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Monday, August 07, 2006

Dark Side Leadership

I was doing some recent reflection and review on leadership in my life over the last 7 years. This reflection took me on a number of tangents which led me to a book titled Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Not wanting to read a whole book and realizing it won't be made into a movie any time soon, I found the Cliff's Notes version here.

Written from a biblical standpoint, it relates more to Bible characters and their leadership. It's premise is that:

  • Every leader suffers from some degree of personal dysfunction.
  • Personal dysfunction can be the motivating force to achieve success as a leader.
  • Many leaders are not aware of the dysfunctions that drive them.
  • Characteristics that drive people to lead and succeed often have a dark side capable of crippling them.
  • Learning about the dark side can enable leaders to address and prevent, or at least mitigate the potential negative effects.

Compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, co-dependent, and passive aggressive are the five tendencies toward the dark side of leadership that are discussed. Think of a leader you don't like, or have had disagreements with and read the article and see if you can identify where they fit in.

I believe at the root of all people is some amount of good. Some people's good is perhaps more refined than others, but it is still there. Therefore, people who do something that offends me either do it unknowingly, or do it because their perception on reality has been altered. (i.e. they are a paranoid leader and therefore deeply insecure and view me as a threat to their leadership, which causes them to do something that offends me to keep me safely away from them) With either reason, if I am able to identify what has motivated them to offend me, I can more easily move past the offense.

This article spells out what some of those reality altering reasons might be, and it has helped me gain a better understanding of why people are motivated to hurt others, especially for people in a leadership role.

Whether you have already or perhaps are in the middle of dealing with a leader turned to the dark side, I hope this helps you move on.