Sunday, May 01, 2011

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures, by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima

What can we learn from the failure of other leaders? This is an interesting question, and at times the authors do a good job of discussing it. The dark side refers to motivations and dysfunctions that cause us to succeed or fail. Many motivations can be positive, but then turn negative when taken to extremes. For instance, a tendency to perfectionism can be a great driver for success, but if allowed to dominate it can lead towards needing absolute control of everything and everyone. Leadership requires passion (“If you did the job to just get by, you would eventually pay for it.”), but an excess of passion leads to zealotry which dramatically reduces your scope of influence. Learning to recognize and harness these potentially harmful traits is a good exercise in self-reflection and humility.

Unfortunately (for me, anyway), the context of the discussion is almost entirely religious, and leads to untenable conclusions for my worldview such as, “It is through this process of learning about ourselves and progressively dealing with our dark side that we avoid its destructive paradox and allow God to exercise more control over our leadership.” Becoming an effective leader is my goal, not becoming a pious one. The entire book isn’t a loss, though; while overly preachy, using scriptural references as examples is often fairly effective in several places: Moses is described as a compulsive leader and shown to be status conscious and judgmental; Solomon is a narcissistic leader who overestimates his own achievements while minimizing others.

Overall there are some useful lessons here, but I found myself rolling my eyes entirely too often to actually recommend this. “We gave found an annual performance review to be not only challenging but also extremely encouraging and humbling as we see the ways God is effectively using us.” A similar take on this subject which I will recommend, especially when it comes to identifying types of leaders, is John Hoover’s How To Work For An Idiot.

First Sentence:
Like water exploding from behind a broken dam the words gushed out, laced with a frightening combination of anger and bitterness, “I quit!”

No comments:

Search This Blog