisocial behaviour, risk-taking, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness, remorselessness, lack of empathy, lack of conscience, and by being charismatic, superficially charming, crafty, deceptive, and manipulative.
    • The scale which is largely used in the literature to measure Psychopathy is the Self-Report Psychopathy (SRP) developed by Delroy L. Paulhus, Craig S. Neumann and Robert D. Hare
  • Machiavellianism — Characterized by being critical, negative, ethically suspect, manipulative, cynical, immoral, driven by self-interest, deceitful, cunning, calculating, intelligent, and emotionally detached.
    • The scale which is most used to measure this construct is the Machiavellianism Mach-IV developed by Richard Christieand and Florence L. Geis
  • Narcissism — Characterized by being proud, egoistic, arrogant, cocky, controlling, duplicitous, hyper-sensitive to criticism, highly entitled, and by having an inflated view of themselves, and a lack of empathy. They tend to be exhibitionist, exploitative, dominant, boastful, uncompromising, and prone to exaggeration, and aggression.
    • The scale largely used to measure this trait is the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) developed by Robert N. Raskin and Calvin S. Hall

All three traits share characteristics such as a lack of empathy, interpersonal hostility, and interpersonal offensiveness.

Each trait is in itself a combination of different “facets”; Machiavellianism, for example, being made up of: Authority, Self-Sufficiency, Superiority, Exhibitionism, Exploitativeness, Vanity and Entitlement.

Interestingly, the GLOBE study (Global Leadership & Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness) carried out at the end of the nineties (and still ongoing) identified “malevolent“ as the least universally desirable of the 21 leadership scales they developed. The study also identified eight “traits” of what they called an “anti-leader”:

  • Loner
  • Irritable
  • Asocial
  • Egocentric
  • Indirect/Non-explicit
  • Ruthless
  • Non-cooperative
  • Dictatorial

At the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Ban Ki-moon, Obama and others talked of the nobleness of Mandela and the need today for other world leaders to take up the Mandela legacy; something which seems to be strongly lacking today.

When I look at current world leaders (and even some business leaders I know) many of them seem to exhibit far too many behaviours both from the Dark Triad and from the Globe “Anti-leader” list.

You can see how dark you are here:

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