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The Dark Side of Business Leadership

Are you struggling with ‘leadership gremlins?’ That’s right, every leader’s got one. But according to a new publication from Ashridge business school reviewed on Consultant, knowledge about the “dark side” of leadership can be helpful toward stabilizing those gremlins.

The Jekyll and Hyde Leader

Marshaling the disciplines of psychiatry and psychotherapy, The Leadership Shadow makes the case for a leadership strategy that helps project managers (among other leaders) cope with uncertainty and instability related to their demanding roles:

…the shadow side and the bright side of a leader’s personality are intimately connected, but can drift apart upon taking up a pressurised leadership role. Leadership shadows or ‘gremlins’ have the potential to send what’s best about an executive’s leadership over to the dark side.

Eleven Gremlins

The best place to start with leaders is with their individual brand of personality (there are eleven) and the way individual gremlins manifest in instances of crisis or extreme pressure. The next step is for leaders to reflect on those behaviors in a constructive way. The intent of this ‘leadership therapy’ is to prevent a behavior known in the profession as overdrive – when positive leadership traits are bent toward negative aims.  

4 Overdrive Dilemmas

Four of the eleven leadership gremlins are reviewed in the publication along with a quick list of recommendations for avoiding the dark side of overdrive in each instance:

  • Charming Manipulators
  • Playful Encouragers
  • Glowing ‘Gatsbies’
  • Detached Diplomats 

Do you find yourself breaking rules more than you adhere to them? In this case you might be a Charming Manipulator. Likewise, the Playful Encourager may say one thing and do another. This gremlin has problems taking responsibility for views and actions. By contrast, a Glowing Gatsby takes all the credit and none of the criticism, relegating their humility to the shadows. Another type is the Detached Diplomat, who tends to separate his or her actions from the organization in which they operate.

Read the full article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master’s degree in communications at Penn State University.

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