The Dark Side..

The Dark Side

Understanding the Dark Side of leadership could be of tremendous help & assistance to all team leaders and/or team members involved.

The dark side of any person, when She or He is allowed to go uncontested, could create a rigid and dysfunctional personality which not only smothers creativity, but also blemishes or ruins relationships. When such characteristics find home in any leader, a prepotent and ballistic person shall undoubtedly be the result, who always shall tend to alienate all people She or He were meant to inspire.

Some of the most common expressions of (erratic) leadership are reflected on the following kinds of characters: [1]

Compulsive leaders

Compulsive leaders, who feel like they have to do everything by themselves. They try to manage every aspect of the business, also called micro management, often refusing to delegate, and cannot resist having their say over every single thing. As they generally lack trust on others, they cannot let anyone else take responsibility. Therefore, they normally restrict personal growth amongst the members of the team.

Compulsive leaders have many other features i.e.: They are perfectionists entities who ought to follow rigid and meticulous daily routines, also are ever concerned with status. Therefore, they endevour to impress superiors with their earnestness and efficiency as well as continually be looking for reassurance and approval. The latter could lead to them becoming workaholics, and the team members view as failing inadequate if they are not able to keep the set pace. Spontaneity is rarely encouraged, by these leaders as they consider it to buck routine up.

Despite this total control appearance, compulsive kind of leaders could be fit to be implosive, and this can be the resultant of some sort of childish pattern of behaviour since they do promote unrealistic expectations to be placed up on them. Their bids for keeping control are generally linked to their attempts to suppress anger and resentment, which makes them susceptible to temper outbursts especially when perceiving loss of grip.

Narcissist Narcissist leaders, love to focus on themselves. Life and the world has got to revolve around them, they feel the undeniable need to be at the center of it all. Whilst they indulge on exaggerating their merits, they shall always try to ignore the merits of others, or seek to devalue them, mainly because the accomplishments of other people could be seen as a threat to their own merit. The worst type of narcissistic leaders cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and/or disagreement. Normally avoid self delusions or their fantasies being undermined therefore you often find them surrounded by serviles.

Whenever possible, they shall attempt to claim the merits of others as their own, and seek nothing but stepping on people to move higher up the ladder. A strong self importance sentiment makes them unable to empathize with those in their team, because they develop incapable of sensing any connection whatsoever. Their only focus is based on receiving whatever further piers their sense of greatness. Such an attitude is often the result of a deep seated inferiority complex, and hence no matters how much they could be achieving, or earning, they shall never feel is ever enough.

Some narcissistic leaders take on a confidant, but this person is expected to toe the line at all times, and serves only to purposely reflect glory onto them and loudly approve of all what they do. Clever sidekicks can subtlety manipulate the leader into focusing on the operational outcome of their plans, rather than just their self indulgence. Ultimately, this type of leader can be very successful if their vision is strong and they get the organization to click with them and also think like they do so. Such productive narcissists have more perspective, and could seldom step back and even have a laugh at their own irrationality.

Paranoid leadersParanoid leaders, are exactly as it sounds i.e.: paranoid about other people being better than they could be, and hence they understand even the mildest criticism as devastating. They are likely to overreact when sensing they are challenged, especially in front of others.The latter could manifest itself by open hostility. Their attitude could as well be the result of an inferiority complex and makes them perceive even the most constructive criticism in a wrong way. A paranoid leader will be safe guarded, in their dealings, by other people because they never reveal too much of themselves preventing the display of their weaknesses or even the chance of finding themselves attacked or undermined. They are constantly scared, of the true fact, their position is undeserved, therefore fall deeply suspicious of colleagues who may steal their limelight or perhaps challenge them for their position.

A healthy dose of paranoia however, could be a key to success in business, since it does contribute to keeping leaders on their toes, and fully aware of never to be missed opportunities. Paranoia seats at the opposite end to being complacent and could marinate the conjure for a most successful venture.

Codependent leadersCodependent leaders, do not enjoy taking the lead, instead prefer to copycat what others are doing or have done. They avoid confrontation and would rather cover problems up rather than facing them up. Planning nor strategizing are not their forte. They rather tend to react to whatever comes their way, in place of acting to achieve goals or prevent wrong outcomes.  

Codependent leaders, consequently, are not at all leaders. They are just reactionary and have the bad habit of keeping important information to themselves only because they are not prepared to act upon it. This obviously leads to poor performance because all the pertinent facts are not known to those below who may choose to challenge her or him with decision taking.

This kind of leader generally avoids confrontation and is therefore liable to accept a greater workloads, than normal, instead of trying to disuade to any such request. They are also prone to accepting the blame for situations they are not even nor remotely responsible for.

Passive aggressive leaders Passive aggressive leaders, feel urgency to control everything, and when it is not possible, they tend to cause problems for those who are in control. Nonetheless, they are hypocritical over their maneuvers. They are difficult to single out. Their main characteristics are: being stubborn, purposely forgetful, intentionally inefficient, good complainers (behind backs), and they bypass responsibilities trusted to them via procrastination. 

Often, when they are not firmly in the driving seat, they shall jump out and accident progress, especially when no one is looking, then fake horror and pretend to search around for any guilty party.

This type of leader moves only in two speeds i.e.: full ahead or none at all. When situations are not going their way, they would offer their full support to whatever may have been decided, just to then gossip and back stab, deliberately cause delays, and generally generate distress. When confronted upon, they shall always claim having been misinterpreted. Passive aggressive leaders are often chronically late for appointments, using any excuse to diffuse the responsibility and regain some control over the situation.

Dealing with passive aggressive leaders is thus an energy consuming and frustrating affair. They are not prone to outbursts of sadness nor anger, but ultimately are fearful of success since it exposes them to higher expectations.

Well my dear friends, I do hope having been able to contribute to clarifying any doubts, you may have had, when trying to understand the behavioural pattern of some leaders or even your own.

“The main role of a modern leader is to inspire people to dig in and find their hidden talents thus sustainable growth could be achieved..”


Leadership on Becoming a Better Leader; White Dove Books ~ 2009/12.


About the author:

Aly B. Moreno PhD, MPhil  BsC, Textile Technologist, Colour Chemist, Chemical Eng; University Lecturer, CText. ATI, CCol. ASDC, Corporate SDC. Lean business strategist with a proven record enhancing corporations and family owned businesses thus generating profit growth leverage.