James Bond is unlikely to swap his gun for a word processor — yet if, like him, you are able to extract what you want from the environment by being ruthlessly self-serving then you should be able to blast your way past any latter-day Goldfingers to reach the top of the office pile.

According to Oxfordshire-based Oliver James, a psychologist and bestselling author, if you display the Machievellian, narcissistic and/or psychopathic character traits of an 007, then you have the essential building blocks to achieve success in the office, no matter what the personal cost.

In James's book Office Politics, these “dark triadic” tendencies are brought to life by anecdotes which complement the more sober psychological and sociological analysis that underpin James’s thesis on the often subconscious path to ultimate success in the office battlefield of competing egos and ambitions.

James, who is on the board of Oxfordshire charity Contented Dementia, adds complexity to the triadic personality by highlighting the office politics divide between West and East. For example, in the US the overtly ruthless individual may be not liked but is generally admired in the boardroom, whereas in Asia the cult of the individual needs to be suppressed within the ethos of the collective.

Perception often counts more than actual ability. So the individual with the A-grade academic record may often have to play second fiddle to the A-grade political animal and this is nowhere more apparent than in industries, particularly service-related ones, where there are no clear performance metrics.

Worryingly, one per cent (approximately 600,000) of the UK population displays psychopathic tendencies yet only 15,000 currently reside behind prison bars. So the majority are therefore existing and probably thriving at a desk close to you.

They say all the world’s a stage and this book captures the potential chasm between perception and reality in the workplace.