People Management

Why schizoid individuals (often) get promoted

Photo by Hadi Slash from Pexels

Every human has a personality design which reunites elements from different personality “models” which are dominant to that individual. When more than four traits of such a “model” are found in one person and they emerged in early adult life, we call it a personality disorder, because it breaks the balance of the overall design. This design can change over time, either voluntarily if you work on self-development  / go to therapy or involuntarily, guided by various events in our life.

A person with schizoid personality disorder (! not schizophrenia, which is a clinical diagnosis) is described as follows:

– almost always choses solitary activities

– shows interest in few activities (or none)

– often lacks friends (except close relatives)

– emotionally cold, detached

– indifferent to critics or praise

– doesn’t crave for or enjoy being part of a group

– has little or no interest in sex

Normally, these people can be excellent surgeons, sharp shooters (snipers), paramedics, or in plain English: they best fit any job that requires emotional detachment or fast decisions with severe consequences. By now, I guess you’re wondering why we sometimes encounter such personality types as team leads, managers or executives.

Many companies are listed on the stock market. That means their end goal is to increase the value of their shares so that their investors can make a profit. That is commonly achieved in three ways: by knocking out the market with a game-changer product (best example: iPhone), by organic expansion (to new markets or through range of products) or by reducing costs. When vision and strategy are lacking, all that remains is option #3.

Cutting costs is always painful: employees see first their perks taken away, then get re-organised to remove some of the operational cost and soon overworked, to increase the return on investment (profit made per paid employee). These actions require harsh decisions (not good ones) which can’t be taken by emotional people. Even in happier settings, having a robot with a human face, ready to execute orders with complete disregard to the human side seems tempting.

This is why we often see such people promoted. There’s a good and a bad side to this. The good thing is it doesn’t last. Being a “solution” applied in companies that lack vision, assigning such leaders only gets them faster to the bottom of the pit as attrition increases (people resigning). That’s when such companies realize that people were indeed their most important asset. The bad news is that just like economic recession, it’s a cyclic phenomenon – sooner or later, every team, department or company will get such a manager (please note I didn’t write leader). You can either wait for the storm to pass, or … just go to a sunnier place (change the job)!

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