The Dark Side of Leadership

By living with a facade that is difficult to maintain and is stressful to make decisions from daily... we set ourselves up for ultimate failure. A fulfilling, happy, passionate life NOT lived.
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Photo by Al Fed




People Pleasing...




Driven to Prove...


Lack of Trust...


The list of words above could be a book in and of itself.

The words most leaders don't dare to share with others. It's not good for their carefully constructed image as the leader.

Unfortunately, by living with a facade that is difficult to maintain and is stressful to make decisions from daily...we set ourselves up for ultimate failure. A fulfilling, happy, passionate life NOT lived.

Deep honesty is required to read this list, because anything less will result in no change.

In leadership, all of these words relate to one another and actually help to feed the ongoing existence of this list; let's go through them now:

1. Insecurities: As a leader we may be loathe to share any chink in the armor. We don't want someone using it against us, so we gloss over our flaws, our lesser skills, our fear and pretend it doesn't exist. This leads to stress, depression, anxiety, and can interrupt all parts of our lives. All human beings have insecurities, the key is to own them, not hide them, because they are part of what forms true confidence.

2. Perfectionism: Most don't want to admit that their biggest fear is criticism of a job failed in some capacity. Many leaders go to great lengths to ensure mistakes don't happen, even to the point of micro-managing. When leaders don't trust their people, it's not about the people, it's about the leader and their inner critic who judges 'everything' and accepts nothing less than perfect. The key here is to understand 'why' the belief within says we're not good enough (our unworthiness will be found out by others), and then become emotionally resilient to disappointment and allow help in moving toward empowerment.

3. Loneliness: Isolation, not feeling we can share any of our troubles, hours spent in mind-numbing contemplation, and activities built to relieve stress, but keep our walls intact. This self-imposed way of leading and managing our emotions doesn't serve us mentally or physically and it doesn't make us authentic in how we deal with others. When we're being starved, holding in feelings--compartmentalizing, spending countless hours working, striving, strategizing and still not pleased with our outcome--it makes for a pretty angry individual. As difficult as it may be, the key is to not only allow others into our world, but to engage in their world. Becoming emotionally present all of the time will lead us out of the darkness.

4. People Pleasing: How often do we give to get? Nothing authentic there. The desire for approval, validation or to manipulate others to live up to our expectations causes us to offer reward and/or perfection for the audience. If we give to get, we feel owed. It's not altruistic nor is it genuine. There is expectation. Start seeking validation from within for just breathing, not for the accomplishments. Let others live to appropriate goals, not ones which feed an ego.

5. Victimization: Unfortunately, our society is built on the drama triangle. Persecutor, rescuer and victim. We switch roles depending on the situation and what we're trying to manipulate from another. It's disempowering, inauthentic and without awareness, we never get off. We accuse or hold the victim accountable as persecutor, then we may rescue them from being a victim and they may turnaround to become persecutor, as we slide into the victim role of perceived helplessness or pity. Everyone feels bad on this triangle, it's unfulfilling, resentment building and keeps us identifying with external circumstances we never really resolve.

6. Disempowerment: Dictatorship, unabridged criticism, taking others' personal power away or anything, which leads to ill will, resentment, disenfranchisement and a huge lack of creativity is not good for business. The environment of disempowerment internally and externally is dismal. Loyalty is hard won and back-stabbing rules. There is competition, comparison, and contradiction as the guidelines for employees and it starts from within the emotional state of the leader. The first step is for the leader to look at how disempowered he or she feels daily and the 'why' behind it. It starts at the top and then moves to the rest of the company.

7. Manipulation: Innocent or guilty, some of us think we're not purposely manipulating others, but at the base of most strategies is a way to get others to do our bidding. Period. Instead, of a more collaborative or organic approach, we think we're smarter than the rest. Having compliance is quite different than teamwork. There's no originality in manipulation and this again comes from 'not good enough' or some other false core belief within a leader. We have to believe in our vision, and creating, building and allowing it to expand. Manipulation contracts and constricts, there's no originality, expression or sustained growth, which comes from this inauthentic control.

8. Driven to prove: This is not passion, creativity or anything, which feels good. This comes from a state of lack. If we want to prove something to anyone (even if its an ideal), we're looking for validation and approval from another source. When we achieve things in this state we're never fulfilled, satisfied or happy (for more than a minute or two) and are constantly looking for the next thing, hoping it'll fill us up this time. It's a vicious cycle, whose roots are deeply embedded in our formative years. We can't handle disapproval. It's a disconnect from who we are, because we aren't thriving and may be doing something strictly for the validation of it, rather than the true desire to live on our terms--doing what we really want at anytime.

9. Lack of Trust: It starts with us, we don't trust ourselves. We second-guess our decisions or we over-think every possible outcome, we don't trust life or others to cooperate. Again, we don't actually believe deep down inside that we're capable and we will be found out. We may set others up to take the fall, and never really gain belief that we can handle our involvement in disappointment. Trust is not about others, when we trust ourselves, we make good decisions, including people we choose to surround ourselves with in any circumstance.

10. Arrogance: This is truly boring, because confident people do not need validation from others. Arrogance needs to be fed, told it's okay, let's everyone know what it does to deserve accolades and quickly tells others what they need to do to arrive on the doorstep of success. Arrogance breeds contempt. True confidence comes from self-awareness, understanding and managing our emotional state, managing others' emotional state positively and really owning our insecurities. It's to be completely present as often as possible and allow others a voice. When we're comfortable in our own skin, we're a magnet for success.

11. Inauthenticity: See numbers 1-10

This is just the surface as to what makes for leadership that is short-sighted, stressful and full of bloat rather than value. It starts within each of us, the dark side of leadership is not an external issue.

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