Halloween Special: 4 Points Your Boss Has In Common With A Serial Killer

Halloween Special: Parallels Between Your Boss And A Serial Killer

It is Halloween and time for a special edition!

Did you already notice that your boss is a little weird sometimes and often shows strange behavior which you do not understand? A possible explanation is that he is a serial killer (though there may be other reasons).

Let’s have a closer look at 4 points a serial killer and your boss have in common:


  • A serial killer: The vast majority of serial killers are “white males with middle-class background, possessing IQs in the bright normal range” (Scott, Shirley Lynn, What Makes Serial Killers Tick?). The FBI states, “serial murderers often seem normal; have families and a steady job.” (Morton, Robert J., Serial Murder, Federal Bureau of Investigation)
  • Your boss: Look around in your office. Are most of your bosses white men and seem to be normal? I know this is frightening but does not yet mean that the entire executive team of your company is composed of serial killers. Read on to gain better understanding of what is going on in your firm…


  • A serial killer: often “lacks empathy, is egocentric and impulsive and often follows a distinct set of rules which he has created for himself”. He may appear to be “normal and often quite charming”, a state of adaptation that psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley called “the mask of sanity” (Morse, Stephen J., “Psychopathy – What Is Psychopathy?”)
  • Your boss: Your boss could show more empathy and control his feelings better when things do not go the way he wants, right? And rules are made for everyone after all, not only for the staff. “Leading by example” is the key word. And did you already think that your boss wears the “mask of sanity”? No? Then you will as of now!

Operating model:

  • A serial killer: Serial murderers have established certain rituals and perfect them over time. The FBI places them into three different categories: “organized, disorganized, and mixed” (Crime Classification Manual, Vronsky 2004, p. 99-100)
  • Your boss: Does your boss sometimes show organized behavior but is disorganized on other days? Does he have strange habits which he repeats over and over again like for instance interrupting his peers or leaving paper cups in the kitchen sink? If he has one of these or any other habits, this could be an indicator that he is a serial killer


  • A serial killer: The motives of serial killers are “generally placed into four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic and power or control. However, the motives of any given killer may display considerable overlap among these categories” (Holmes, Ronald M., Serial Murder)
  • Your boss: Does one of these four categories apply to your boss? Can he be visionary when he talks about where the company will stand in 2020, mission-oriented during negotiations with major accounts but power-driven in other situations? Now you have a likely explanation for this strange behavior. And the more I am writing, the more destabilized I get myself…


If your boss is a middle-aged white man with an average IQ who is seemingly normal but should show more concern for his followers, if he has established a set of certain rules and behavior which only he understands and if his motives change from visionary to hedonistic and back, then he could be a serial killer. There is no guarantee. But there is still this unsettling doubt, right…?

Jorg Stegemann
Jorg Stegemann - Headhunter, Certified Coach and Business Writer - is the CEO of Kennedy Executive Search. Apart from running our company blog, he writes for Forbes, BBC and other media.
  1. Martin Reply

    Hi Jorg. Good article. My wife (who has a psychology degree) considers that any senior manager is likely to be narcissistic. Prompted by your article I just took the test and scored 29 out of 40. The average score is 14. Take the test at http://www.0eb.com/narc.php

    Sadly, I think there is something in what you write and I may just blog on it when I’ve had a little thinking time…..

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Martin –

      Thanks. Do not spoil the surprise for the other readers: taken the 4 points I picked, we all score high. I am disappointed you only score 29 out of 40 which sounds below average to me. Are you sure that YOU are normal???


      • Martin
        Martin Reply

        Apparently, the top score is 34 out of 40, so if the average is 14, then I guess 29 is high. Am I trying to defend myself as narcissistic?!?!?!

        Depending on your definition of normal, I think I would prefer to avoid it.

  2. Pingback: Halloween Special – Are leaders often narcissists? | My Headhunting Blog

  3. Philip Reply

    @Jorg. A previous boss a few years ago was extraordinary. In the next job interview I got the job and my referees were followed up. Some weeks later, now in the new job, my then new boss said to me, “Philip. Who was your last boss?” I told him and asked why. “Its just that your referee described him as ‘the closest thing this industry has to the Russian mafia. Philip handled him brilliantly. Employ him’.” And of course he did.

  4. Charlotte Reply

    I know this was all a little tongue in cheek but sometime I want to write an article in defense of management! It’s all too easy to label a boss as narcissistic or psychopathic when the issue actually belongs with the labeller!

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Nobody is perfect…

  5. Carlos Reply

    It’s funny and has a certain amount of truth

  6. Sharon Reply

    Jorg, your article is very funny indeed – laced with liberal doses of pathos – what a great sense of humor! I also enjoyed the comments that followed from others – cheered me up no end!

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, Sharon!

  7. Jimmy Reply

    Great post, made the entire office laugh!

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Jimmy, Thanks! Hope you are not the boss of that office…

  8. Alan Reply

    I am a boss, but I have a bigger Boss and he has a BIG BIG Boss (who also has a “biggestest” Boss of them all Boss), so where does this leave me (comparatively speaking)?
    And when it comes to serial killing, are we thinking of finite or infinite series? Or one of the many other series including those hiding in Banach spaces.

    Do you remember the cartoon that represented hierarchy and went around some years ago? It showed about a dozen crows on a pyramidal perch. The one on top (the Big Boss) was black (aha!), the ones further down were whiter and whiter. I’m sure I could dig it out of the bottom drawer of the fridge. But how can I attach it to this?

    Strange, but it feels like Friday today.

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply


  9. Corinne Reply

    Very good title, I felt I could not avoid reading it and was not disappointed!

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