A leadership book like no other I have read, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures (1997) by Gary L. McIntosh & Samuel D. Rima is a great exploration of the dysfunctions of leadership.  It will challenge you to re-examine your own leadership tendencies and remind you of many damaging leadership tendencies.

I found myself reflecting on past mistakes and failures as well as dysfunctional environments while reading this book.  By exploring the common mistakes of leadership, the authors present a master class in what not to do.  These common tendencies include:

  • The Compulsive Leader
  • The Narcissistic Leader
  • The Paranoid Leader
  • The Codependent Leader
  • The Passive-Aggressive Leader

There is value in examining these leadership styles.  It seems like leadership books are commonly focused on what to do to improve your strengths.  The authors take you on a journey to the dark side, exploring how leaders can fall into destructive patterns and exhibit these negative styles.  They make a link between the reasons some people become leaders often lead to their downfalls.  “The personal insecurities, feelings of inferiority, and need for parental approval (among other dysfunctions) that compelled these people to become successful leaders were very often the same issues that precipitated their failure” (13).  It’s a book that begs for self-reflection.  Each chapter ends with questions for self-reflection which would lend itself to a PLC.

The authors argue that healthy components of leaders (competitive urges, perfectionism, need for success/approval) can weaken their effectiveness if it’s not balanced by self-reflection.  I found myself challenging my own motivations and wondering why I had been successful and unsuccessful in various points in my life.  It also make me examine why certain environments were successful and some were not.

I recommend the book for all leaders interested in self-reflection and improving their professional practice.  I would pair the book with Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.

More info on the book here.